Fiona is a qualified naturopath, herbalist, and aromatherapist with thirty years of experience which she wants to share.
Herbs for Health: Pretty and Practical
I have always been a firm believer in alternative medicine and have, for years, been growing my herbs to check out their healing properties. I love growing herbs—they're pretty, practical, and usually relatively easy to grow.
You Don't Need Much Space for Growing Herbs
You can choose to have a formal herb garden or dot the herbs you like around the garden. Don't have a garden? Many herbs do very well on a sunny patio or kitchen windowsill. They'll grow almost anywhere.
Wherever you put your herbs, remember to pick them often - this encourages new growth. Therefore, it is best to keep them near the kitchen door, within easy reach for cooking and natural healing.
If you pick too much of a herb, you can always dry it out for use later.
Sunny Nasturtiums Are Natural Antibiotics
Nasturtiums are one of my favorite herbs. These cheerful, little annuals originated in South America. They are aggressive and easy to grow - in fact, given the right conditions, they take over. They do not do well in rich soil, so they can grow just about anywhere.
Nasturtiums have bright little flowers that look great in informal arrangements. The leaves and flowers are edible and make a great addition to salads. The leaves have a peppery flavor and can stand in for rocket in a salad.
Medicinally, nasturtiums have a high quantity of Vitamin C and are naturally antibiotic. Take a leaf an hour at the onset of colds and flu to reduce their severity. (On a lighter note, my brother believes that nasturtiums caused his chickenpox - when he was a little boy, my mom made him eat a nasturtium leaf when he was sick, and the next day, chickenpox broke out.)
Nasturtiums have also been used for blood and kidney complaints over the last few centuries. Today, however, we recommend avoiding the plant if you have renal disease.
Give these cheerful little fellows a sunny spot in your garden, and they'll reward you for months.
Want to learn more about Nasturtiums? Check out this article:
- The Various Health Benefits and Uses of Nasturtiums
Nasturtiums make a great addition to any garden. The bright and sunny flowers are great for salads and the leaves are a natural antibiotic. It's win win all around.
Quick Poll on Natural Herbal Remedies
Lavender Is One of the Best Herbs for Health
Lavender is one of the most valuable herbs around. Again, an easy and hardy herb, lavender is a perennial favorite. There are many different varieties, so use traditional lavender if you take it internally.
Lavender is a beautiful plant in your garden - it has a pretty leaf and can form a large bush. The different varieties mean you can have lavender with other colored flowers and even different leaves. It makes a great border plant and also a windbreak. Lavender loves a sunny spot and, once established, needs only to be clipped to maintain it.
Lavender makes an excellent cut or dried flower. Use the dried flowers and leaves in potpourri or to scent a closet. They will also help to keep fishmoths at bay.
Medicinally, lavender is nature's multitool. Therefore, it is a natural antiseptic.
Lavender tea is very soothing and can be used to mitigate stress, depression, and anxiety. It also has excellent anti-bacterial properties and can reduce the severity of symptoms if taken at the first sign of flu. In addition, it can help to bring down a fever. Note, though, that if it is a high fever, check with your doctor.
Lavender tea can also be a great addition to your bathwater and delicately scent the water and relax your body. It also helps with skin complaints and can help soothe reddened or heated skin.
Lavender essential oil is one oil no medicine cabinet can be without. As with all essential oils, you cannot take it internally, but unlike other oils, you can apply it to your skin neat. As a result, lavender oil can help with skin blemishes, minor scratches, and itchiness.
Lavender oil, applied to the temples, can help soothe a headache. Sprinkle some on your pillow or burn some in an aromatherapy burner to help you sleep at night.
Rosemary for Memory
Rosemary is a staple in many kitchen gardens and a beneficial herb. Ancient Roman soldiers used to tuck a sprig of rosemary behind their ears to remain alert during battles.
Rosemary tea is excellent for those studying - it keeps them awake and helps to lower stress. Just don't take it just before bedtime. It is also great for stimulating circulation - mix with a carrier oil and some coarse salt and use as a body scrub.
Rosemary tea is also an excellent rinse for dark hair - it brings out brown hair tones and helps maintain condition.
In terms of cooking, rosemary is very popular. This is because it helps to cut down the fat in foods. However, it has a robust flavor, so you should use it sparingly.
This little plant is almost impossible to kill. Here we call it a "vygie" or succulent. It's undemanding, can survive on little water, and isn't fussy about soil, so if you have a rocky patch that you can't seem to fill, put in some Bulbinella. The bonus is that it also has small delicate flowers.
As far as medicinal properties go, this is a gardener's dream. You use the leaves in much the same way as aloe leaves. Break off a leaf and squeeze the sap out of it.
Use it for insect bites, minor scratches (keep on hand when pruning roses), and minor skin complaints. The liquid is quite sticky, but it works like a dream. Leave on for a few minutes, and then rinse off.
You can also use the sap in an ointment. To get enough liquid, you will need a piece of muslin or cheesecloth and a bit of patience. Wrap the washed leaves in the cloth and squeeze them over a bowl to get as much sap as possible. (Incidentally, this is great for your hands.)
Add to an aqueous base cream—around 25% concentration and mix well. I usually add a few drops of Sandalwood oil—an excellent fixative and some lavender oil to make it smell nicer.
You could also add a capsule of Vitamin E oil as a preservative. (I don't usually do this, but I find that you have to be careful not to leave the cream in the sun as it can go off after a few weeks.)
Learn more about Bulbine fructescens.
Rose Scented Geranium Up Close
Rose Scented Geranium
Of all the various Geranium species, only the Rose-Scented Geranium is edible; make sure you have the correct species before using it internally.
This helpful herb makes a great-tasting tea that is very relaxing and great for headaches. It is also beneficial for alleviating digestive complaints.
To make a soothing tea, you only need one thumb-length sprig in one cup of boiling water. Allow to steep for 5 minutes, strain, and serve. You can sweeten it with honey if necessary.
You can crush the fresh leaves and spread the sap over your skin to repel insects.
The essential oil is beneficial for dry skin and eczema—place around three drops into 50ml of good aqueous cream and apply twice daily.
Be sure to Select the Correct Variant
Want to learn more about the Rose-Scented Geranium? Check out this article.
- Benefits and Uses of Geranium Pelargonium
Rose-scented geranium is one of the more useful herbs in the garden—it can be used to make a relaxing herbal tea, delicately scent and nourish wood, and keep insects at bay.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2015 Fiona
What Herbs do you Use at Home?
Fiona (author) from South Africa on October 14, 2015:
No, I had't but I just looked it up - looks interesting.
bguillemot on October 08, 2015:
Do you heard about gemmotherapy?
Fiona (author) from South Africa on May 13, 2015:
Hi Poetryman, that they are. I love them.
poetryman6969 on May 13, 2015:
I don't believe I have ever heard so many good things said about Nasturtiums. And they are easy to grow too!