Grow these healing herbs in your herb garden, and you will have a natural first aid kit always at hand. Whether your herb garden is in the backyard or on a window sill, the following medicinal herbs are always good to have at home.
Mint (Mentha – several varieties including Mentha piperita, peppermint) is easy to grow (in fact it can be difficult to contain it once it starts growing). Drink mint or peppermint tea after a meal to help digestion. Drink hot mint or peppermint infusion if you have a cold, or drink cold mint tea on hot summer days to cool down. Add fresh mint or peppermint to a foot bath to refresh tired feet.
The thymus family has many members, but one of the most commonly used is Thymus vulgaris, which also gives us Thyme essential oil. Make a thyme infusion if you have a cough or a cold, or if you’re getting a sore throat. Add thyme to a bath to revive tired or achy muscles — Roman soldiers apparently believed thyme baths would give them strength and courage.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a great cooking herb with many therapeutic properties. Add rosemary to your bath water to improve circulation and to relieve muscle aches and pains. Use rosemary in cooking to improve digestion – add it especially to heavy and fatty dishes. Add fresh rosemary to a facial sauna or a steam inhalation for a home beauty treatment or to relieve sinus congestion. Make a rosemary infusion and use it as a final rinse after washing your hair; rosemary is especially good for dark hair.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is believed to lift the mood, so drink an infusion if you’re feeling low, or to relieve nervous tension. Use fresh leaves as a quick home remedy for insect bites. Lemon balm infusion is also a good drink during fevers and headaches.
Lavender is not only a beautiful addition to your garden, it is one of the most commonly used herbs in herbal medicine and in aromatherapy (as lavender essential oil). Lavandula angustifolia is one of the most popular varieties of lavender used in herbal medicine. Make an infusion of lavender flowers and drink it during times of stress, or in the evening for better sleep. Add lavender flowers to your bath water for a calming evening bath and to relax tense muscles. Place pouches filled with lavender flowers in your linen cupboard to keep moths away and to add a delicate lavender scent to your bed linens.
Add marjoram (Origanum majorana) to herbal baths to relieve aches and pains. Drink marjoram infusion to relieve irritability, tiredness, colds, nervous headaches or nervous tension. Add marjoram to stews and soups to improve digestion.
An infusion of sage (Salvia officinalis), especially red sage, is a great home remedy for sore throats. Drink the infusion or gargle several times a day. Sage improves digestion too. Dried sage leaves keep insects away from your bed linens. Add sage leaves to a facial sauna for a home beauty treatment. Don’t drink large amounts of sage infusions continuously for long periods of time, and sage remedies are not usually recommended for pregnant women.
Which medicinal herbs do you grow? Do you make your own herbal home remedies?
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Sources: Bremness, Lesley: The Complete Book of Herbs: A Practical Guide to Growing and Using Herbs (Studio, 1994)