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Mistletoe, a parasitic plant that grows on a wide range of host trees, shows up on every continent but Antarctica - and on each continent, it's been used in folk medicine. From ancient Greece into twentieth-century America, it was prescribed for epilepsy. Over the centuries, healers have used mistletoe to treat arthritis, menstrual problems, miscarriage (through controlling bleeding), hypertension, and pain - and that's just the short list. It's prescribed frequently in Europe. But don't try any of these uses without a trained health practitioner, because mistletoe can be toxic.

Dong Quai

Apr 25, 2014

4/26/14: This week on "The Plant Detective:" Dong Quai, or Chinese angelica, is sometimes called the "female ginseng" for its role as a balancer of the female reproductive system. It's used for menstrual cramps, abnormal periods, and symptoms of PMS and menopause. Dong Quai is not recommended if you're pregnant or breast-feeding or if you're taking blood-thinning medicine, and it can make your skin light-sensitive.

Bitter Melon II

Apr 11, 2014

4/12/14: This week on "The Plant Detective:" Bitter melon's ability to bring down blood sugar is proven, and it holds promise for treating complications of diabetes as a non-animal source of injectable insulin.