Did you know that your garden can also serve as your medicine cabinet?
We’re not suggesting you throw out all of your aspirin and bandaids. But it’s good to know what healing plants you can grow in your garden – and which plants with healing or medicinal properties may already be there.
Just like any prescription drugs, plants have the potential to cause adverse effects. So always consult with your doctor before taking any medication, including natural or herbal remedies.
Aloe Vera Plant
Bad sunburn? Before turning to the drugstore, check your garden. Aloe vera plants secrete a clear gel that has been used for centuries to treat and soothe sunburns, cuts, and skin infections; aloe has also been used for hair loss and to treat hemorrhoids. It may even have properties that help reduce skin inflammation. For burn relief, aloe gel is applied topically to the skin, although dried latex from the inner lining of the aloe plant has also been taken orally as a laxative.
Witch hazel is a small, deciduous tree whose stems can be boiled to produce a decoction. The resulting formula can be applied topically to minor skin lesions, bruises, sprains, or for inflammation of the skin and mucous membranes, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins. Witch hazel leaves can be plucked and brewed into a tea at home.
You can grow one of the most ancient medicinal herbs known to mankind right in your garden. Preparations of the dried flowers of the chamomile plant are used for everything from hay fever to inflammation, muscle spasms, menstrual disorders, insomnia, ulcers, wounds, gastrointestinal disorders, rheumatic pain, and hemorrhoids. The essential oils of chamomile can be used in aromatherapy for symptomatic relief on respiratory tract irritation due to the common cold. Step chamomile flowers in hot water for 10-15 minutes to make a tea.
Guaco is a climbing plant known for its therapeutic properties as a bronchodilator, antiallergic, and antiasthmatic. Additional therapeutic properties include being antihemorrhagic, antiophidian, antiviral, and antimicrobial. These properties, and the fact that guaco is an expectorant, are the reason that guaco is often used for treating colds and respiratory infections. Prepare a tea using the guaco leaves.
Asian ginseng is a species of plants whose root is used for its medicinal properties. Common in Chinese medicine, Asian ginseng is a prophylactic and restorative agent, used for enhancing mental and physical capacities that may occur in cases of weakness, exhaustion, tiredness, loss of concentration, and during the course of old age. Asian ginseng root can be ground into a powder to take or mix into a hot drink.
Passionflower has been used for centuries by native peoples of the Americas as a mild sedative. Today, it continues to be used as a mild sedative for nervous restlessness, insomnia and anxiety. Passionflower is also used for pain, heart rhythm problems, menopausal symptoms, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and to treat burns and hemorrhoids. Passionflower is also used in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders of nervous origins. Dried passionflowers can be made into a tea.
Boldo-do-Chile, more commonly known as boldo, is a tree whose leaves are used in the treatment of functional dyspepsia (indigestion) and other gastrointestinal disorders; it is a cholagogue (it promotes the discharge of bile) and a choleretic (increases the amount of bile secreted from the liver). Its leaves can be made into a tea for easy consumption.
The roots of the valerian plant, a perennial flowering plant that bears white and pink flowers, serve as a mild sedative and sleep promoting agent. The roots are often used as a “milder alternative or a possible substitute for stronger synthetic sedatives in treatment of nervous excitation and anxiety-induced sleep disturbances.” For tea, soak 2 to 3 grams of dried valerian root in 1 cup of water for 10 to 15 minutes.
What healing plants do you grow in your garden?