Did you know you can grow some of your own natural medicinal ingredients in your herb garden or even your flower garden for that matter? Most, if not all, common drugs have their roots – sometimes literally – in plant life, whether it is leaf, stem, flower, root or bark.
Growing and preparing your own herbal remedies is not a huge chore. You can add them to a meal, sprinkle them on a salad, infuse them by steeping in boiling water for teas. Create a decoction, by boiling them in water. Making a tincture is another form of decoction, only using alcohol, vinegar or pure ethanol, instead of water. They can be made into poultices and compresses for wounds, rashes, swelling or bruising.
Starting Your Medicine Cabinet:
There are many good books available on the subject of herbal remedies as it is important to remember that like drugs we are prescribed or can buy over the counter, there are side effects that must not be ignored. Also it is important to know how much and how often you should or should not ingest herbal remedies.
If you are going to grow your own medicinal herbs it is important to know how to grow them successfully, when to harvest them and how to preserve and store them. You can go to a health food store and buy herbs but some are sold under similar names and may not be the right one for your needs. However, how these are grown or stored will not be known to you. Growing your own under organic conditions, harvesting, preparing and storing them yourself would be ideal.
Following are some examples that you can start your ‘medicine cabinet’ with, along with the remedies they are reported to relieve discomfort, prevent or heal and a few cautions:
Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea or angustifolia):
Echinacea can be grown in most gardens across North American. The Native American Indians used the plant externally for wounds, burns and insect bites. The roots were chewed for toothache and throat infections. Internally it was used for pain, cough and stomach cramps. Today, at the first signs of a cold, or even if you have been exposed to others with a cold, many people take a few drops of Echinacea tincture mixed in water. The compounds in Echinacea stimulate the body’s immune system, which appears to lessen the chance of coming down with colds, flu or infections.
Purple coneflower makes our immune cells more efficient at attacking bacteria, viruses and abnormal cells, including cancer cells and stimulates new tissue growth for wound healing. It reduces inflammation in arthritis and inflammatory skin conditions.
Side effects can include gastrointestinal and allergic reactions, rashes, increased asthma and in some cases life-threatening anaphylazis.1
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis):
Goldenseal is a perennial herb of the buttercup family Ranunculaceae. American Indians used goldenseal for inflammatory conditions such as acid indigestion, gastritis, colitis, respiratory and urinary tract inflammation. It was also used to improve the appetite. Other natives used a decoction of the root for whooping cough, diarrhea, liver disease, fever and digestive problems.
Around the mid 1800’s it became more widely used as an appetite and digestive stimulant as well as an anti-inflammatory for treatments of the skin, eyes, throat.
Goldenseal can cause uterus contractions in pregnant women and should be avoided. Do not use goldenseal without first consulting your healthcare professional if you have or had heart disease, diabetes, glaucoma, stroke, or high blood pressure.
Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana):
The leaves of the Stevia plant have been used in South America by the Guarani people, mainly in Brazil and Paraguay, for over 1,500 years. It has up to 150 times the sweetness of sugar which makes Stevia a perfect sweetener for diabetic or pre-diabetic people due to the negligible effect on blood glucose. It is beginning to be added to some foods, like yogurt as it is a completely natural product.2
A Few More Ideas:
A cup of rosemary tea is said to be just as effective as an aspirin for a headache. An infusion of Anise seed makes a good tea to combat bloating, gas and indigestion, while ginger is good for settling an upset stomach. Dried cherries are said to be good for warding off gout attacks, while others believe celery seed to be better. For arthritis; eating pineapple or red peppers are recommended.3,4
Do some research and have fun with growing your healthy herb garden. It could take away your ailments and add years to your life, as will regular visits to your chiropractor to rid your body of subluxations and keep you active and flexible.