I admit I am not too fond of modern medicine. While I think it has a place, I believe that nature is amazing. There are so many undiscovered plants that have the potential to possess many medicinal properties. There are also common medicinal plants that have been used since the beginning of time. These plethora of herbs have been talked about so much that I think people forget the power they possess. Or maybe the advancements in modern medicine have led us to believe that we don’t need herbal and natural medicine anymore. We should pay more attention to natural, holistic medicine. More research and conversations with people from indigenous cultures worldwide who have been practicing herbal medicine and passing the information down for generations need to happen. For thousands of years, many different civilizations cultivated these plants. With this article, we will discuss some plants to add to your gardening space to create your medicinal garden.
Growing Common Medicinal Plants
If you wanted to get started with herbal medicine, or growing common medicinal plants, it is not difficult. You probably have some of these plants already growing in your garden. You would be surprised by some of the medicinal properties of the common herbs that most gardeners have. Here is a list of some of my favorite medicinal plants to grow in any garden. Hopefully, this information gets you interested in growing your medicinal garden or even just adding a few of these plants to your garden. Before you begin your garden, know that some of these plants can spread quickly throughout the planting area. Also, before planting, make sure you look at all of the medicinal benefits of the plants. Do not plant them if you do not plan on using them. Many of my readers garden in an urban area with limited space, all of these varieties can be successfully grown in containers. While having all of these plants is unnecessary, I can’t see a garden space without a few of them.
Common Medicinal Plants and their Benefits
Calendula is grown for its bright flowers and has been since the beginning of time. Throughout history, these flowers colored food and cosmetics and used for tea. The buds are resinous and possess medicinal properties.
- Oral Health. Gargling with calendula infused water can help reduce sore throat issues. Imagine the benefits of drinking a tea made from the flowers next time you have a sore throat? Also, it’s said that ingesting calendula tea can help stop gingivitis.
- Infused calendula oil contains antibacterial, antifungal, antibiotic, and antiseptic
- Digestive aid. Tea made from the flowers is good for digestion.
- Cancer-fighting. Calendula flowers are antioxidant-rich. Some of these antioxidants are said to have anti-cancerous and anti-tumor properties.
- Skin. Known for its healing properties, calendula is great for infusing oils to make salves, diaper rash crème, and other lotions.
Chamomile is grown for its flowers. A long time ago, people referred to chamomille as the herb that was capable of curing anything. Nowadays, both the German and Roman varieties are grown. An interesting fact is the two types are botanically unrelated.
- As a digestive aid, chamomille oil relaxes the muscle lining of the digestive tract and stomach muscles.
- It is believed that consuming chamomille oil may prevent stomach ulcers.
- Are you looking for relief from menstrual cramp? Chamomile contains antispasmodics, which are known to relax the uterus and soothe menstrual cramps.
- Chamomile tea has a long history being of being used to aid in destressing and even to treat insomnia
- For the skin, chamomile oil has been shown to reduce the healing time of burns, cuts, and scrapes.
- By stimulating the immune system’s production of white blood cells, chamomile is known for boosting your immune system’s health.
Comfrey is a hairy leaf member of the borage family. Careful where you place it in your garden. Some people report that rubbing the leaves causes their skin to itch. I have not experienced this. Like other herbs on this list, this too has been used for centuries. For this plant, the roots and leaves contain the magic.
- Centuries ago, the leaves were applied to bruises, broken bones, cuts, and other minor wounds. Now comfrey is used to infuse oils and used in other skin products and used to treat the same kind of ailments
- Applying a cream, gel, or salve infused with comfrey oil has been shown to decrease joint pain and lower back pain.
- Use comfrey externally. There is debate on whether ingesting comfrey tea is safe. Centuries ago, people believed consuming comfrey tea would treat stomach issues, ulcers, bronchitis, and more. Since then, scientists discovered comfrey contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, compounds that can cause severe liver damage.
- Use comfrey leaves to create a nutrient-rich liquid fertilizer for your garden.
Garlic is a member of the allium family. Historical records show people have used garlic since the beginning of time. Most people don’t even think about garlic as a medicinal plant. They think about it solely as a culinary plant. But remember, back in the day, people used medicinal plants in cooking to absorb as much of the healing powers as possible. Little did they know that cooking garlic destroys many of garlic’s healing properties. So consuming raw is the preferred method.
- Garlic contains antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.When taken internally, garlic helps fight common colds and cases of flu.
- Garlic can help prevent heart disease
- Strengthen the immune system
- Reduce high blood pressure
Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean region. A member of the mint family, it is a hardy perennial. It does well when grown in containers or beds. With a distinct aroma from their oily leaves, rosemary is one of the most well-known scents. The ancient Greeks believed it improved their memories and spirits and used it as a symbol of love.
