Maryland Herbal History

Maryland has a long history as one of the first established states in the country. During that time, we’ve gotten to know many of the plants that are native to the area and brought in more.

Contemporary medicine can work wonders, but our ancestors didn’t have the synthetics that we do today. They used what we call alternative medicine: plant-based healing.

While many people left the traditions of this natural treatment method behind, it’s still popular around the world. In Maryland, using herbal remedies is such a widely accepted practice that there are colleges and hospitals devoted to its use.

What herbs and flowers are part of Maryland’s history, and which are integral to the state today? We’ll cover them all right here for you.

1. Maryland’s Native Plants

Maryland has hundreds of plants that are native to the area and even more invasive species.

Some of these are herbs that are common ingredients in medicines for ailments like colds, insomnia, and aches and pains.

Popular Medicinal Herbs From Maryland

You’ve likely heard of a few of these essential herb remedies that have been adopted for use globally.

Skunk Cabbage

Skunk cabbage, a northeast perennial, is used to treat infections like ringworm and worms. It’s also beneficial for people dealing with cancer treatment, digestive issues, or excessive bleeding.

This herb is also kept on hand in hospitals to give to patients who’ve been bitten by venomous snakes.

Golden Ragwort

Another native perennial to the area is golden ragwort. This herb has flowering parts that are extracted to make medicines used to reduce pain during childbirth and treat diabetes.

Don’t confuse golden ragwort with its sister herb, tansy. The latter herb is dangerous if you aren’t trained in using it correctly. However, ragwort of any kind is poisonous if you take too much.

Maryland’s climate makes it ideal for perennial herbs. The more research we have, the more we learn how to use these plants to our advantage.

2. Traditional Herbs Our Ancestors Used

We often imagine humans of thousands of years ago as backward and incapable of forward-thinking. But, as great discoveries like the Egyptian pyramids and Roman colosseum show, this is far from the truth.

We also see the intelligence our ancestors were capable of in the way they used their environment to succeed. They learned what plants were beneficial and which were poisonous, and they used them for their purpose.

Plants like these native to Maryland were also part of ancient history.


One of the oldest herbs on record, valerian has its “roots” back in early Greece and Rome. The plant treats migraines, stomach cramps, depression, insomnia, and many more ailments.

Valerian is a well-known herbal remedy for sleep disorders, and it has a calming effect that soothes stress and anxiety. Side effects include headaches, dizziness, and mental fogginess.

Sticky Cattail

Cattails are found in low-lying waters of ponds and lakes in the northeast. Native Americans living in Maryland centuries ago used these herbs for multiple maladies.

The sticky bit at the base of the leaves is a starch that causes minor numbness and cleaned wounds, making it a good antiseptic. Eating cattails could reduce abdominal pain and coughing.

History is Full of Examples

From penicillin to hemlock, history’s stories tell us what to do and what not to do for our ailments. If there’s a physiological problem, there’s an herb that can help.

3. Teaching Today’s Residents About Holistic Medicine

Today’s society relies heavily on manufactured medications to fix our health issues. But we’ve seen consistently that herbs can help, too.

Maryland takes this knowledge and passes it down to the next generations through schools like the Maryland University of Integrative Health.

The programs in the college take a holistic approach to health and wellness. The aim is to combine traditional remedies with current medicine.

This integrative philosophy is seen in other aspects of the state’s leadership, like its stance on cannabis.

Although the state’s legislation still keeps recreational cannabis prohibited, it acknowledges its benefits. Medical marijuana is legal if you have certain conditions and go through the process to get an MMJ card.

Cannabis has been around longer than any civilization. Researchers pinpoint the plant’s evolution to 28 million years ago. It only became illegal a few decades ago, and the world wants to be able to access the herb’s benefits legally again.

Current legislation is in progress to make this happen for residents of Maryland.


In Western civilization, herbal medicine is often ignored in favor of prescriptions. But the rest of the world and thousands of years of historical documentation prove that it works.

Maryland is home to many of these native herbs, and the practice of using them is still taught to thousands of people every day.


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