Humans have been using medicinal plants in natural remedies since the dawn of our development in the Paleolithic Era. Over the course of our history, we’ve come to better understand the innate therapeutic potential in some plants and the poisonous nature of others.
Today, while we mostly (and sensibly) rely on synthetic pharmaceuticals for treating and managing a wide variety of health problems, we still find value in the ancient traditions of drinking tea, using herb-infused salves and balms, and even applying poultices.
Ways to Use Medicinal Plants at Home
In my house, I use medicinal plants in several different ways. Here are just a few.
- In tea to ease stomach upset, nausea, sore throat, or anxiety
- In a sleep mask to help promote quality rest
- In the bath to ease sore muscles and enhance relaxation
- In creams to relieve muscle pain and stiffness
- In aromatherapy to reduce anxiety and cleanse the air
Benefits of a Medicinal Herb Garden
You might be wondering what the point is of growing your own medicinal garden. I get it. In today’s fast-paced culture, it’s certainly quicker and more convenient to buy whatever we need from the plethora of stores all around us. Hear me out on this one, though.
Growing your own medicinal garden means:
- You have access to fresh herbs all season
- You can dry or freeze excess herbs for winter
- You save money
- You start a hobby that’s good for your physical and mental health
- You get natural decor for your balcony or backyard
- You have confidence about what’s in your natural remedies
Best Medicinal Plants for Beginners
The following medicinal plants are all easy to grow at home, even if you don’t have a green thumb.
1. Roman Chamomile
The medicinal properties of Roman Chamomile are in its flower heads. These can be plucked and dried for many recipes, but the most popular is certainly herbal tea.
Traditionally, chamomile is used for a range of health issues including hay fever, inflammation, muscle spasms, menstrual disorders, insomnia, ulcers, wounds, gastrointestinal disorders, rheumatic pain, and hemorrhoids.
Recent research suggests chamomile may help with cardiovascular conditions, immune system stimulation, and cancer prevention. It also has been found to have muscle-relaxing effects, which is why people have been using it to calm upset stomachs for many generations.
2. Sacred Holy Basil
Sacred Holy Basil, or Tulsi, is a personal favourite with a rich past. Known as the “Elixir of Life,” its spicy leaves have been used in Ayurveda medicine for more than 3,000 years.
In the past, tulsi has been used in an extract form to help with bronchitis, rheumatism, cough, hiccups, headaches, wounds, and parasitic infections.
Today, reviewed studies suggest that tulsi is an effective adaptogen beneficial for balancing the “psychological, physiological, immunological, and metabolic stresses of modern living.” It is best prepared as a hot tea with high-quality honey.
Another popular culinary herb, sage can be used in sauces, marinades, and seasonings. It can also be dried and added into any tea for a boost of herbal nutrition.
Traditionally, sage has been used to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, fight infection, decrease depression, enhance memory, and aid in digestion.
Research suggests sage has therapeutic promise for diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.
Anyone who knows me knows I love lavender. It’s in my teas, in my tubs, in my creams, in my sleep mask, in my linen spray, in my laundry… Some may say I’m slightly obsessed.
The beautiful and fragrant flowers won me over years ago because of their provencalming, sedating, and pain-relieving effects.
You can grow bushes of this herb in a sunny spot to attract pollinators and provide a bountiful supply of fresh flowers that can be dried and used in culinary and medicinal recipes.
The kind of echinacea you want for a beginner medicinal herb garden is the purple coneflower. It’s easier than other varieties to grow and will attract native pollinators to your garden.
You can harvest the roots, flowers, and seeds of this plant to use medicinally. Some people prepare teas, juices, capsules and tablets, or extracts to help prevent the common cold.
Research indicates that the best way to use this medicinal plant is before you get sick, not after.
Peppermint is one of the easiest on this list to grow. Just make sure you have ample space reserved in your garden because it spreads quickly and returns each year. In fact, if space is any concern at all, you might consider keeping your peppermint confined in a container.
You can eat your garden-grown peppermint leaves fresh or you can dry them and add into herbal tea to aid with digestion.
Research shows many positive effects of this plant including antiviral and antimicrobial activities, antioxidant and anti-tumor actions, pain relief, and gastrointestinal tissue relaxation.
Rosemary is a popular culinary herb used in many sauces and marinades. It is easy to grow and fairs well in outdoor or indoor gardens.
Research has shown this herb has potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties. Its compounds have even shown therapeutic promise for Alzheimer’s Disease.
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