Saturday, 20 September 2008

Herbs to Plant

Many of you are looking at being self-sufficientish, so thought you may be interested in hearing about some basic herbs to plant in your gardens you can use to treat simple ailments.

Borage - for the worn down person with just too much to do (sound familiar? :)); include chopped leaves and flowers in salads and drinks for a refreshing cucumber flavour, but don't eat too much!

Calendula - such a gorgeous sunny plant, great for burns, cuts, grazes and nappy rash. The petals are also great in salads. Essential if you have children. Will post soon on making ointment of this - really I will :).

Aloe Vera - use the juice for burns, especially sunburn. Again, great when there are children around.

Thyme - fantastic for sore throats and chest colds. In some cultures, they drink a cup of thyme tea every morning during autumn and winter to strengthen their bodies against lurgies. To make the tea, simply place 3 or 4 sprigs in a small tea pot, add boiling water and let steep for 5-10 minutes. Delicious with juice of half a lemon and a teaspoon of honey, especially Manuka honey.

Sage - also great for sore throats. Make an infusion with thyme and gargle to aid a sore throat. And you can swallow this gargle if you like. Breastfeeding mums may want to avoid sage, though, as it will dry up your milk.

Parsley - chock full of vitamin C and iron, a great pick me up for everyone, especially those with heavy periods or anaemia.

Rosemary - great for soothing furrowed brows and aching muscles and for aiding the digestion. Also good for memory and a bee food in late winter.

Garlic - fantastic to eat whenever your body is struggling with an infection, it may also help some people during times of hay fever. Slice up fresh cloves and add them to your cooking in the last couple of minutes - this gives you the great healing properties of raw garlic, while reducing the breath and body odour. Don't ask me why, but it really seems to work.

Elder - see recent post.

Dandelion - don't pull them out, let them grow (well at least some)!! Use their leaves in salads as a bitter herb to aid digestion, brew up a tea of the leaves for fluid retention and dry and roast the roots for a coffee substitute, which is also good for your liver. Just make sure you have positively identified the plant as dandelion and it is not something that merely looks like it.

Chamomile - the flowers are great for soothing teas for people who find it difficult to relax and good for helping babies and children during teething; great for babies of all ages.

Feverfew - if someone in your house gets migraines, this may be the very herb they need.

Basil - a good digestive aid, it is also very effective at relieving some headaches. I combine it with lavender and peppermint to help reduce the severity of migraines.

Lavender - as well as being beautiful to look at, lavender oil is great for healing burns and the flowers can be used in combination with basil and peppermint for migraines.

Peppermint - great for colic and digestive upsets, but don't use for someone who gets oesophageal reflux; helps cool and soothe hot heads.

Yarrow - magic for deep cuts and wounds which are bleeding freely. Stuff some leaves into the wound to stop or slow the bleeding, while you seek further medical attention.

Melissa (Lemon Balm) - lovely soothing tea to help those "busy bees" in life calm down and relax.

Marjoram - as well as being a culinary herb of merit, some marjoram oil on the temples, a cup of marjoram tea or even a generous sprig under the pillow will help people get a restful night's sleep.

These are just a few of the wonderful healing herbs suitable for a domestic garden. As always, this information is intended for general interest only and is not intended to be medical advice. Please consult your health professional for assistance with any health issues.

love and light


flmom said...

I have one aloe plant and would like to have more. My oldest thinks it's a very cool thing! Herbs are one area I'm trying to expand in my gardening endeavors.

plantainpatch said...

Great list!

Crazy Mumma said...

Oooh, timely advice NW, thanks :-)

Ariad said...

I've got a few of these and have been wanting to expand the herb garden. Thanks for the list and ideas.

Wendy said...

I love posts like this. Yours is so informative. I hadn't heard of borage before. I grew some lemon verbena in a pot on my deck this summer. I love the lemony smell of the leaves, but don't know what to do with it. Do you have any ideas?
It's autumn tomorrow in my part of the world (canada). So you, dear one, must be looking foward to Spring. Lucky you!

Honeymark said...

Manuka Honey is my favorite natural ingredient. In addition to tasting great, it has natural antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. It's great for stomach aches, stomach ulcers, acid reflux, gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome, infected wounds, burns, acne, eczema, ringworm, etc.

Cheryl said...

Great Post Naturewitch.....lots to absorb and try.......

I have my Mum taking thyme at the moment.....she is finding it helpful.....she has breathing problems......I love picking it from my garden for her......

I had a dog many years ago that would roll all over my thyme plants.....I found out at a later date she had chest and lung problems.....self medication, I don't know, but she enjoyed it.....

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for that list NW, I have ordered what I dont have in the to learn how to utilise their qualities lol


naturewitch said...

Hi Flmom and Ariad
With your climates, you'll both probably be able to grow a range of different herbs to what I can grow, maybe even some of the Asian ones or Basil during winter. I look forward to reading of your efforts.

Thanks, Plantainpatch and Crazymumma - hope your herbs are doing well.

Hi Wendy
Lemon Verbena is a favourite of mine, too. Just love the delicious smell from the leaves and the perfume from the flowers is exquisite.
Lemon Verbena leaves can be dried and used in a tea for a variety of purposes - to relax and sedate the nerves, to allay anxieties, to reduce fevers and as an aid for digestion, especially where there is indigestion, colic, flatulence and diarrhoea involved. Useful little beauty, isn't it?

Hey Honeymark
Welcome to my blog. Had a quick look at yours and there looks to be heaps of useful info about Manuka Honey. Will definitely revisit for a closer read.

Hi Cheryl
Good to see you back from your travels. Now its Autumn for you, there may be a couple of herbs you can plant, like Chickweed (Stellaria media) or Marshmallow, but mostly you'll probably have to wait for next spring. The good thing is a lot of herbs are very attractive to bees.

Hey Molly
Glad you're getting on the herb path - great little medicine chest to have in your garden, especially for your little ones.

love and light

Rebsie Fairholm said...

Something I like to do with borage flowers (given that they are so abundant) ... if you pull the little black spike out of the centre and then stick your tongue into the centre of the flower and suck (!) you experience the most amazing burst of magical nectar sweetness. Then you understand why the bees are so interested in it, mmmm ...

As my garden descends soggily into autumn, it is weird to see yours just emerging into new life!