What leaves can cure infections?

Before the evolution of modern-day medicine, leaves, and herbs were used to promote and preserve health. In traditional medicine, such leaves and herbs were used to treat and cure various kinds of diseases and infections.

A image of leaves and herbs used for preparing traditional medicine and drinks

Key takeaways

  • Medicinal leaves and herbs played a significant role in the treatment of various infections and were used by various natives all over the world.
  • Leaves that can cure infections, as used in traditional medicine, include rosemary, clove basil, and aloe vera. These leaves were used to fight infections and contained various compounds and phytochemicals that helped them eliminate or inhibit the growth of certain mild infections. 
  • These medicinal leaves and herbs also have various antimicrobial, antioxidative, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Before the phenomenal advancements we see today in modern medicine, various plants, leaves, and herbs were once the go-to medications used to treat various infections and other disease conditions. Infections occur when viruses, bacteria, or other harmful microbes enter into or attach themselves to your body and begin to multiply.

In this article, we'll take a look at certain leaves that were and can be used to treat certain infections, including scientific evidence that suggests their effectiveness.

Leaves or herbs that can cure infections include:

1. Mitracarpus scaber

Mitracarpus scaber is a common plant seen in most forest or mangrove areas in West Africa. The plant is used as a home remedy to treat certain types of mild skin infections.

Research conducted on the plant's extract shows that it has antimicrobial activity against certain parasites like Staphylococcus aureus, responsible for most skin infections, and Candida albicans, which cause vaginal yeast infections.

2. Rosemary

Rosemary, scientifically known as Rosmarinus officinalis, is a perennial plant found mostly in Europe and certain Mediterranean countries. Rosemary has been one of the plants used as a home remedy to treat certain sexually transmitted infections.

Certain lab findings have suggested that rosemary has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects on the primary stages of Herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2). But it is worth noting that this research was conducted in a scientific lab with various top-tier equipment without any animal or human test subjects.

3. Clove basil

Clove basil, also called scent leaf and scientifically known as Ocimum gratissimum, is a common household plant found in Africa, Southern Asia, and certain parts of South and North America. Clove basil has been used in traditional medicine to treat various diseases like diarrhea, cough, fever, and pneumonia, all of which have been supported by modern-day research.

4. Pawpaw

Pawpaw, scientifically known as Carica papaya is one of the leaves people use to treat infections and other ailments. Found in parts of Africa, Asia, and North America, the plant's leaves are important in traditional medicine due to their antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects.

Research indicates that pawpaw leaves can be used to treat certain infections, like dengue fever and beriberi.

5. Aloe vera

Aloe vera is a common plant people use to treat different infections and health conditions. It is an evergreen perennial plant grown in various tropical and semitropical parts of the world. Aloe vera leaves are said to contain acemannan, a polysaccharide gel known to have medicinal benefits.

Studies have suggested that aloe vera is quite effective against certain types of skin infections and leg ulcers. As such, it may be used as a common household remedy for mild skin infections, burns, and abrasions.

6. Echinacea purpurea

Echinacea, also known as the purple coneflower, is a plant found in most parts of North America and Europe. The plant is a popular home remedy used by locals and natives to treat certain types of wounds and infections.

Research shows that the leaf extract of Echinacea is effective in treating the influenza virus, herpes simplex virus, mild acute respiratory infections like the common cold, and other rhinoviruses.

7. Bitter leaf

Bitter leaf, scientifically known as Vernonia amygdalina is a perennial plant mostly found in parts of Africa and Asia. Bitter leaf is considered a household remedy for some diseases and infections.

Research shows that bitter leaf is effective in treating various microbial infections like amoebic dysentery and diarrhea. An animal study also showed it was effective in eradicating plasmodium (the causative agent for malaria) in mice.

8. Astragalus membranaceus

Astragalus membranaceus, also known as the Mongolian milkvetch, is a green plant found in most parts of Asia. The plant is a famous one used in certain Asian countries like China to fight cold-related infections.

Recent studies have shown that Astragalus membranaceus is effective against a notable acute respiratory infection, the influenza virus.

9. Elder

The Elder plant, also called black elder and scientifically known as Sambucus nigra is a plant found in most parts of Europe. The plant has been used to treat various cold-related infections in traditional medicine. 

