Herbal Medicine

Excellent Reasons to Start an Herb Garden

Herbs Provide Flavor and Health Benefits

Culinary herbs like sage, rosemary, oregano and thyme are great to have at your doorstep for flavoring dishes; these same common culinary herbs all have medicinal properties and can be used as natural remedies.  Sage is high in anti-oxidants, has anti-inflammatory properties and can lower your cholesterol. Rosemary stimulates the immune system, improves digestion and increases circulation. Oregano and thyme both have strong anti-bacterial and antiseptic qualities, helping to fight cold and infection.

Save Money and Waste Less

How often have you bought a bunch of basil or cilantro for a recipe, used a small portion of it in the dish you made that evening, and threw out the rest a week later when you found it wilted or rotting in the fridge? Fresh herbs are expensive and often sold in quantities that are hard to use up before they go bad. When your herbs are growing in pots or in garden beds outside your doorstep it’s easy to snip off what you need, chop it up and throw it in the skillet.

Save Water

Perennial herbs are hardy and once established, often need less water than annual vegetables. Use drip irrigation, keep them well-mulched with straw, leaves, or woodchips to improve the soil’s water retention and decrease evaporation.

Grow Your Own Medicine

Some common plants have medicinal properties and can be used in teas, tinctures and oils as natural home remedies.  Raspberry leaves can be brewed into a tea that’s beneficial to women’s reproductive health and boosts the immune system through its high Vitamin C content and antibacterial properties. Calendula flowers can be steeped in olive oil to make a powerful remedy for soothing rashes and excema when applied externally.  Willow bark has anti-inflammatory properties and can be brewed in a tea to soothe headaches and treat joint pain.

Edible Flowers

Not only do they brighten up your dishes but can they can also add great flavor.  Spring is the perfect time to try these beautiful tasty flowers. Some of my favorite flowers are nasturtium, calendula, squash blossoms, marigolds, rose petals, hibiscus, pansies, as well as thyme and chive flowers. The flavors of edible flowers are all different, ranging from sweet to licorice-like to peppery to minty to lemony.  More than just a garnish, edible flowers can be enjoyed in soups, made into candied treats, added to vinegars or dressings, incorporated into beverages or tossed in a yummy spring salad.  Some of these tasty flowers are high in nutrition as well.  Roses are very high in vitamin C, marigolds and nasturtiums also contain vitamin C, dandelion blossoms contain vitamins A and C, and chive flowers contain important fatty acids along with vitamin E.

Things to take into consideration when choosing to eat edible flowers:

  • Be sure to positively identify a flower before eating it. Some flowers have look-alikes that are not edible and may even be poisonous.
  • Do not eat flowers if you have asthma, allergies, or hay fever. Eating flowers may exacerbate allergies.
  • Eat only the petals, and remove pistils and stamens before eating. Not all parts of the flower are edible.
  • Only eat flowers that have been grown organically so they have no pesticide residue.

Alterative Herbs

Alterative herbs gradually restore the body to proper and balanced function, increasing overall health and vitality. Burdock Root (Arctium lappa) is an alterative used for a variety of skin complaints including psoriasis, acne, eczema and simple dry skin. It can also aid digestion and is rich in vitamins and minerals including iron and magnesium. It can be taken as a tea or tincture or enjoyed in soups, stir fries or added to your favorite recipes. The flavor is wonderfully meaty and pairs well with other root vegetables and leafy greens.