- The leaves are the coveted parts
- As a digestive aid, rosemary soothes the muscles in the stomach as well as the uterus.
- Use rosemary for its decongestant properties. You can unlock these properties by infusing the oil with sprigs from your garden or adding essential oils to your favorite carrier oil. Apply the infused oil to the chest, under the nose, and neck area next time you feel congested
- Rosemary can be used as a preservative. Centuries ago, people found out wrapping meat with rosemary would help prolong the amount of time meat went rancid. Keep this in mind during your next cookout. A little more rosemary in your hamburger mix?
- Rosemary contains Antiviral, Antibacterial, and antifungal properties.
- Rosemary is rich in antioxidants
- For topical applications, use rosemary essential or infused oils to aid with muscle or joint pain.
Oregano is also a member of the mint family. Oregano, which is grown for its stems and leaves, is an herb that can take over your garden area. With many different types and flavor profiles, there is oregano for everyone.
- Oregano contains two oils that possess similar properties as over-the-counter expectorants. A tea made from the leaves loosens phlegm from chest congestion. Also, it is good for sore throats, coughing, bronchial problems, headaches, and swollen glands
- As a digestive aid, oregano soothes the muscles in the stomach aiding in indigestion and bloating
- Oregano also contents high levels of varying antioxidants.
- Next time you have a cold, before reaching for the day quill, try consuming oregano tea rich in antibacterial properties.
Lavender is a member of the mint family. Used since the days of ancient Egypt, people believed lavender purified the mind and body. Lavender prefers being grown in well-drained soils. There are two primary varieties of lavender; English and Spanish.
- The most consumed essential oil is Lavender oil. Do you ever wonder why most massage therapists have some in the room? Often dispersed into the air by a diffuser, the lavender’s scent is said to ease muscle spasms.
- Harvest lavender flowers and foliage and add to your nighttime tea recipe. This combination helps create a destressing and calming sleep aid.
- Lavender is said to have Antibacterial properties and be a mild antiseptic. A tea made from the flowers is said to help aid with a soar throat.
Lemon Balm is also a member of the mint family. A favorite of honeybees and other pollinators, there is evidence that shows people have used lemon balm for over 2000 years. The greeks and Romans used it to flavor foods and wines. This plant was introduced to America by European colonists who brought it over as a medicinal plant. This mounding plant can reach 1-3 feet tall and just as wide.
- Applying lemon balm essential oil to temples or neck has been shown to relieve stress and anxiety.
- Merely brushing up against the leaves will release a calming aroma.
- When added with other ingredients, it can help create an insect repellant spray.
- Lemon balm is a digestive aid. Steep fresh or dried leaves by themselves or combined with mint and chamomille for a stomach-soothing beverage.
Mint is a must for any garden. With hundreds of varieties to choose from, there is a mint out there for everyone. After eating, people used to chew mint stems to help soothe their stomach after a large meal. Mints are divided into two categories, peppermint, and spearmint. Both share the same medicinal properties, but spearmint has a more potent taste. Ancient Egyptians used mint to soothe their stomachs.
- Chewing mint leaves can help relieve toothaches due to the menthol content.
- The leaves and stems contain high amounts of menthol.
- Mint contains a high mineral content of potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.
- Mint is rich in antioxidants, Vitamin A, C, b-6, riboflavin, and thiamin.
- Mint is aromatic , diuretic, antiseptic,antspasmodic,antiparasitic, antibacterial.
- Tea can help treat nausea, headaches, indigestion, colds, cases of flu, flatulence, or insomnia.
Thyme is also a member of the mint family and one of my favorite herbs to grow. Like other herbs on this list, thyme has been used medicinally and in culinary preparations for ages. This low growing ground cover grown for its leaves and flowers is known for its showy purple and blue flowers. Thyme should have a home in every garden. When growing thyme in your garden, make sure overgrowing plants do not cover the plant. I have lost many thyme plants this way. After a few years in the garden or a harsh summer, thyme will become woody and may need replacing. Replace the plants by propagating from cuttings or root division. In French cuisine, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf are combined in soups, stews, and other dishes.
- Thyme is an expectorant. The oil in the leaves helps clear coughs and remove mucus. Drop a few sprigs of dry thyme in hot water, steep, and enjoy.
- The essential oils in thyme contain antiviral and antifungal properties. Therefore, consuming thyme helps to fights infections and suppress colds
- Use thyme as a digestive aid. Like other members of the mint family, thyme helps soothe the stomach lining.
- Whether you know it or not, thyme is already present in your medicine cabinet. Thyme contains the oil Thymol which is the main ingredient in Listerine mouthwash and decongestants.
- Thyme is a digestive aid. Thymol and Carvacrol, active oils found in thyme, have been shown to calm and soothe the stomach lining.
