Planting your own medicinal herb garden
Real benefits – myths aside!
Without a doubt there are numerous ‘old wives tales’ about medicinal herb gardens- herbs, plants and their magical cures. However, several plants have truly been shown (through lab tests and controlled trials) to have numerous health benefits.
Putting the myths and tall tales behind us, we are interested in how we can use plants from our own gardens to help our health! This can be both money saving and enjoyable, and in the mix of it all may be able to treat some common illnesses and ailments.
Herbs are certainly not hard to grow and you can even select a few which interest you and try them in a small little ‘medicinal herb pot’. It is also surprisingly easy to prepare them into usable forms.
In this blog you can learn the different ways to prepare medicinal herbs and our top 7 herbs for growing in a physic garden!
Picking and storing;
Unsurprisingly, the best time to use the herbs and flowers is when they are fresh. Ideally pick them is just before noon, at this time the essential oils have been warmed by the sun and there’s no dew left. If you plan on storing the leaves dry, this is also fine just endeavour to get them dry as soon as possible without putting them in the sun. Then you can store them in sealed jars in a dark place where they should keep for at least a few months.
Methods of preparation
- – Tea;
This is the most simple way to use the herbs and plants. The tea is made by simply pouring boiling water over the leaves or flowers and leaving it to brew (in a covered container) for roughly 10 minutes and then straining. This can be drunk or used to wash your skin or dab on affected areas of skin. If you are drinking the tea it is extra tasty if you add some honey. Why not try the local Devon Honey produced from flowers of the exe valley that we stock in store.
- – Decoctions;
This is a method used to prepare bark, fruits and seeds. This is done by boiling them in water in a saucepan for between 10-15 minutes. You then strain the mixture and water it down and sweeten to taste for drinking.
- – Tincture;
This makes a small amount of concentrated liquid that is taken in drops. To prepare, chop up herbs/flowers very finely and place in a glass jar. Cover the herbs with vodka or a strong spirit and seal the jar. After 4-6 weeks the tincture should be strained and is ready for use when needed.
- – Syrups (eg cough syrup);
This is a quick and easy way to prepare herbs. Chop up and bruise your herbs and boil in a sugar and water solution until it becomes thick and of course syrupy! Then strain and store!
- – Cough sweets;
Prepare a syrup and after straining it put it back in the pan and add more sugar and boil for a bit longer. When it becomes very thick, pour it onto a well greased baking tray and leave it to cool. When it has hardened you can break it into pieces!
Our top 7 herbs and their uses;
- 1. Lavender; soothing, calming and a great smell to encourage sleep. A tea can be drunk to help sleep- or can be used to soothe injuries such as burns and aid healing.
- 2. Thyme; has antiseptic and antibacterial properties. It is a great addition to teas and tinctures that soothe sores in the mouth or throat. Also good for rubbing on cuts.
- 3. Rosemary; known for being rich in anti oxidants and having anti inflammatory properties. Often used to boost the immune system.
- 4. Bay; known for helping with digestive issues such as an upset stomach or IBS by settling the stomach. Used as a tea it can also be applied to shampooed hair to reduce dandruff and flaky dry skin.
- 5. House leek (sempervivum); the leave can be plucked and cut open to reveal a soothing gel to use on stings and minor burns.
- 6. Marjoram; an amazing herb known for it’s wide health benefits. It has several benefits in tea which can be used to relieve digestive issues such as flatulence, diarrhoea and cramps. It has also been proven in studies to be a great herb for women’s health used for hormonal imbalance. Similarly it is known for its use for pain relief.
- 7. Fennel; great for stomach pains and wind. This can be prepared or one can simply chew the seeds for a speedy and effective cure.
All of these herbs can be found in our stores in 9cm pots for only £2 each or a special offer of 10 for £15!