All-natural remedies are garnering more and more interest these days, so it only makes sense that winter gardeners are looking for ways to make their gardens do double duty as medicine cabinets and beautiful, healthy displays of plants. By choosing the right varieties and knowing how and when to use them, you can guarantee that something on your windowsill will help you maintain your standard level of health and treat various mild ailments safely.
Of course, including these plants in your garden doesn't guarantee that you'll instantly cure complex medical conditions, but (in appropriate doses) each one of them has been proven to have a significant positive effect on different aspects of a person's health. While most of them are common, it's still possible to have allergies to some of these varieties or experience skin irritation when touching them, so check with your doctor before bringing any of them into your home.
This succulent is one of the most popular medicinal plants among home gardeners, mostly because it's fairly easy to care for. If you break off a small stem from this plant, the juice can be used to treat minor burns, rashes, and even some forms of dermatitis. The fact that aloe vera has these anti-inflammatory properties is the reason why you often find soothing gels infused with it (most commonly used to treat sunburns). Still, you can cut out those extra ingredients by using the juice from your own fresh aloe plants!
Greater burdock in particular is known for its woody roots, which have been brewed into medicinal teas for many years now. More specifically, this tea has been known to purify the blood, relieve arthritis-related aches and pains, and combat cancer. Growing it from seed is possible indoors, and while its flavor is rather bittersweet, the benefits speak for themselves. Think of it as a similar option to dandelion tea (which itself is more frequently available during the summer, when dandelions run rampant outdoors).
Lavender emits a heavenly perfume, but when it's distilled to create an essential oil, it has many health benefits to offer. The smell of it is thought to ease anxiety, relieve some of the symptoms of depression, and even combat hair loss. Keeping the plant itself in your home can create a calming atmosphere, and making some homemade lavender oil might be just the thing to pep you up this winter.
Although it's generally regarded as an outdoor weed, one particular variety of purslane is quite the amazing edible plant. Many people say it tastes like spinach, and its health benefits range from improving urinary and digestive health to promoting healthier skin. It can be grown indoors from cuttings — which is especially advised if you want to grow a small pot of it to transplant outdoors when warmer weather arrives. Purslane is also sometimes fried for a savory twist on an otherwise healthy leafy green.
Peppermint has a slew of health benefits, from alleviating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) to helping with upper respiratory illnesses like the cold and flu. Peppermint tea can make for an energizing alternative to a caffeinated beverage, and the plant itself can be distilled into a potent oil that retains many of its nutrients long after its leaves would have gone bad. Nonetheless, the leaves are still quite lush and beautiful, and it never hurts to have a few of them handy for a pot of tea or a delicious mint chocolate dessert.
Want to fight the bacteria and the microbes? Getting more basil in your diet may be just the ticket. Cultivating a basil plant indoors will also fill your home those wonderful aromas that remind you of pesto. There are between 50 and 150 different species of basil, so make sure you're aiming for a cultivar of sweet basil (though even within that category there will be pronounced differences in flavor).
Fenugreek can help stimulate milk production in nursing mothers, and it is also generally good for reducing inflammation, which can mark the onset of several different life-threatening illnesses and conditions. This plant is perfect for indoor cultivation and is most commonly known for its use as a spice in traditional Indian dishes. Add either dried or fresh fenugreek leaves to your next curry to harness some of its health benefits.
Besides making a scrumptious addition to a savory focaccia bread, rosemary also contains rosemaric acid, an antioxidant that is also thought to be anti-bacterial in nature. It grows easily both inside and outside, making it ideal for those who know they won't have a lot of time to tend to their plants.
Many of the medicinal herbs and plants listed above would also make wonderful additions to your culinary treats, so think about adding a little bit of your thriving indoor garden to some of your meals, too. They'll add healthy nutrients to your food while also adding some homegrown flavor!