The Herbs and Flowers You Need to Create a Stunning, and Healing, Medicinal Garden
Herbal medicine predates written language and recorded history. Archaeologists have found evidence of herbal medicine usage as far back as 60,000 years at research sites in present day Iraq. Now, we have chemically synthesized medicines that, without a doubt, save lives and cure disease, however, our modern medicine doesn’t nullify the value and importance of natural medicine. In fact, some of our most powerful drugs are still derived from plants! Did you know that two common drugs used in fighting childhood leukemia come from Madagascar periwinkle?
The plant has been used by indigenous peoples for ages to treat diabetes, however it was discovered to have cancer-fighting properties in the 1950s. We have not yet figured out how to synthesize these chemicals, so we still use the plant extract itself to make these life-saving medicines, reminding us that science is amazing, but sometimes you just can’t beat nature.
As a matter of fact, there are MANY modern medicines that come from plants, or that were developed because of our understanding of plant science. And traditional herbal medicine is still practiced today in much of the world. But you don’t have to be an expert or consult a mysterious medicine woman to add herbal medicines to your cabinet. Here are a few safe and simple herbs you can incorporate into your health and wellness routine:
For Insomnia: Chamomile, Lavender, Valerian Root
All three of these herbs have long been used to reduce tension and settle the mind and body in preparation for sleep. Valerian Root is especially trusted as a natural sleep aid. Drinking a hot tea in the evening of any one or more of these herbs is a great way to treat yourself to a little R&R.
For Pain: Feverfew, Ginger, Turmeric
If you suffer from chronic pain or frequent headaches, or deal with muscle soreness after a workout or a day on your feet, these options may help to relieve your discomfort. They’re great options to try for anyone looking to lessen their use of over-the-counter pain medications. Ginger is known to have anti-inflammatory properties, as well as a host of other health benefits. Feverfew, as you might guess, is used to reduce fever, but also helps curb pain from rheumatoid arthritis and toothaches. Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory and has shown in some studies to be as effective as Ibuprofen in pain relief. It’s also easily incorporated into the diet in juices, smoothies, soups, or curry.
For Energy: Ginseng, Peppermint, Ashwagandha
All three of these herbs have been shown to improve energy, brain function, focus, and physical performance. Peppermint is probably the easiest to grow in your home garden and is great when used as an essential oil in a diffuser, as studies suggest that simply inhaling the scent of peppermint sharpens your focus and enhances your mood. Ginseng is popular for athletes and is commonly found in supplements and beverages. Ashwagandha is truly ancient and has continually proven to have a powerful effect on cognitive function, alertness, and even reaction time.
Powerhouse Herbs to Keep on Hand
There are a few herbs that are just good to have around, as they can address all sorts of ailments and issues. This is only a short list. In fact, most medicinal herbs have more than one use, and it’s a good idea to get an herbal guide or do some research if you’re interested in knowing more!
Ginger is one of them. I have frequent migraines, and I keep ginger in my kitchen, purse, and my desk at work, to deal with the resulting nausea. It’s also known to be hugely helpful for expectant mothers dealing with morning sickness. I prefer to eat dried ginger (you can find it at almost any grocery store), ginger chews, or cook with fresh ginger. But it is also available in supplements and teas. Even my kids enjoy the chews and get one any time they complain of an upset stomach.
Echinacea is very well-known and is used for building up the immune system. If someone in your family is already sick, giving this to other household members may help prevent them from catching the bug. The root of the plant is especially powerful. It’s also good for relieving a sore throat.
Oregano is not only delicious, but it’s also a great herb to grow in your garden, as it is antimicrobial, meaning it fights fungal, viral, and bacterial germs. It’s also high in antioxidants.
Bee Balm/Bergamot is charming in the flower garden and is also a wonderful herb with many benefits. Like oregano, it is antimicrobial. It also soothes cough, skin irritations, and stomach cramping.
There are so many more valuable herbs that can play a role in your family’s health. Don’t be afraid to give nature a try! Afterall, it has sustained us for thousands of years.
As spring approaches, it’ll soon be time to get your herbs in the ground! Visit the medicinal garden at Old City Cemetery for inspiration as you plan and plant your own medicinal garden at home.
Please note: While the above herbs are generally considered safe, allergic reactions and drug interactions are always possible. It’s important to consult with your doctor and conduct your own research before adding an herbal regiment to your wellness routine.