Over the counter medicines are expensive, and with the recent bout of recalls, it is difficult to know if what you’re actually getting is safe. Because of this, many people are looking into traditional herbal remedies to treat minor ailments. Making some of these medicines may take a bit of practice, but people who use these remedies can save hundreds of dollars a year and know exactly what they are putting into their bodies.
If you are new to herb gardening, start by picking herbs that are easy to grow and care for. Good “starter” herbs are typically garlic, ginger, rosemary, parsley, sage, and mint. Plant each herb in a separate row or container, and use labels. When picking the herbs, never harvest more than half a plant at one time and be sure to pick leaves down near the stem of the plant. This allows the plant to close the hole faster, leading to less water loss. Herbs can be harvested multiple times over a season, but only if you do not overharvest. Try to wait at least three days before picking leaves again.
Garlic could lay claim to being the most universally accepted healing herb. The plant itself consists of a bulb with a cluster of several cloves, which lie below ground, and green shoots which appear above ground. Start by planting individual cloves in just about any slightly rich soil, in a partly to mostly sunny location. Fortunately, garlic requires very little space. It can even be grown amidst your flower garden if you are short on space in your vegetable patch.
Garlic is extremely aromatic and therapeutic and acts as an antibiotic and as an antifungal agent. It can be used to combat most internal and external infections in the body. Garlic can be eaten raw or added to any recipe and used to overcome the effects of cold and flu. Crushed garlic can be rubbed onto wounds, rashes, and sores to cleanse and heal them.
Ginger has long been used as a respected healing herb. Ginger consists of thick, knobby roots under the ground, and green shoots above the ground. The root is used in cooking and healing, either fresh, or dried and ground to powder. The main healing uses of ginger are as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. When the root is boiled and made into a tea, ginger soothes stomach ailments and relieves nausea. Many people use ginger to alleviate motion sickness. In fact, multiple scientific studies have been conducted showing that the root is more effective than over the counter medicines such as Dramamine, and using ginger does not have the drowsy side effects of most OTC motion sickness pills. Ginger can also stimulate the circulation of the blood, and help to combat the symptoms of a cold.
Rosemary and sage are frequently used to treat wounds and rashes. To use, steep a tablespoon of fresh, or a teaspoon of dried, herbs in a cup of hot water. After the liquid cools, pour it onto the effected area. This wash can also be used to treat scalp problems such as dandruff.
Marigold and comfrey are often used to treat infected wounds. Take the whole leaves or flower heads of these plants, and steep them in hot water. After the leaves have cooled enough to touch without being burned (but are still warm) place them directly onto the wound. A dressing can be bound over the leaves to keep the poultice in place.