By Margaret Bligdon-Boyt
Editor in Chief
When we troupe around the garden centres picking out pretty flowers to put in the borders, we often pass by some truly amazing plants. Medicinal plants can be grown in pots on the window sill or in a herb garden outside. Not only do they look and smell good, but they are also naturally good for whatever it is that ails you. Part of the fun is researching what you need – there are many medicinal plants to choose from, but here are the 4 medicinal garden plants that I, personally, could not do without.
1. Aloe Vera
This is by far my ‘can’t do without’ plant. There are aloe vera plants in almost every room in my home. It is my go-to plant for any skin irritations or minor cuts and bruises. It is also the only thing that alleviates the symptoms of my son’s eczema.
It’s really simple to use aloe vera – just break a piece of the leaf off and rub the fleshy inside of the leaf onto the skin.
Uses: dry skin, eczema, sunburn, mild burns, rashes, cold sores.
Sage has astringent, antiseptic and antibacterial qualities and no self respecting medicine garden should be without it.
I use sage and lavender, dried and bundled up with twine to make smudging sticks. I burn the smudging sticks to rid my home of all the bad mojo, especially after a bout of illness or if someone has a cold. The anti bacterial properties get rid of air borne germs.
Uses: digestive problems, loss of appetite, flatulence, stomach pain (gastritis), diarrhoea, bloating and heartburn, sore throats, mouth ulcers, gum disease, laryngitis and coughs.
3. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is a member of the mint family so it will grow prolifically.
Lemon balm made into a tea is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. I find it to be a very soothing tea that I drink a lot of on days when I need a ‘pick me up’.
Uses: improves mood, concentration and sleep; may aid in regulating thyroid, liver and heart conditions.
Ginger Contains gingerol – a substance with powerful medicinal properties. The anti-inflammatory effects can help with osteoarthritis and even muscle soreness after exercise.
I find ginger tea to be a bit strong, so I just use it in cooking.
Uses: helps digestion, reduces nausea and helps to fight the flu and common cold, arthritis.
These 4 medicine garden plants are my essentials. If you are a bit sceptical about using plants and herbs as medicine, just remember that many of the mainstream drugs that we all take are made from chemicals extracted from plants. Uses of the plants that you grow can be researched in any number of places online, along with any relevant scientific studies.