Beginner's Guide to a Medicinal Herb Garden
As you go on your holistic journey, you'll find that a lot of remedies come from different herbs. Most of these herbs you can grow yourself or get at the grocery store. For my personal natural health, I keep a garden with most of the herbs that I can grow and sustain. Not only is having herbs good for you but it's good for the Earth too. So let's talk medicinal herb gardens!
Benefits of Having a Garden
I know you're asking yourself, "Why do I have to put in work to get healthy?" or "Why should I keep a garden anyhow? I can just buy the herbs." Yes, yes, I know all this. But there are actually a lot of benefits to keeping a garden that can strengthen your pillars.
Growing Your Self-Esteem: Growing plants can be difficult to grow and keeping them alive can be a hassle. However, when you do it all right and you watch your garden flourish, you feel so great!
Healthy for the Heart: While you garden, you're burning calories and strengthening her heart.
Reduces Stress: Gardening for at least 30 minutes a day can reduce your stress.
Serotonin For You Daily: According to studies, healthy bacteria live in soil that increases your serotonin levels while decreasing anxiety.
Much Better Sleep: According to a research study, gardening can be tied to a good night sleep.
Hand Strength: Using your hands during high levels of gardening activity will strengthen your hand muscles.
Good for Financial Health: Growing your own vegetables, fruits, herbs, etc. will shorten your grocery list and lower that grocery bill as well.
Great for the Environment: Especially if you grow sunflowers (which can take in radiation), you'll be helping the environment. Even having a small garden will give the Earth the loving help that she deserves. Growing an orchard? Yay more oxygen! Just a fruit garden? Fresh seasonal fruits! Herb garden? Well, you have things to cook with and things to help you heal!
Herbs to Consider for Your Medicinal Herb Garden
Because I am Wiccan, such an avid gardener and a big holistic health advocate, I'm gonna tell you all about some really awesome herbs that'll look beautiful in your garden AND take care of your body. I'm going to tell you how each can help you and a few tips to keep them alive.
Used For: Inflammation, swelling, anxiety, and relaxation
May Cause: Drowsiness (I recommend this for sleep)
Usage Forms: Tea and compressed
Chamomile can interfere with how your body is affected by other medicines and other herbal supplements. Talk with your healthcare provider before using this as a remedy.
This flower thrives in cool areas so try to plant it partly in the shade. But it will also grow in full sun. Don't fuss over it and keep the soil dry. Plant it in the spring so it can flourish. Chamomile is a drought-tolerant plant that only needs to be watered during prolonged droughts. Its strong scent keeps pest away so if you have a vegetable garden, plant chamomile as a companion plant. Keep in mind, however, that it will be weakened if lacking water.
Used For: Treating and preventing colds, flu, & infections, and healing wounds
May Cause: Allergic reactions for those allergic to daisies
Usage Forms: Tea, liquid tincture, tablets, ointments, capsules, and extracts
Echinacea is a part of the daisy family that grows mostly at the edge of woodland areas so it thrives with morning shade and afternoon sun or vice versa. Plant your echinacea in rocky soil and avoid it getting too damp or murky. While you need to water them regularly when they're young to establish roots, this flower is a low-water plant. Once it's established, you only need to water it when it's experiencing a drought.
Used For: Treating fevers, migraines, and arthritis
May Cause: Mouth ulcers, digestive irritation
Usage Forms: Straight eating (it's bitter), apply leaves to gums, tablet/supplement form
Please do not mix with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines as it may change how the Feverfew works.
You can start these seeds indoors during the late wintertime so they have up to two weeks to germinate. Then plant them in a slightly acidic, well-drained, sandy or loamy soil right where the sun can fully shine on it. Keep those roots moist throughout the year and apply a light balanced fertilizer each spring. This should keep your feverfew thriving and growing. However, this is a bee-repelling plant so do not plant this near plants that rely on bee pollination.
Used For: Lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, and possibly preventing cancer (studies are in progress)
May Cause: Clots (when used with warfarin)
Usage Forms: Oils, cooked, raw
I absolutely love garlic! Not only is it super versatile, but it's also very easy to grow. You can plant them in the spring or fall in a spot where you haven't recently planted garlic or a plant in the onion family. It's crucial that it's in a spot where water doesn't collect around the roots. Most garlic will naturally begin to germinate if not used for a while, which attests to how easy it is to grow. Plant the clove individually and you are on your way. Personally, I recommend roasting the entire bulb until it's soft and the cloves are golden brown then eating it just like that. Maybe with a little salt and pepper too.
