Homegrown Herbal Remedies
Homegrown Herbal Remedies
“The primary benefit is being able to develop a relationship with that herb,” says Jen Bredesen, an herbalist and teacher at the California School of Herbal Studies. Even novice gardeners can concoct simple home remedies like teas and salves using Bredesen’s list of the top nine easy-to-grow medicinal herbs.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
Calendula is also known as pot marigold. It’s a centuries-old antifungal, antiseptic, wound-healing ally, according to the National Library of Medicine. The petals of these cheerful yellow and orange daisy-like flowers lend skin-soothing properties to many natural cosmetics and diaper creams.
Calendula is a freely reseeding annual that blooms all season long. It makes a lovely addition to gardens with full sun. Harvest the petals fresh. You can also dry entire blooms — which close in the evening — before they form seeds.
Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)
Few think of this plant as a medicinal herb, but studies show it’s a powerful digestive aid and may be capable of removing heavy metals and other toxic agents from the body.
Cilantro grows best in a cool, moist garden and will quickly bolt in hot weather. Look for slow bolt varieties from seed companies.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon balm is tasty and gentle enough for children when prepared in teas or tinctures with a glycerin base.
This calming and uplifting perennial makes a pretty patch of bright green in the garden and is a great plant to grow fresh. The dried herb loses some potency after six months.
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
Peppermint may relieve digestive discomforts like indigestion and vomiting when brewed as tea. It can also soothe sore muscles when applied topically as a liquid or lotion.
All mints spread rampantly in a moist garden. Consider growing each plant in its own large pot. Harvest leaves just before flowering. Any longer and they’ll begin to taste bitter.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
A row of these long-lived and drought-tolerant plants makes a beautiful, bee-friendly evergreen hedge. You may only need one plant in your garden — a little goes a long way.
Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
Mullein’s soothing an properties may help heal bronchial respiratory infections, according to NYULMC. The leaves are commonly added to cough formulas.
Give this handsome and stately biennial plenty of space, and stand back in wonder. The sturdy, yellow-flowered stem will emerge from within a rosette of thick, hairy leaves, reaching skyward nearly six feet!
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Modern herbalists rely on the antibacterial and antiseptic properties of thyme’s oils to prevent winter colds and flu. Many cultivars exist beyond the straight species, including sweet-tasting citrus varieties that are perfect tummy remedies for children.
Woody lavender plants prefer hot, sunny, and dry environments. The fresh flowers are tasty in small doses when added to salads, honey, butter, lemonade, and even shortbread cookies. If you’re crafty, try sewing up an herbal heating pad or eye pillow with the fragrant dried flowers.
German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
The NCCIH reports that chamomile is one of the best herbs for treating colic, nervous stress, infections, and stomach disorders in children. In fact, it was chamomile tea that Peter Rabbit’s mother fixed for him after his stressful chase in Mr. McGregor’s garden!
Herbal Garden Allies
Be sure to choose plants that suit the light, water, and temperature conditions of your garden. For example, rosemary, lavender, and mullein are best for warm, dry spots in full sun. Cilantro and mint prefer rich, moist areas with shade.