In (not-so-long-ago) days past, many families kept a little herb garden–even if it was in a windowbox.
The herbs were good for cooking but also for first aid and healing of various physical woes.
You had what you needed growing fresh at your home, ready for the picking. The need is no less now.
You can grow many medicinal plants in your own backyard; here are ten herbs that you may not have considered for your home, garden, patio, or windowbox.
1. Aloe Vera
This succulent is a great house plant, filtering the air and requiring very little care. All you need is a sunny window. The sap in the leaves is used to treat burns, cuts, eczema and psoriasis–reducing inflammation, soothing, and moisturizing.
Taken internally, it can treat and prevent constipation, kidney stones and digestive problems–even ulcerative colitis. Aloe vera has even been found to inhibit skin cancer and lower the risk of heart disease.
Cynarin is a phytochemical found in artichoke leaves (not the flower buds that we usually eat in salads) that stimulates the kidneys, liver, and gallbladder, making them a good choice for solving digestive troubles. The cynarin is also effective to lower blood cholesterol.
Known for its soothing properties, chamomile relieves stress, allowing for restful sleep. It also calms an upset stomach or acid reflux and aids digestion. The crushed herb soothes minor aches and pains, including those caused by neuralgia.
4. Chinese Yam
This is no sweet potato, but a true yam. All parts of this vegetable can relieve a variety of conditions; the root has been used to treat fatigue, diarrhea, asthma, dry coughs, diabetes, high cholesterol, and digestion issues. Topically, it can be used on ulcers, boils, and abscesses. The leaves have treated snakebites and scorpion stings.
5. Gotu Kola
Sounds like a must-have soft drink but it’s not. This Asian plant has been used medicinally for treating varicose veins, skin conditions, epilepsy, and insomnia.
The gotu kola contains phytochemicals called triterpenoids that reduce inflammation and produce a calming effect. It also helps to revitalize the nervous system, sharpening focus and concentration. This plant needs to be close to water to thrive.
6. Great Burdock
The flowers are very cool. Aside from that, the roots of this plant are potent detoxifiers, providing healing relief of various skin conditions, such as burns, rashes, boils, herpes, impetigo, ringworm, insect bites, and acne. Burdock leaves and seeds can be crushed to make into a poultice to treat burns, bruises, and skin sores.
All the rage some years ago when the West finally “discovered” this ancient herb, the leaves of echinacea boost the immune system, promoting antibacterial and antiviral activity.
Antibiotic properties help relieve allergies and the symptoms of colds, flu, and respiratory infection. The roots have been used to treat skin sores and burns and animal bites and stings.
The flower of the marigold (calendula) is edible, used to treat fevers and chronic infection. Made as a tea, it can improve blood circulation. Applied topically, petals take the pain out of insect stings and cuts and can soothe eye injury.
Marigold used in an ointment was found to speed healing of venous leg ulcers. The stems of this hardy plant, when crushed and applied to corns or warts, will over time soften the skin, allowing their removal.
No, not the kind you toast over a campfire. The marshmallow plant has very little in common with the common campfire marshmallow; the roots have medicinal value in treating urinary and respiratory maladies, cystitis, gastritis and peptic ulcers, and as an antacid.
When applied topically, it can speed healing of sprains, bruises, sore muscles, insect bites, and skin inflammation. The juice of the marshmallow can draw out splinters for easy removal. The leaves are edible and tasty and can be used as any other green leafy food.
10. Siberian Ginseng (Eleuthero)
Unrelated to ginseng but called “Siberian ginseng” because it has similar properties, this is an ancient herb indigenous to Russia, China, Korea, and Japan.
It has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to promote health of the spleen and kidneys, support the immune system, reduce inflammation, counter respiratory tract infections and heart disease. Studies have shown promise that eleuthero can improve athletic performance.
Clear a little patch of earth to plant the seeds of health.