Top 4 Medicinal Herbs for the Garden
Written by: Danna Sharp from Wisteria Herbs
Today I want to talk to you about my top 4 recommended medicinal herbs for you and your garden. The ones that I have included here are highly useful for all types of situations. These plants address several major health issues that people look to botanical medicine for help.
The major acute health conditions that these plant address are:
The first of the conditions that people are always looking for help with is sleep. The first herb I always recommend for sleep is lavender. Lavender is really lovely because I’ve never seen it not work! Unless a person suffers from some intense form of insomnia, lavender usually does the trick. I’ve seen lavender put someone to sleep before who was hallucinating on stimulant prescription medications. Its action can be very profound. It is furthermore safe for pregnancy and children. What is also nice about lavender is when you wake up in the morning after taking it you won’t be drowsy. It puts you to sleep and you don’t need to worry about feeling hung over the next morning. Another important note is that when I refer to lavender-you must drink a tea of the leaves or flowers. Using lavender essential oil topically is not as potent for most. Furthermore, Lavender is very easy to grow, it is low maintenance, and it is readily available for purchase at most plant nurseries.
The next category is medicinal herbs for digestion. Dandelion is one of my favorite garden herbs for digestion. Drinking a tea of dandelion helps stimulate the gallbladder to release bile when you eat. This assists in fat digestion and assimilation. Many people have underfunctioning gallbladders. The magnitude of this health condition is outlined in this article from the Gastroenterology Report:
“Gallstones are prevalent in 10–15% of the adult population (i.e. 20–25 million Americans have, or will have, gallstones). The resultant direct and indirect cost of gallbladder disease represents a consumption of about US$6.5 billion annually in the US, constituting a major health burden that has increased more than 20% over the last three decades. With an estimated 2.2 million ambulatory care visits each year, gallstone disease is also a leading cause for hospital admissions related to gastrointestinal problems.”
Dandelion is a medicinal herb that can support and maintain a healthy gallbladder. Furthermore, dandelion is one of those hardy plants. When you put it into the ground it is very easy to grow! You can eat the green leaves and flowers (I don’t recommend it though, they don’t taste great…) but what I like about dandelion is the taste of the root. I usually dig up the root and roast it to make a good tasting coffee substitute. So if you tend to be a person who has indigestion after eating, roasted dandelion root tea is something you might benefit from. Just make sure the dandelions you eat are not growing in areas where pesticides are used or where animals relieve themselves. Dandelion has some flashy blooms for such a small flower!
For wound care my favorite herb is plantain. I recommend everyone have some in their garden because it is healing for cuts, bruises, stings, sores, rashes, and all sorts of welts and open wounds. Best of all, plantain is very easy to grow and it is very easy to find. Odds are that you won’t even have to put it in your garden, because it is already there! Such a useful weed! I always have this herb available for use in large quantities for emergencies. Plantain is also great for bringing down swelling and removing venom from bites and stings. For wound care, you will want to use a spit poultice. To do this, you take the leaves and chew them up in your mouth. Then you spit the wad back out and put it on the wound. You also do not need to worry about infection with an open wound because plantain is antibacterial. I use this frequently for all sorts of wounds. You can also drink a tea of plantain for internal wounds. So if you have an ulcer, it can help heal the interior lesions. Ulcers are perforations in the intestinal lining typically due to an infection by H. pylori. Plantain also works to fight infection and heal the intestines in that manner. Broad leaf plantain (left) and narrow leaf plantain (right) are commonly found in people’s yards.
Now the last herb that I want to talk to you about is Safflower. Safflower is used for pain of all types. Unlike plantain, which is used for inflammation such as swelling and open wound healing, safflower is for the associated pain. This is going to be things like arthritis, low back pain, menstrual cramps, bruises, and broken bones. It works through its action of moving blood through the wound site. The best way to use safflower from your garden is to make a liniment by steeping the flowers in 40% vodka (higher % alcohol is ok too) for two weeks (plantain would make a nice addition to this liniment as well!) Then the liquid can be applied to the site of pain as needed. Safflower may also be used internally, but should be done so under guidance of a health practitioner. It can thin the blood and be dangerous if combined with certain medications and underlying health conditions. Safflower likes to grow in warm climates and is drought tolerant.
These are the four categories of ailments for which people typically seek herbal support. Growing all four of these in your garden will develop a functional home apothecary for most acute health issues. Chronic or long term health conditions require further nutritional and bodily balancing with herbal and lifestyle plans. However, all four of these herbs are relatively easy to grow, very easy to find, and very easy to maintain. These are the four essentials that I frequently use and recommend everyone keep in their garden for acute health issues:
1) Lavender for sleep
2) Dandelion for digestion
3). Plantain for wounds
4). Safflower for pain
For more questions about medicinal plants and the related health conditions for which they are useful visit: http://www.wisteriaherbs.com/main/consultation-services/
Written by Danna Sharp