Grow Your Own Medicinal Herbs

Written by Jonathan Dick

Herbs have been used for thousands of years as a medicine to help your body heal naturally and effectively. Herbs such as Borage, Yarrow, Cayenne and more can be used to treat infections, fight blood loss, treat sickness and more.Check out this list of common herbs that you might use to help you in an emergency. Knowing how to use herbs to heal your body will help you become more self-sufficient and help you save money.

Before You Use Herbs
While herbs are natural, it does not mean they can be taken without caution. Medicinal Herbs can be very powerful and the compounds in them can interact with other drugs, medicines or herbs you may be taking so investigate before you start taking something new.

Grow your own medicinal herbsAs with anything, it is recommended to consult your physician before taking any medications, supplements or before making any significant changes to your dietary habits including the use of medicinal herbs.  Side effects can occur with any of these herbs, the most common of which may be an allergic reaction. Again, consult a physician about us­ing these herbs and proper dosing.

Children, women who are pregnant or hope to be pregnant, and those with compromised immunity should take caution before using these herbs.  Prolonged use may lead to lower effectiveness.

Borage
Borage is one of the few plants with a true blue flower which is also edible. Borage leaves and flowers can be eaten fresh or dried. The leaves eaten fresh have a taste similar to cucumber and the flower a sweet taste. Natural herbalist use Borage to regulate the metabolism and hormone system, some claiming it helps with PMS and hot flashes.[1] It is also used as an anti-inflam­matory as Borage is the highest known natural producer of gamma linolenic acid (GLA) and is medically accepted as “possibly effective” for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, lung function in ill patients and growth and devel­opment of premature babies.[2] Borage should not be taken if you have liver disease.Borage is typically made into tea or eaten fresh on salads.Plant borage in healthy, well-drained soil with full sun to partial shade expo­sure. Plant after the danger of frost has passed and plant in tight clusters so plants support each other as they grow (8 inches apart).

Calendula
Calendula is also called a pot marigold but, as a member of the daisy fam­ily, looks more like a daisy. The pedals of the calendula flower are edible and thought to work as an anti-viral and anti-inflammatory.[3] It has also been used to treat acne, constipation and abdominal cramps. Calendula has also been used topically and reported to help reduce swelling and bleeding including hemorrhoids and to help wounds heal faster.[4] Dried Calendula is found in many ointments. Calendula may cause drowsiness so take caution.Typically fresh flower pedals are added to salads, or eaten directly. Dried pedals are sometimes used to replace saffron. It is also applied directly to the skin.Plant in healthy, well-drained soil with full sun. Plant after the danger of frost has passed about 1/4 inch deep. Plant about 16 inches apart and dead head flowers to keep the plant blooming. If the heat of summer begins to make plant appear sick, cut back heavily and keep watered. Plant will bloom again as weather cools.Discuss with a doctor before taking and to establish dosage. University of Maryland recommends same and offers that historic Adult dosages have been:

• Infusion: 1 tsp (5 – 10 g) dried florets in 8 oz (250 mL) water; steep 10 – 15 minutes; drink 2 – 3 cups per day
• Fluid extract (1:1 in 40% alcohol): 0.5 – 1.0 mL 3 times per day
• Tincture (1:5 in 90% alcohol): 5 – 10 drops (1 – 2 mL) 3 times per day
• Ointment: 2 – 5% calendula; apply 3 – 4 times per day as needed

Cayenne
Cayenne hot peppers have been used as both a food and a medicine by Native Americans for thousands of years. Cayenne peppers can be eaten fresh when they are red or green, used in cooking, dried and ground into pepper flakes, or pulped-dried and then ground into a fine powder.The main active ingredient in Cayenne is Capsaicin which has been used to treat digestive problems, help with pain relief and help with circulatory prob­lems. Capsaicin cream is used to treat arthritis, muscle pain and shingles. In addition, capsaicin is the key ingredient in personal defense sprays.[5]Start pepper plants indoors 7 weeks before the projected last frost date for your area and transplant when the soil has warmed and all danger of frost has passed in late spring. Peppers love warm soil, sunny locations and well-drained soil.Discuss with a doctor before taking and to establish dosage. University of Maryland recommends same and offers that historic Adult dosages have been:

• For shingles, psoriasis, arthritis, or muscle pain: Capsaicin cream (0.025 – 0.075% capsaicin) may be applied directly to the affected area up to 4 times a day. Pain may slightly increase at first, but then may get better over the next few days. Capsaicin should be applied regularly several times a day. It usually takes 3 – 7 days before you notice substantial pain relief.

