Self-reliance often means relying on old wisdom to address health problems. My family believes in the use of medicinal plants to cure ailments.
Our herb garden serves a greater purpose than increasing the flavors of our dinners. We use these plants to create medicinal teas, herbal baths and healing salves. Here are the top five medicinal plants to grow in your backyard, along with some simple ways to use them in your everyday life.
Once it blooms during spring, it continues to grow throughout the season. Feverfew has been used for centuries to — you guessed it — reduce fevers. It also has properties that help to reduce headaches and stomach illnesses.
Families can use feverfew in a variety of ways, but one of my favorite methods is as an herbal bath. That is a fantastic way to reduce fevers in small children. For centuries, people have chewed on the leaves or drank herbal teas to relieve headaches, as well as fevers. (Check with your doctor about its use among very young children.)
One of the most popular medicinal herbs is Echinacea, which produces a beautiful purple flower. Echinacea grows up to 36 inches tall and has a long growing season. You will notice an abundance of bees and butterflies attracted to your garden, as well, helping to pollinate.
Echinacea can be used to boost the immune system if you have the flu or cold. Historically, people used it to fight infections, relieve pain, treat snake bites, reduce coughs and heal sore throats.
While you can use Echinacea in a multitude of ways, most people opt to make an infusion or decoction. You can steep the leaves and petals or the dried roots in boiling water, creating an herbal tea. To fight a cold, you could combine other herbs, such as feverfew or chamomile, for additional healing properties.
3. Lemon balm
Everyone needs at least one type of mint plant in their garden. Lemon balm happens to be one of my favorites! You can add it to teas to create a delicious tea, but it does more than that. Those suffering from insomnia, anxiety, an upset stomach, or a viral infection can find lemon balm useful. Our family uses it as a natural mosquito repellant and treatment for colicky infants.
There are so many great ways to use lemon balm! Make an herbal syrup to reduce anxiety at night with honey. Using fresh leaves, make a homemade tea bag for an upset stomach. Another great way to use lemon balm is to add it in homemade salves, helping to heal minor cuts.
Yarrow is a multi-purpose herb to grow, and is beneficial if you have kids in the house. It can reduce fevers, shorten flu and colds, help kids to relax and lessen cramps. You also can use yarrow topically to help with skin itching and rashes. Some people have success relieving allergy symptoms by drinking yarrow tea!
There are a plethora of ways to use yarrow. Create herbal teas, combined with other herbs like lemon balm or chamomile. Tea also helps with a cold or congestion. A yarrow salve heals dry and itchy skin. Also, bathing in yarrow tea reduces fever. Native Americans used yarrow for centuries as an astringent by creating poultices.
While I grow a variety of herbs and flowers, calendula is, by far, one of the most useful flowers. The beautiful, orange flowers pop in the summertime against the green grass. Calendula petals are edible; try adding them to your salads.
For centuries, people found ways to use calendula to disinfect minor wounds, treat infections, heal skin irritation and reduce pain. One of my favorite ways to use it is by creating a homemade diaper cream for rashes. Making a healing salve from calendula is simple and makes a fantastic addition to your first-aid kit. All you need to do is spread it over irritations and small cuts.
Healing with herbs does require a bit of knowledge, but it is worth it.
Get started by selecting a few of the best medicinal plants. Best of all, many of these choices have pretty blossoms that make them visually appealing options.
What is your favorite medicinal plant? Share your thoughts in the section below: