Modern medicine is a wonderful thing, but that doesn’t mean we can’t also take advantage of natural remedies. For me, the very act of gardening can be a healing process, reducing stress and boosting my mood. Paired with these 13 healing herbs, I like to think I have a recipe for good health growing outside.
1. Aloe Vera
Possibly the easiest plant to cultivate on this list, aloe vera is best known for its ability to soothe sunburns. The succulent grows quickly and is very drought resistant, making it ideal for warmer climates and as a container herb. Aloe vera also has anti-inflammatory properties that help heal minor cuts, burns, or dry and damaged skin, and it requires no processing — simply slice open a leaf and scrape out the gel.
When I am stressed or having trouble sleeping, my go-to solution is a cup of chamomile tea. The flower heads of Roman chamomile make a soothing tea that helps relax an unsettled mind, and the plant is relatively hardy.
Fancy a cup of peppermint tea to soothe an upset stomach or gas? How about tea brewed from leaves straight from your garden? Peppermint and its active ingredient, menthol, help calm upset stomachs, nausea, and indigestion, plus the cooling effect of menthol means that you can make a poultice out of peppermint leaves to reduce inflammation and the itching and burning associated with skin allergies.
Sage is a savory cooking herb that might also help women with PMS and menopause, according to scientific studies. The plant is also a traditional remedy against diabetes complications; evidence suggests that drinking sage tea twice a day has beneficial effects for diabetics.
It is hard to deny that the smell of lavender is therapeutic, and the evidence backing up its place in sleep therapy is pretty solid. A sachet of dried lavender or lavender oil can help troubled sleepers get a good night’s rest, and an infusion of lavender and water takes advantage of the antiseptic and antibacterial qualities of the herb to cleanse your skin.
Calendula, aside from being an attractive flower, also has anti-inflammatory properties and can be used to relieve inflammation in your mouth, throat, and stomach by making a tea from the petals. It has a long history of medicinal use, and is often called by its common name, pot marigold.
Catnip isn’t just for cats. A tea made from fresh or dried catnip leaves can help quiet an upset stomach and reduce anxiety. You may also find that watching your cat play with a catnip sachet is relaxing, and your cat will thank you for this addition.
You may consider comfrey a weed, or maybe a useful addition to your compost pile, but comfrey also has traditional uses that have earned it nicknames like boneset. These days, external application is recommended over consumption, so it is best to use comfrey to make a poultice that promotes tissue repair and regeneration and soothes arthritis.
Echinacea is one of the most widely known healing herbs today and is a popular item in natural health food stores, where it is sold as a tea and supplement. Echinacea is believed to have antiviral and immune system enhancing properties, which makes it very popular among individuals suffering from the common cold. Instead of buying Echinacea, try growing your own in your garden and harvest the roots for their curative properties.
You’ve probably heard about your friend or relative’s infamous cure-all, and if you’ve ever had the misfortune to taste it, then you know that garlic is an essential ingredient. Well, it turns out that they might be on to something. Garlic is an antimicrobial, as well as a delicious flavor additive, that can help with sinus congestion, colds, and even traveler’s diarrhea. Plus, it might help lower blood pressure.
11. Great Mullein
In case you are not sure what is so great about the weed Great Mullein, you might want to consult the tall, flowering plant’s 2,000-year history of treating respiratory tract problems like tuberculosis and infections. A tea made from the leaves and flowers acts as an expectorant to loosen phlegm and flush it out. You can also use the tea to help get rid of warts.
Forget about reaching for a can of ginger ale next time you have the flu. Instead, prepare yourself (or better yet, have a loved one prepare it for you) a tea made from ginger from your garden or greenhouse to ease nausea and vomiting. A sweetened ginger tea can help you combat cold and flu symptoms, and it also tastes delicious.
There is a reason rosemary is known as the herb of remembrance. Studies have found that rosemary does indeed enhance memory and cognitive function. There is even evidence that it might help prevent Alzheimer’s and brain aging, not to mention the fact that rosemary is a wonderful addition to most meat recipes.
It is tempting to think that herbs and natural cures are helpful and harmless, but that is not always the case. Always do your research about any new herbal supplement to make sure it does not interact with any of your existing medications, and do some research into side effects and potential allergic reactions. Also, if you have a serious medical condition, make sure seek out a healthcare professional for advice on how best to incorporate herbal remedies into your treatment plan.