Growing medicinal herbs is a fantastic idea but it’s not just about medicinal herbs, its about the food we eat too. As the great man Hippocrates once said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. This is why i would encourage everybody to grow as much of your own as you can, become as self sufficient as possible. At the very least you know what your eating and how your food has been grown! Food we grow and eat (before genetically modified and the use of chemical fertilsers) promotes optimal health. This is the basis behind Hippocrates knowledge, food that we eat should be preventative of disease. However the likes of fast foods and processed crap is ever more popular and what trend has this set? Ever wonder why so many people in the western world are ill, have allergies and are suffering from more and more diseases, even with the latest technological advancements in modern medicine? We need to take control of our own health, our keepers have had forever to fulfill this role and clearly it is not working.
There are many herbs and plants that can be grown with minimum effort and space and best of all it’s easy, anybody can do it. Yes that means you! Growing medicinal herbs on your windowsill is a great way to save money and empower you to take responsibility and care for your own health. I would go as far to say that growing your own medicine is like medicine in its self! The beauty of growing your own herbs is that you can harvest it as you use it, or dry your own herbs for later.
Here are some easy plants to get started with:
Aloe Vera has been well known for centuries for its healing properties, and both oral intake and topical dressings have been documented to facilitate healing of any kind of skin wound, burn, or scald – even speeding recovery time after surgery. Situations to try it on include blisters, insect bites, rashes, sores, herpes, urticaria, athlete’s foot, fungus, vaginal infections, conjunctivitis, styes, allergic reactions, and dry skin.
Borage is a great herb for calming the nerves due to stress or anxiety. It is especially useful for those who are recovering from illness or surgery as it boosts the adrenals. As well as its medicinal effects, the bright blue flowers of the Borage plant look beautiful and taste good in salads. Borage makes a perfect addition to herbal teas.
Calendula, or as commonly known Marigold, was traditionally used internally as a gargle for reducing inflammation of the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat, for soothing sore throats, laryngitis and tonsillitis, coughs, dryness of the lungs and digestive upsets.
Chamomile is a well known herb and has been used for thousands of years. It is useful for menstrual cramps, soothing and insomnia. Chamomile flowers are small and compact and are excellent for attracting bees. It is a very useful herb for children. It is a gentle herb for general use and an all round good tonic. It can help calm nerves, soothe headaches, stomach cramps, toothaches and teething pain.
Feverfew is good for calming coughs and reliving headache pains. The leaves of a Feverfew make a fine addition to a herbal tea.
Lavender is believed to be of benefit for a multitude of problems, including stress, anxiety, exhaustion, irritability, headaches, migraines, insomnia, depression, colds, digestion, flatulence, upset stomach, liver and gallbladder problems, nervousness, loss of appetite, and as a breath freshener and mouthwash. It is more tricky to grow in containers but the effort is well worth it! Adding fresh lavender to your herb tea blends is most rewarding and a sachet of home grown dried lavender under your pillow will ensure a good night sleep.
Lemon Balm is a great herb for the nerves. It is excellent for blending into your teas for the lemon flavour it adds. Lemon Balm is anti-viral, so the tea is great to drink if you’re feeling under the weather. The hot tea brings on a sweat that is good for relieving colds, flus and fevers and an anti-viral agent has been found that combats mumps, cold sores and other viruses. One of Lemon Balm’s key medicinal qualities is as a tranquilizer. It calms a nervous stomach, colic, or heart spasms. The leaves are reputed to also lower blood pressure. It is very gentle, although effective, so is often suggested for children and babies.
Mint (peppermint, spearmint, chocolate mint). These are great for stomach ailments and aid with digestion. Mint also helps with irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, is helpful for soothing colds and sore throats and can give you a quick boost. A nice cup of mint tea is a perfect way to end any meal. Mint is very easy to grow, it multiplies very quickly.
Skullcap is a mild analgesic and is helpful in reducing pain. It helps promote menstruation and is useful for insomnia. It is also a mild antidepressant. It is easy to grow in containers, though it needs a bit more space.
Feeling overwhelmed? Two words for you – baby steps! Pick your favourite and start there, or for a head start go to your local nursery, try to get organic seeds or plants whenever you can.
Plant some seeds and watch your herb garden bloom before your eyes. It’s easier than you think, anybody can do it! Soon your friends and family will be amazed and begging you for tea and you just may inspire others to grow their own as well.
The great thing about growing herbs is you can put many in a small space. Container gardening is useful when growing herbs as herbs tend to spread like crazy and this keeps it much easier to contain, harvest and best of all, no weeding!
Don’t be afraid to experiment blending herbs. You can come up with some great tea blends. From Chamomile and Lavender for a soothing tea before bed, to Feverfew and Skullcap for those painful migraines.
When you start your collection, familiarise yourself with each herbs medicinal use and how each herb can complement another. Before long you will develop your knowledge and become a Windowsill Apothecarist and on a path to becoming a wizard or witch, with your very own herbal pharmacy!