Growing your own herb garden is easy, fun, rewarding and beneficial. Most herbs require only 5 to 6 hours of sun a day, are not particularly fussy about the soil they grow in and are disease- and pest-resistant. The following are common plants for medicinal herb garden projects that can be grown indoors or outdoors.
Chamomile is a wonderful herb that treats many gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, cramping and excessive gas. People who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome could benefit from this plant. It also reduces stress, promotes sleep and treats migraines if taken as soon as you notice one coming on.
Chamomile has a refreshing apple-like scent and taste when fresh from the garden. To prepare a cup of tea, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tablespoon of fresh flowers (or 1 teaspoon of dried flowers), cover, steep for 10 minutes and strain. Honey and lemon go well with chamomile.
Chamomile is a hardy perennial plant that prefers a slightly acidic soil and full sun. In hot regions, it can grow year round in partial shade and, if allowed, often self-sow.
Garlic is a powerful herb packed with nutrients including antioxidants. Eating garlic is especially helpful to the cardiovascular and immune systems and can also benefit people with arthritis or asthma because of its anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, numerous studies have shown garlic to be an effective remedy in the prevention of many types of cancers.
Plant garlic bulblets in the fall, preferably in full sun to partial shade and in rich, well-drained soil. Harvest in the summer.
This tall grass with a fresh lemon scent has been used in Chinese medicine for many years to treat a number of problems. Citral, a substance in lemongrass, has been shown to cause malignant cancer cells to kill themselves (apoptosis) on a petri dish, without causing harm to normal cells. The amount of citral used in this research was equivalent to 1 cup of tea using 1 gram of lemongrass. Lemongrass can also calm nerves and help with poor digestion, flatulence, stomach aches and diarrhea. When applied topically, it can treat athlete’s foot, heal cuts and relieve arthritis pain.
To prepare a refreshing cup of lemongrass tea, rinse off a few blades of grass, cut them in inch-long pieces, pour 1 cup of boiling water over the pieces, cover, steep for at least 5 minutes and strain. You can add a little honey to sweeten the taste. For external use, you can either soak a cloth in the tea and apply to the affected area or you can add a strong cup of tea to a basin of water or bath water and soak the affected area.
Lemongrass is a perennial plant that prefers growing in warm regions, in well-drained soil and partial shade or full sun. Harvest during the summer.
Oregano is a member of the mint family and is a good source of vitamins A, C and K, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids. Drinking oregano tea can help in the treatment of coughs, mild fevers, indigestion, gas and menstrual cramps. It also has antibacterial properties and can be used externally to treat skin infections.
To make oregano tea, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 3 teaspoons of fresh leaves (or 1 teaspoon of dried leaves), cover, steep for 10 minutes and strain. The taste is slightly bitter so you may want to sweeten it with some honey.
This perennial prefers full sun or light shade and sandy soil. In warm climates, the leaves can be harvested year-round.
Continue on to page 2 for more common medicinal herbs you can plant in your garden.
This is the most popular culinary herb in the world. However, it was actually used for medicinal purposes before it was used to consume as food. Parsley is packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It can clear the body of toxins, boost the immune system and freshen bad breath.
Curly-leaf parsley and flat-leaf Italian parsley are biennials that prefer partial shade and well-drained soil. In cold regions, sow in spring. In warm areas, sow in fall. Harvest the outer stems and leaves as they grow and use fresh leaves or sprigs to season food or make a cup of parsley tea.
In Latin, sage (salvia) means “to heal”. It is a member of the mint family and has been used to treat many ailments for hundreds of years. It can help prevent night sweats, quiet nerves and treat digestive problems. According to one study, sage was shown to manage mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, it has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties and can be used to treat almost any type of infection.
To prepare a cup of tea, pour 1 cup of hot water over 10 large, fresh leaves (or 1 teaspoon of dried leaves), cover, steep for 10 minutes and strain. You can sweeten with honey. If preventing night sweats, drink the tea cold.
Sage is a hardy perennial that should be planted in your garden where there is full sun and dry, sandy soil.
There are many types of thyme but the two that are most commonly used for medicinal purposes are creeping thyme (T. serpyllum) and Spanish thyme (T. zygis). Thyme has antispasmodic and expectorant properties and is often used to treat respiratory problems, including hay fever, bronchitis and whooping cough. It is also used to treat excess gas, nausea, headaches and fever.
To prepare a cup of tea, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2 teaspoons of crushed leaves, cover, steep for 10 minutes and strain. Add a little honey to increase its benefits when treating coughs. Honey can soothe irritated mucous membranes.
Thyme is a hardy perennial that loves the sun and prefers well-drained soil.
Consult with a health care provider before using any of these common plants from your medicinal herb garden if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, giving to a child, taking medications or if you have a medical condition.
Planta Med. 71 (5): 484–8
J Clin Pharm Ther 28 (1): 53–9
Reader’s Digest 1001 Hints & Tips For Your Garden (1996)
Please read this disclaimer regarding the information contained within this article.