Growing a Medicinal Herb Garden

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How cool would it be if the next time you got a cut, have a headache, or are experiencing stomach pain, you could walk into your garden and find a cure for your ailment? Herbs and plants have been used as medicine since the beginning of time, and most modern medicines can be traced back find their root in an herbal remedy.

Here are five very common medicinal herbs that you could grow easily at home.

Chamomile

You probably recognize this first and foremost as a tea. This plant’s flowers look a lot like a daisy, producing little buds with yellow centers and white petals. The tea is usually made of a combination of dried buds and other parts of the plant. There are many medicinal purposes found for chamomile including being a gentle sleep aid as well as an agent to ease digestion. You can also use chamomile tea to wash out wounds and sores. In 26 countries, it is an approved treatment for inflammation, infection, colic, muscle spasms and tension. You can make a tea using the dried flowers and drink it 3-4 times a day to relieve an upset stomach.

Yarrow

This is a flowering plant that produces little flat clusters of white flowers. If you wanted to grow this plant, there is little to no care involved; it can grow basically anywhere. You harvest the stalks when it is in full bloom and put it out to dry. Yarrow contains an alkaloid called achilleine which is responsible for stanching blood flow, so it is commonly used to stop bleeding in small cuts. The next time you cut yourself, wash it out (yarrow doesn’t inhibit bacterial growth), then place some crushed yarrow flowers/leaves in the cut. The bleeding should stop almost immediately. You can also use a tea made out of the herb to treat colds and fevers.

Lemon Balm

This little green herb is a favorite of bees. It is in the same family as mint and is high in essential oil content. It is used to reduce fevers, treat colds, calm your digestive tract, relieve muscle spasms, treat headaches, and overcome insomnia. Recent research on the plant has shown that it can also calm anxiety and inhibit fungi/bacteria growth. It is a slightly sprawling herb, and can grow to be two feet high. It is most effective when it is used fresh, so this is a good one to grow yourself. You harvest the leaves just as it begins to bloom and dry them. The leaves, fresh or dried, can be steeped into a very nice refreshing tea.

Peppermint

This herb has been used as medicine for a very long time. Peppermint tea was traditionally used to treat insomnia, an upset stomach, indigestion, nervous tension, colds, cramps, diarrhea and nausea. More recently, research has shown that the plant’s essential oil contains chemicals that relieve muscle spasms and inhibit the growth of bacteria and viruses. Peppermint stalks can grow up to 3 feet tall, and it does best in moist soil and full sun. You harvest the leaves as they mature and dry them in a warm, dark place. You can make a tea out of the dried leaves and drink it up to three times a day to help digestion.

Echinacea

This is a very popular plant for an medicinal herb garden and is a top seller in health-food stores. Many know this herb and it’s family collectively as purple coneflower, but echinacea has become the group’s most common name. It was historically used by the Plains Indians more than any other plant for medicine. Now it is used as extracts, tinctures, ointments, or salves to strengthen the immune system against viral and bacterial invaders. The plant itself is fairly low maintenance, can handle half shade, and is resilient in a drought. Many people suggest using the echinacea root for medicinal use, but you can also make a tea of the fresh or dried flowers. In addition to tea, more dedicated gardeners can make a tincture. You chop an entire plant, place it in a gallon jar, and pour in about a fifth of 190-proof grain alcohol along with enough water to cover the plant material. You then set aside the jar for two weeks. At this point the tincture is ready and will retain its effectiveness for at least a year. You can swallow about 1 to 2 teaspoons of the tincture four or five times a day to treat a cold.

This information and more can be found at https://www.motherearthliving.com/gardening/herbs-anyone-can-grow

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