St. Johns Wort is a member of the hypericum family. This plant has been cultivated for over 2000 years. Originally used as a way to ward off demons and evil spirits, St. Johns wart was seen as a symbol of protection. When pinched, the leaves and flowers produce a blood-red oil. Early Christians named this plant after St. John for folklore reasons. The highly sought-after yellow flowers bloom in late July.
- Ancient herbalists discovered St. Johns wart is an antidepressant. Its mood-altering properties are as effective as prescribed antidepressants without all the side effects.
- St. Johns wort contains antibacterial properties.
- When applied topically, St. Johns wort can help relieve muscle aches and pains. Also, an infused oil made from the flowers helps speed up the healing of wounds, burns, and insect bites.
- St Johns wort contains antiviral properties. These properties have been shown to have to be highly active against herpes and HIV.
Sage is a member of the mint family. Ancient Greeks and Romans used sage as a preservative for meat. While it was coveted for its culinary reasons, sage would soon become known for its medicinal properties. The common name for sage is salvia, which in Latin means “to heal.” It is no wonder Greeks, Romans, and later the Arabs believed it helped people become immortal by extending their lives. The healing properties of sage caused the plant to be highly coveted and grown almost everywhere. Even in Iceland! In every region where sage grew, locals had a different medicinal use for the herb. Grow sage for its aromatic leaves as well as the blueish flowers.
- Sage contains estrogenic properties which aid in reducing sweating and perspiration
- Sage contains antiviral and antiinfection properties.
- Sage is rich in antioxidants. Some of these antioxidants contain similar preservative properties as commercial preservatives.
- Like most members of the mint family, Sage is a digestive aid.
- The antibacterial properties help to treat infections within the intestinal tracts
- Drinking sage tea has been shown to regulate blood sugar levels in diabetic patients
- Sage can help shorten and alleviate symptoms associated with a soar throat. Sage contains tannins. When ingested, these tannins aid in healing
- Consuming sage tea has been shown to aid in discomfort associated with menstrual cramps.
Ginger is a member of the Zingiberaceae family. Grown for its highly aromatic and fleshy root, Ginger has been cultivated since the beginning of time. Many different cultures all rave about the medicinal uses. Greeks and Romans imported Ginger from the east as a cure for internal parasites. A sun-loving perennial, when grown in tropical regions, ginger does not produce any seeds. The highly coveted ginger root is used to grow more ginger plants. Keep that in mind, whenever you grow and harvest your own.
- Ginger contains antiseptic properties and can be taken to help fight off infections
- Ginger contains anti-nausea properties. These properties are best known for treating motion and morning sickness.
- Ginger contains compounds that make it an anti-inflammatory.
- Ginger helps reduce cholesterol levels. Reducing these levels helps improve heart health, helping to prevent heart disease.
- As a digestive aid, Ginger helps to soothe the gastrointestinal tract.
- Ginger helps strengthen your immune system.
- Ginger possesses antiviral properties. When taken, it can help stop and cure viruses that cause the common cold and the flu.
Turmeric is a member of the ginger family that is grown for its deep yellow colored root. Every year it never fails. I am growing this plant in my garden. Native to southern Asia, turmeric is one of the plants you hear about throughout history across many different cultures to be more valuable than gold or even have many benefits. The main staple in curry dishes and India for thousands of years, turmeric is being discovered by Americans. In Indian and Chinese cultures, turmeric is known as a whole body cleanser due to its health benefits.
- Turmeric contains curcumin, which is known for reducing inflammation throughout the body. Therefore turmeric has had a positive effect in reducing the pain in patients with arthritis.
- Turmeric has been shown to have anti-parasitic properties.
- Curcumin is linked to anti-cancer properties. Lab studies have shown curcumin can inhibit the growth of lymphoma and other tumor cells.
- Consuming turmeric reduces cholesterol levels.
- The oils and active compounds in turmeric have been shown to protect liver health.
- As a digestive aid, turmeric stimulates and soothes the stomach muscles and helps digest fats.
Echinacea is a member of the Aster family. Native exclusively to North America, Echinacea was used by native indigenous Americans. Believed to “heal all,” this plant was used for everything from wound care to soothe sore throats and toothaches. The beautiful flowers are a favorite of pollinators. For the healing properties, you can use the entire plant; roots, flowers, and leaves.
- Echinacea contains antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties.
- The roots of the plants contain a natural antibiotic called echinacoside.
- Echinacean strengthens the immune system. By boosting the immune system’s strength, echinacea increases T cells’ production. These cells are responsible for fighting infections. Therefore ingesting echinacea can lead to shorter infection time if you do catch a cold.
- Echinacein, a chemical found in the roots, encourages skin cells to produce new tissue and heal wounds faster.
- Echinacea contains anti-cancer properties.
Which of these common medicinal plants have you planted and used for relief? Share with us in the comments below!