Growing your own Medicine Cabinet
Using plants as medicines
For centuries many of the common plants we use today in our borders and hanging baskets have been grown for medicinal purposes. You can literally grow your own medicine cabinet, although it’s always sensible to check that things grown in the garden are safe.
The has been a huge increase in demand for popular herbal remedies recently, which given current circumstances is hardly surprising. Used medicinally by Native American tribes for centuries, Echinacea is said to boost the immune system and reduce symptoms of viral infections. A native American plant, Echinacea Purpurea’s large daisy flowers are useful in the August garden, when there tends to be a bit of a lull, and stands up into the autumn when it contrasts well with wispy grasses in a prairie- style garden. Although all parts of the coneflower are edible, it’s the leaves and seed heads that can be harvested for a herbal tea by drying out in an airing cupboard for a week.
Long recognised for its sweet perfume, Lavender boasts medical benefits as a mild antidepressant. You can harvest the stems any time of year; try adding a few sprigs to your bath to alleviate stress, tension, and insomnia. Lavender is a very easy plant to grow in a hot, sunny, dry garden, with elegant flowers that can also be used in cooking.
Mint is a very easy plant to grow, packing a powerfully refreshing zing when used as a tea to relieve digestive discomforts. However, be careful where you plant it, all mints spread rampantly, so consider growing each plant in its own large pot.
Rosemary is the great reviver. This perennial, woody herb stimulates energy and optimism and sharpens memory and concentration by bringing more oxygen to your brain, according to experts on the subject. Try Rosemary tea as a stimulating alternative to a cup of coffee, when you need that second wind.
Thyme is another easy to grow little gem, lurking in many gardens. A row of these long-lived and drought-tolerant plants make beautiful, bee-friendly, evergreen ground cover. Herbalists rely on the antibacterial and antiseptic properties of Thyme’s oils to help prevent colds and ‘flu. Simply go out and pick a few sprigs when you need it and enjoy the health properties that a garden can contain.