Wouldn’t it be nice to have a beautiful, colorful garden which also happened to provide all the supplements you need for a healthy body and mind? Not everyone is a natural gardener, but there are a range of medicinal plants which also happen to be some of the easiest to grow, suited to a range of climates and soil conditions.
The following 10 plants all have scientifically verified medicinal properties, and can be easily utilized in home remedies. Some are best in a topical application, others are best utilized in a simple tea or as an aromatic – however you use them, they provide a wonderful range of health benefits the natural way.
1. Sage. Sage has a number of uses in both cooking and cosmetics, but according to WebMD, sage can also be used to treat a host of health issues. When taken as a concentrated extract, applied as a cream, or eaten, sage has been proven to treat digestive problems such as gas, stomach pain, diarrhea and bloating, as well as loss of appetite. It improves memory performance, has been definitively linked to improving the brain function in people with Alzheimer’s, and it combats menopause symptoms. It has even been proven to cure cold sores as fast as the common medicine Zovirax.
2. Aloe Vera. The gel from aloe vera is widely used topically to soothe sunburn, but Healthline explains that there are many more uses for this versatile plant. It relieves heartburn and can be used as a mouthwash to block plaque and relieve sore gums. It’s beautifully hydrating on the skin as a body and face moisturizer. Keep your aloe plant in a sunny spot and water regularly, allowing the top soil to dry out between drinks!
3. Thyme. Research suggests that thyme improves symptoms of bronchitis in people of all ages, according to WebMD. It is especially effective in treating a cough in the case of bronchitis, whooping cough, or common colds. It can be used to treat a range of gastrointestinal issues, worm infections, and skin disorders. Thyme oil is a proven germ-killer and so can be diluted into a mouthwash to combat bad breath, sore tonsils, or throat infections, and even bacterial and fungal infections in the ear.
4. Mint. According to Medical News Today, mint has one of the highest antioxidant capacities of any food, and it has a number of scientifically proven health benefits. Mint is effective in fighting cold and cough symptoms due to naturally occurring menthol, and it has been used for thousands of years to soothe an upset stomach and aid in digestion. Clinical trials have shown peppermint oil to reduce symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome by 50%. Studies have even shown peppermint water to be effective in preventing nipple cracks and pain in breastfeeding mothers,
5. Chamomile. Chamomile has anti-inflammatory properties which can help with a range of skin conditions and irritation when added to bathwater, according to WebMD. It is also found in a number of topical creams. Chamomile can easily be grown both indoors and outdoors, and the leaves are commonly brewed into a safe and simple tea which can help with relaxation and sleep.
6. Rosemary. This Mediterranean herb is hardy and easy to grow – it thrives in full sunlight. It tastes delicious in food and is a potent source of iron, calcium, and vitamin B6. According to Medical News Today, rosemary is also a rich source of antioxidants and into inflammatory compounds which aid with circulation, boost the immune system and neutralize free radicals.
7. Verbena. This flowering herb grows well in sunny and dry conditions, and has a lemon-like scent and flavor. According to WebMD it is used to treat respiratory issues, angina, and fluid retention, as well as a host of mental health issues like depression and anxiety. It can be gargled to combat cold symptoms and mouth soreness, and it can be applied directly to the skin to relieve itching. It can also be brewed into a pleasant-tasting tea to help with digestive issues. Verbena is commonly used by women to treat symptoms of menopause, irregular menstruation, and issues with breast milk flow.
8. Lavender. This beautiful, flowering herb is one of the best medicinal herbs out there. It soothes anxiety and headaches, treats hair loss, and cures mouth ulcers. People commonly use lavender essential oil, but did you know you can grow it yourself and use the dried flowers just as effectively? You can add them to your bathwater, place them inside your pillow for better sleep, and make this delicious lavender lemonade.
9. Ginger. Many people know about the use of fresh ginger to help digestion, cure nausea, and fight flu symptoms, but it is expensive to buy at the grocery store and doesn’t always last very long. The good news is that ginger is actually very easy to grow at home, and once you’ve got a good supply of it, you can use it to combat morning sickness, muscle soreness, arthritis, menstrual pain, and cholesterol, among many other things. Authority Nutrition gives a full list of the proven benefits of ginger.
10. Echinacea. The University of Maryland describes several studies which have shown echinacea to contain active substances which boost immune function, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and have hormonal, antiviral, and antioxidant effects. It is used to treat a range of infections (including ear, urinary tract, and yeast infections) as well as fungal issues like athlete’s foot. Preliminary studies have even suggested that echinacea may inhibit tumors in the colon.
Herbal medicine has been used for thousands of years, and it is important to be aware of the potency of some plants. If you have any existing health issues or are currently taking medication, you should consult your doctor before adding a significant amount of herbal medicine to your health regime, as some herbs can interfere with other medications. Once you get the all-clear, start planning how you can make your garden that bit more versatile by adding some of these wonderful plants. You’ll save money in the long run and get healthy the natural way.