I love herbal medicine, and use it extensively in my naturopathic practice. One of the great things about herbal medicine is that many herbs can be grown in your backyard and harvested for year-round use! You can remove some old trees (visit http://www.gatreecompany.com/ to learn more) and have more space planting herbs.
Some herbs are perennial (meaning they come back every year) while others are annuals (last for one growing season) and need to be planted every year. If you don’t have a lot of room for a garden, container gardening works beautifully!
Here are some of my favourite herbs to include in any medicinal garden.
1. Calendula officinalis: Used in many topical creams and salves, this herb (aka Marigold) can be made into soaps and lotions at home. The beautiful flowers also help to repel insects and are used in companion gardening.
2. Echinacea purpurea: Echinacea is well known for its immune supporting properties. These beautiful plants grace many gardens in Nova Scotia. To be used medicially, the roots must be harvested so I tend to leave these intact so that they return year after year.
3. German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita): Not to be confused with Roman chammomile, this annual produces daisy-like flowers that can be used for tea. This calming herb is safe for children as well, making it a nice herb to have on hand.
4. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis): This perennial is easy to grow and will welcome bees to your garden! Along with chammomile, lemon balm can be used as a nervine herb with sedative properties. It also smells wonderful!
5. Peppermint (Mentha piperita): The mightiest of mints! Peppermint is well suited to indoor or outdoor container gardening. Well known for its digestive properties, it can be used in a tea using fresh or dried leaves to reduce bloating after meals.
Other medicinal herbs to consider for your garden:
- Sage (salvia officinalis)
- Rosemary (Rosemary officinalis)
- Motherwort (Leonarus cardiaca)
- Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)
- Yarrow (Achillia millefolium)