A medicinal herb garden was a home remedy necessity back in the colonial days. Modern medicine has bought us products for a large variety of ailments, very often produced from these very same herbs, and has strongly overshadowed nature’s wonders for a long period of time. Homeopathic has taken its place in this “market” in the more recent decades offering, to say the least, an interesting alternative to the mass-produced offerings of the pharmaceutical empire.
Nowadays and for a number of (good) reasons, people are coming back nature’s way and culinary and medicinal herb gardening certainly has gained in momentum in recent years. A medicinal garden can indeed be a household basic to treat a variety of ailments. There are many ways to use these wonderful plants, but most often the leaves, flowers and other useful parts of the plants will be mix with boiling water to make teas or infusions. They can also be mixed with other ingredients to form a natural creme or oil.
Below is a general list of herbs and their therapeutic and/or medicinal proprieties. Please be advised that I am in no way a medical doctor or professional and this should not be considered medical advice. As helpful as these herbs can be, a wrong combination can provoke negative effect from mild to serious. Be curious and research the information necessary to use them well. For instance, honey and lemon are often added to teas for flavoring, but they add their own propriety to the mix which in this case are health benefits.
Herbs and Their Medicinal Uses:
Angelica: This herb is used for it’s antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Herbal tea made from its dried leaves will give an energy boost, stimulate the circulation of blood and reduce flatulence
- Sweet Basil: This herb is used for culinary purposes and, as a tea mix is a great remedy for upset stomach and indigestion. Made into an oil, it is used to massage sore aching muscles.
- Calendula: The flowers from this plant is pretty and serves a good purpose. The steeped flowers are used as a mouthwash and excellent for the gums. The petals and plantain leaves are made into a cream that can be used for cuts and wounds.
- Catnip: Known to drive cats pretty nuts, this herb tea produced from catnip is an efficient natural cold remedy. It reduces fever and can also be taken for headaches and an upset stomach.
- Chamomile: Helps induce sleep when taken as a herbal tea. It is known as a creme applied to heal dry skin problems.
- Common Yarrow: Another natural cold remedy helpful in reducing fever and flu symptoms. It is taken as a tea, often with elderflower and peppermint. The flower petals are made into a cream to treat cuts.
- Coriander: Used for its sedative properties. It is used as a sleep or calming aid when drank as a tea.
- Feverfew: It reduces fevers and helps prevent muscle spasms in herbal tea form. Chewing 5 leaves every day is suggested for those who suffer from headaches and even migraines.
- Horehound: Used as a sore throat remedy and is often mixed with honey.
- Hyssop: A natural cold remedy and an efficient home remedy for a sore throat when taken as a herbal tea.
- Peppermint: Crushed leaves added to boiling water is a wonderful air freshener and is very efficient as an inhalant to loosen phlegm. The mint plant comes in a large variety is also used for food flavoring.
- Echinacea Purpurea also was known as Purple Coneflower: It is used as an immune system stimulant when steeped in water.
- St. John’s Wort: Often prescribed as an herbal remedy for depression because of its sedative properties.
- Thyme: Used in a variety of food recipes. As an herbal tea with honey added, it relieves a sore throat and/or a scratchy cough.
- Valerian: The root has sedative properties used to treat anxiety. In a creme variation, it can be used for acne and skin rashes.
There are many other herbs to treat you and your loved ones but this gives you a good idea of the possibilities to grow a very practical herb medicine “cabinet” for quick solutions to various ailments.
How to Plant a Medicinal Herb Garden:
If you wish to start from seeds, begin the seeding indoors in small-sized containers and a sunny area. If light arrangements are not to your liking, you can easily resort to a fluorescent light or “grow light” to compensate. Avery thin layer will cover the seeds. Sowing should begin about 6 weeks preceding the last frost expected in your time zone. Water very sparingly, avoiding dislodging the seeds.
A few weeks before the anticipated last frost of the season, it would be a good idea to start exposing the little plants to the outside environment a few hours a day. Once the last frost has come and gone, it will be the time to transplant the growing plants out in the garden preferably in a raised bed. Some will prefer transplanting them in larger pots which is also fine.
If you prefer to wait after the last frost, you can simply buy the little plants and transplant them the same way as described above. Remove the plants gently from the pots so as not to disturb the roots. Once planted you can water them thoroughly. To reduce the plant’s shock during the move, you should favor a cloudy day or early dusk.
From that point on, you will be amazed at all the benefits of growing medicinal herbs can provide for you and your family.