Used For: Nausea, motion sickness, chemotherapy, and pregnancy side effects
May Cause: Bloating, gas, heartburn, and nausea
Usage Forms: Powdered, raw, candied, vitamins, tea
Just like garlic, ginger is not all that hard to grow. It seems intimidating but it's really not. The whole ginger plant is edible. In fact, in Malaysia, they use the flowers in stocks and curries for flavors. Ginger plants like sheltered spots with filtered sun, humidity, warm weather, and soil that is rich and moist (it is a tropical plant after all). The soil should never be dry but don't overwater, just make sure you water it a few times a day. Ginger doesn't need a whole lot of space either! If you'd like more details, then, by all means, look to this expert here.
Used For: Tonics and aphrodisiacs (considered a cure-all)
May Cause: High blood pressure and tachycardia
Usage Forms: Tea, vitamins, supplements
Do NOT use with warfarin, heparin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, estrogens, corticosteroids, or digoxin!
Ginseng is a largely sought after root and is often grown to sell for profit. Growing it can be a little bit tricky and I will be making a post dedicated to how to grow it and keep it up since it's a lengthy process but here are a few essentials you should know:
Plant in an area 80-90% shaded near hardwood trees
Avoid planting near other plants. Ginseng needs to not have competition during growth
Cool grounds facing the east or north is best
Avoid clay-heavy areas
Plant during the fall or early winter (ideally after rain or snow)
Space seeds 14-18in apart
Lots and lots of patience (they can take up to 10 years to grow)
Even in a pot, have a wild-simulated method to your guide
Used For: Treat liver conditions & high cholesterol and reduce cancer cell growth
May Cause: Diarrhea
Usage Form: Oral supplements and tea
Milk Thistle is a very dynamic plant that can grow in many different environments. However, it prefers high temperatures and dry conditions. The only hard requirement for growing milk thistle is a well-draining soil. Plant your seeds in the fall or spring but let them germinate for about two weeks before planting them around 12-15in apart (they grow in clusters). It's a drought-tolerant plant so you won't have to water it often unless it's experiencing extreme drought. Milk Thistle is very easy to grow and the only thing you need to worry about are the seeds over maturing and the plant taking over. To prevent this, simply harvest the seeds before then.
Saint John's Wort
Used For: Antidepressant
May Cause: Light sensitivity. May be dangerous with other medicine. Talk with your healthcare provider before using it.
Usage Form: Supplements, tea, oil (20 drops, 3 times a day)
You should grow Saint John's Wort in full sun or partial shade in moist, well-drained soil of any kind provided that it's not salty or very alkaline. Space the plants 24-36in apart and keep that soil moist, not sodden. Prune the plant in the early spring before the berries ripen to prevent seeds from forming. Be sure to disinfect your gardening shears before and after pruning your plant. Pruning Saint John's Wort after early spring, however, will prevent the plant from flowering next year. Be cautious where you plant it as the leaves release an unpleasant odor when it's bruised or brushed.
Used For: Sleeplessness and reducing anxiety
May Cause: Headache, stomach upset, mental dullness, excitability, uneasiness, heart disturbances (this is all in extreme cases)
Usage Form: Oil (taken orally)
Valerian is a super sturdy plant and very frost-tolerant. In the winter, the flowers will die down into the ground then reemerge in the springtime while the root remains healthy and intact. You can plant in a partially shaded or full sun area in any average, well-drained soil. Be sure to space them at least 3 feet apart. If you're adding this to a garden then I recommend planting it near Dill, Echinacea, Catnip, and/or Agastache. Valerian can stand up to 5 feet tall. Start your seeds indoors to germinate for about two weeks then you are good to go!
Now, keep in mind that there are thousands of plants and herbs that you can use for your medicinal herb garden. These are only a few common ones that you'll find in holistic gardens. I will gladly add another article about this to give you guys more ideas and tips for your holistic journeys.
Beginner's Guide to a Medicinal Herb Garden was researched, written, and edited by Emmalie Roberts. For more about the holistic approach, check out our homepage.