Research shows that the plant is effective in treating mild respiratory infections like the common cold and flu, as well as mild coughs and nasal congestion.

10. Candle bush

Candle bush, also called ringworm bush and scientifically known as Senna alata, is a plant found in parts of Africa, Asia, North Australia, and parts of North America. The plant is used as a home remedy to treat a wide range of skin infections and diseases like scabies, shingles, urticaria, itching, pityriasis versicolor, and ringworm. 

Research shows that its extract shows strong inhibitory effects on parasites like Staphylococcus aureus, responsible for causing skin infections and boils, as well as E. coli, which causes stomach ulcers. 

Are herbs always effective for curing infections?

Scientific evidence shows that some herbs may be effective in curing infections. However, they may not work for everyone.

Before the advancements that we have today in modern medicine, traditional medicine, which involved the use of various medicinal leaves, herbs, and roots, were used to fight bacteria and treat diseases.

Some of these plants possess various phytochemicals that help inhibit or eliminate certain parasites that cause infections. Other plants simply possess a nutritional value that helps boost the host's immunity to help it fight off the invading parasite.

But one challenge with the use of herbs to treat infections and other medical conditions is that most herbs have not been properly studied and clinically tested to determine things like the right dosage, the age group they are best suited for, and toxicity levels. 

Safety tips for using herbs to treat infections

If you are considering using a herbal remedy for your infection, here are some precautions to take and things to keep in mind:

Don't self diagnose

You shouldn’t self-diagnose yourself when you're down with an ailment. Always be sure to visit your doctor and get a proper examination of your health status. 

Avoid self-medication

Avoid using herbal remedies or taking any other drugs on your own without consulting a certified health professional. It's important to know that certain herbal mixtures may act differently on various individuals. So, be sure to get medications prescribed by your doctor after you've been diagnosed and use those drugs appropriately. 

Consult your doctor

Always seek your doctor's advice if you intend to take herbal medicine. Your doctor would be in the best position to tell you what herbal medicines you should take and the right amount to take. This is because certain herbal drugs can interfere with the actions of orthodox medications.

Round up

Herbal plants have proven to be effective in helping treat a wide range of infections. Various studies are being conducted to find out what leaves can cure certain infections. Finding out more about these plants would help improve our knowledge about how they act against certain parasites as well as their effects on the human body.


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  2. Bisignano, G. et al. (2000).  Antimicrobial activity of Mitracarpus scaber Extract and Isolated Constituents.
  3. Wafa A. AL-Megrin et al. (2020). Potential Antiviral Agents of Rosmarinus officinalis Extract Against Herpes viruses 1 and 2 
  4. Ositadinma Chinyere Ugbogu et al.(2021). A Review on The Traditional Uses, Phytochemistry, and Pharmacological Activities of Clove basil (Ocimum gratissimum L.)
  5. Surya P. Singh et al. (2020). Therapeutic Application of Carica papaya Leaf Extract in the Management of Human Diseases
  6. Asima Banu et al. (2012). Efficacy of Fresh Aloe vera gel Against Multi-drug Resistant Bacteria in Infected Leg Ulcers
  7. James B. Hudson (2012). Applications of the Phytomedicine Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) in Infectious Diseases. 
  8. Ehimwenma Sheena Omoregie et al. (2016). Antiplasmodial, Antioxidant and Immunomodulatory Activities of Ethanol Extract of Vernonia amygdalina del. Leaf in Swiss mice. 
  9. Ebenezer O. Farombi et al. (2011). Antioxidative and Chemopreventive Properties of Vernonia amygdalina and Garcinia biflavonoid
  10. Yuxi Liang et al. (2019). Astragalus Membranaceus Treatment Protects Raw264.7 Cells from Influenza Virus by Regulating G1 Phase and the TLR3-Mediated Signalling Pathway. 
  11. Mohaddese Mahboubi (2021). Sambucus nigra (black elder) as Alternative Treatment for Cold and Flu. 
  12. Oluwole Solomon Oladeji et al.(2020). Ethnobotanical Description and Biological Activities of Senna alata. 
  13. Rajesh Kumar Ganjhu et al. (2015). Herbal Plants and Plant Preparations as Remedial Approach for Viral Diseases.