Vera, Nadeshda and Lyuba are common womens’ names in Russia and other Slavic countries, corresponding to the virtues faith, hope, and love or charity as translated to English from Greek, found in a chapter and verse in the Corinthian epistles of Paul of the New Testament. Vera variously translated faith or truth is associated with Sophia or wisdom in name and meaning.

Virtue is the word used for the healthy qualities ascribed to plant herbs in the common European tradition.


The article quoted below, Medicinal Plants of the Russian Pharmacopoeia; their history and applications, highlights many plants and uses that are not so well known or appreciated in the west or that are better known for culinary use than as medicine. Dill, tansy, viburnum (highbush cranberry known as kalina/kalinka in Russia),  marsh marigold, sage, anise, caraway, mountain ash, birch buds, everlasting, spruce are some worth noting.

The words and title to the Russian song, Kalinka, Malinka, refer to viburnum/highbush cranberry and raspberry.


This review article examines the data on medicinal plants included in the Russian Pharmacopoeia, which have been used for many years in the officinal Russian medicine; these plants are not very well known as medicines outside of their region of origin.

Aspirin, codeine, digoxin, and other drugs have their origins in herbal medicine (Yarnell, 2000). However, not all of these efforts were successful. Scientists have often found that the herbs themselves, which possess unique combinations of chemical components, are more effective than the chemical derivatives (Li, 2002). As a result, medical science has also focused on the medicinal values of the herbs themselves and how they could best be incorporated into medical practice.

Most importantly, Soviet / Russian scientists contributed significantly to the development of plant-derived adaptogens – tonics that play an important role in the regulation of metabolism. Aralia, Rhodiola, and Chaga are good examples of adaptogens that have been studied extensively (especially in the USSR / Russia).

Since the 12th century, chaga has traditionally been used in Russia for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and even cancer. Allegedly, the Russian duke Vladimir Monomach was cured of lip cancer using chaga (Artemova, 2001). Chaga (in various combinations with other medicinal plants) has been used for the treatment of gastric and duodenal ulcers and for various forms of gastritis (Artemova, 2001 and Kaukin, 2002). Chaga tea increases general stamina, relieves pain and is used to treat heart, stomach, and liver diseases (Gammerman et al., 1984 and Saar, 1991).

Clinical data indicate that when chaga is administered for extended periods, it has beneficial effects in the treatment of patients with stage III – IV of cancer, irrespective of the tumor location. In most of these patients without pronounced cachexia, a 3- to 4-week administration of chaga led to a decrease and a termination of the pain syndrome, which allowed the administration of narcotic drugs to be stopped (Bulatov et al., 1959, Pyaskovskii and Rikhter, 1961 and Shashkina et al., 2006).

The therapeutic effect of the Chaga manifested slowly, reaching a maximum at the 3rd month of regular intake. In most cases, the psoriatic rashes disappeared starting at the torso, then on the scalp, upper limbs and finally, on the hips and lower legs