Anesthetics Derived from Plants

Anesthetics derived from plants is nothing new. Plants have been used for anesthetic purposes for centuries. It wasn’t until the early nineteen-hundreds when chemistry began to take a new direction that humankind started developing synthetic versions of plant extracts. Up until this point medicine globally was plant medicine. In Germany physicians to this day still prescribe plant-based medicines more than any other. According to the Discoveries in Medicine website, anesthetics can be defined as “substances administered to deaden pain or produce a state of anesthesia (a condition in which some or all of the senses, especially touch, stop functioning or are reduced).” Oftentimes when we think about anesthetics, we think about surgery however there are many other times in which anesthetics are utilized and can be extremely valuable. Let’s take a look at a few of the anesthetics derived from plants.


One of the most common anesthetics used throughout history when it comes to surgery was alcohol. Alcohol in particular whiskey and vodka have been utilized as strong natural anesthetics to help ease pain. During many periods of War when bullet holes were being fixed, limbs were being sawed off and wounds were being stitched together, alcohol was utilized to naturally clean and sterilize the wound and also as a pain reliever and anesthetic.


Yarrow is another natural anesthetic. This plant-derived anesthetic can be found in a natural plant that stands roughly 12 inches from the ground. The top of the plant has a large white flat look that is made up of several small flowers. Upon identifying the yarrow plant you can pull it from the ground to reveal it’s short plump purple roots. Inside of these roots, there is a juice that is an anesthetic. It causes a numbing effect which is very effective in helping to relieve a toothache.


Cannabis is another powerful anesthetic. This incredible plant has many uses and amazingly a natural plant-derived anesthetic is one of them. The Hispanic culture has been utilizing the anesthetic properties of cannabis by adding fresh buds or flowers from the cannabis plant to rubbing alcohol. This concoction has been utilized to help everything from arthritis to helping heal cuts, scrapes, and burns. Research is confirming what people have known for thousands of years and that is cannabis has a multitude of healing attributes that will benefit society immensely.

Oil of Cloves

Oil of cloves is another natural plant-derived anesthetic. This strong bitter tasting oil has an extreme numbing effect. For people suffering from toothaches such as an abscessed tooth or exposed roots from a cavity oil of clove can be a lifesaver. When applied directly to the tooth the oil of clove will create a burning sensation followed by a very bitter and unpleasant taste. However, the pain relief is worth it all when the nerves are basically burned to the point of not having any feeling any longer. When suffering from an extreme toothache to find relief within a few moments is a true blessing. This power comes from you guessed it a plant-derived anesthetic.


Hemp is also an anesthetic derived from plants. In ancient times the Scythians utilized hemp as an anesthetic by inhaling its smoke. The extracted essential oil from hemp contains CBD. CBD is an anticonvulsant and an anti-inflammatory. This gives this powerful plant natural plant-derived anesthetic capabilities. In the United States of America when the country was being founded it was illegal for farmers to not grow hemp. Today farmers are fighting for the right to grow this powerful plant once again. The healing attributes found in hemp oil offer a natural anesthetic amongst many other healing properties.




Opium is a powerful anesthetic derived from a plant known as the poppy plant. The poppy plant has been used in cultures around the globe for centuries for many different medical applications. One of those applications was as an anesthetic by the Swiss, Egyptians, Persians and others as far back as the 1600s. Opium was utilized as an anesthetic through inhalation as well as through the ingestion of the oil or the application of the oil topically.

Virtually all medicines that we have today came from plants originally. Many of the medicines we currently use still have plant-based derivatives that cannot be synthesized. Common day to day over the counter medications such as aspirin, Tylenol and others would not be if not for the discovery of the plants that held the medicinal properties these pharmaceuticals contain today. With a growing concern about what we’re putting into our bodies, many people are changing towards an organic and natural way of living. This means returning to plant-based medicine and utilizing the healing properties of nature naturally. When we learn to do this, we will discover once again that medicines and anesthetics are derived from plants.