NOTE: Be sure to completely wash your hands with soap and water after handling, water alone won’t remove capsaicin. If you are sensitive or want to ensure you wash as much capsaicin as possible try using a diluted vinegar solution.

Dandelion
Dandelion’s are a common site and frustration in our lawns, however, dande­lions are entirely edible and are a good source of vitamins A, B complex, C and D[6]. They are also high in iron, potassium, and zinc. The most common historic uses for dandelion are as a diuretic, to treat mild digestive problems or increase appetite, and to treat liver issues. Some people have had allergic reactions to the pollen so try in small doses if you are unsure.Dandelion can be eaten fresh in salads, blanched (which will also remove some of the bitterness) or dried. The flowers are used by many to make dandelion wine. Young leaves are much less bitter than fully mature leaves. The root can be dry roasted over high heat until the color of a good roasted coffee bean and ground up as a caffeine free coffee or tea substitute. When harvesting roots, second year crops, harvested in the autumn will give you the best yield and best flavor.As you probably know, dandelions will grow well just about anywhere and if care is not taken will quickly spread. If you are cropping dandelions they will be best if planted in light soil to give the root good development. Con­stant care should be taken to collect seed heads before they spread.Discuss with a doctor before taking and to establish dosage. University of Maryland recommends same and offers that historic Adult dosages have been:

• Dried leaf infusion: 1 – 2 teaspoonfuls, 3 times daily. Pour hot water onto dried leaf and steep for 5 – 10 minutes. Drink as directed.
• Dried root decoction: 1/2 – 2 teaspoonfuls, 3 times daily. Place root into boiling water for 5 – 10 minutes. Strain and drink as directed.
• Leaf tincture (1:5) in 30% alcohol: 30 – 60 drops, 3 times daily
• Standardized powdered extract (4:1) leaf: 500 mg, 1 – 3 times daily
• Standardized powdered extract (4:1) root: 500 mg, 1 – 3 times daily
• Root tincture (1:2) fresh root in 45% alcohol: 30 – 60 drops, 3 times daily

Echinacea
Echinacea, also a member of the daisy family, is one of the most common herbs used today and has of recent been heavily promoted as a treatment to prevent or shorten the development of the common cold. Historically, Echi­nacea was used by the Native Americans to treat the symptoms of the cold such as headaches, sore throats, cough, and fever.Echinacea can be eaten fresh, dried, made into teas, juiced, or applied exter­nally.Direct sow in spring under ¼ inch of well-drained soil in a sunny location. Echinacea is drought tolerant and can do well without lots of water once established.Discuss with a doctor before taking and to establish dosage. Suggested Adult dosages for general immune system stimulation, during colds, flu, upper respiratory tract infections, or bladder infections, choose from the following forms and take 3 times a day until you feel better, but not for more than 7 – 10 days:• 1 – 2 grams dried root or herb, as tea

• 2 – 3 mL of standardized tincture extract
• 6 – 9 mL of expressed juice (succus)
• 300 mg of standardized, powdered extract containing 4% phenolics
• Tincture (1:5): 1 – 3 mL (20 – 90 drops)
• Stabilized fresh extract: 0.75 mL (15 – 23 drops)
• Apply to wounds as needed

Herbs medicineFenugreek
Fenugreek is a very versatile and useful plant. The dried or fresh leaves are used as an herb, the seeds are a popular spice and the fresh leaves are edible. There is reasonable scientific support for the use of fenugreek in the treat­ment of diabetes.[7] It is also widely used to promote increased milk produc­tion in lactating women and increased libido in men.Leaves can be eaten fresh, sautéed, or dried. Seeds often roasted to open up their flavors and release some bitterness and are used whole or in a powdered form.Direct sow Fenugreek in a sunny location and thin as necessary with final planting about 4 inches apart. Seeds form in long brown pods that develop near the summer. Fenugreek is slow to grow in cold wet climates.

Hyssop
Hyssop has a very strong flavor which is similar to mint. Hyssop leaves are used in salads and soups. Hyssop also is used when cooking meat.Hyssop has traditionally been used to treat pulmonary conditions[8] and is most used as an expectorant. Hyssop tea is the usual means of taking in the herb with people either steeping the green tops or steeping the dried Hyssop flowers in hot water.Direct sow Hyssop seeds in the spring in a sunny well drained location about 12 inches apart. Hyssop is fairly hardy once established and can continue to be propagated from cuttings. Like other woody herbs Hyssop will need to be replaced every few years otherwise becomes too woody. Hyssop also will benefit from being cut back from time to time.

Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is a member of the mint family and has a strong lemony sent and flavor. It is frequently used to treat cold sores, promote relaxation and as a mosquito repellent. Research is also being conducted to look at lemon balm as possibly effective for Alzheimer’s. [9]Direct sow in spring or early fall in a cool and partially shaded location. Cover with 1/8th inch of soil. Trimming will result in additional branching producing a bushier more robust plant. As a member of the mint family, Lemon balm with self-propagate through its root structure and can quickly spread.Discuss with a doctor before taking and to establish dosage. University of Maryland recommends same and offers that historic Adult dosages have been:• Capsules: Take 300 – 500 mg dried lemon balm, 3 times daily or as needed.

• Tea: 1.5 – 4.5 grams (1/4 – 1 teaspoonful) of dried lemon balm herb in hot water. Steep and drink up to 4 times daily.
• Tincture: 60 drops of lemon balm daily
• Topical: Apply topical cream to affected area, 3 times daily or as direct­ed.
• For cold sores or herpes sores, steep 2 – 4 teaspoonfuls of crushed leaf in 1 cup boiling water for 10 – 15 minutes. Cool. Apply tea with cotton balls to the sores throughout the day.

Lovage
Lovage is an extremely versatile plant. Its leaves are a very flavorful herb reminiscent of parsley and celery. The roots are a delicious vegetable that tastes great braised. The stalks can be eaten similar to celery. The seeds are a great spice that add tremendous flavor to bread. Because it is so similar in flavor to parsley and celery it is a common replacement for them in recipes.As a medicinal, lovage has been historically used to treat sore throats, treat indigestion and help rheumatism.[10] It has even been used in shoes as a deodorant  Of course, it is also thought to be an aphrodisiac. Like many herbs lovage leaves will become a bit bitterer after the plant flowers so leaves are best harvested before flowering. Lovage is best direct sowed in the fall is a sunny to partially shady location. Lovage can become quite large so give it about 2 to 3 feet.

Yarrow
Yarrow is a well-known herb which has been which has been used for hun­dreds of years. One primary benefit of yarrow is that it is easy to grow and tolerates drought and less fertile soil better than many other plants. As an added benefit yarrow attracts many beneficial garden insects.Yarrow is most typically used for its ability to slow bleeding and is used on cuts and abrasions or bloody noses.[11] The leaves can also be dried or cooked in a soup.Sow yarrow seed under no more than 1/8th an inch of soil in the late spring. Yarrow prefers a sunny location and can tolerate dryer conditions than most other plants.Discuss with a doctor before taking and to establish dosage. Suggested dos­ages have been:• Capsules: Take 300 – 500 mg dried lemon balm, 3 times daily or as needed.

• Tea: 1.5 – 4.5 grams (1/4 – 1 teaspoonful) of dried yarrow flower in hot water. Steep and drink up to 4 times daily.
• Tincture: ¼ to ½ teaspoon – 2 to 5 times a day
• Topical: directly chew root for temporary relief from tooth ache. For wounds, apply a clean cloth soaked in a strong yarrow infusion directly to wound.

Your Recommendations
So, what herbs do you find most helpful? Comment below to share your knowledge and help others along their way.


[1] http://thehealthblog.us/2013/01/borage-flowers-that-help-heal.html
[2] US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11710548
[3] US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19374166
[4] Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/disclaimer?msk_disclaimer_herb=1&destination=%2Fcancer-care%2Fherb%2Fcalendula
[5] University of Maryland Medical Center: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/cayenne–000230.htm
[6] http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2441/2
[7] US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19857068
[8] US Pharmacist Publication http://legacy.uspharmacist.com/oldformat.asp?url=newlook/files/Comp/hyssop.htm&pub_id=8&article_id=741
[9] http://alzheimers.about.com/od/alternativetreatments/a/Lemon_balm.htm
[10] Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/crop843?opendocument
[11] University of Maryland. School of Medicine. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/yarrow-000282.htm

Updated April 4, 2013

18 Comments

  1. Mak holland wrote:

    Lou it

    April 5th, 2013 at 3:26 am
  2. REID wrote:

    remember that some herbs are illegal to grow. And illegal or not I would not broadcast the fact that you are growing medicinal plants because the slow witted among us can and will most likely mark you for persecution. Recently I’ve seen where peoples property was raided and they were only , harvesting maple syrup, growing vegetables in their basement, or charged with farming in non farm zoned areas. remember if you are perceived as “different” you will be seen as a threat to many.

    April 5th, 2013 at 3:45 am
  3. Mark holland wrote:

    Tx u
    Thnks greed intel
    Have a nice day
    Mark

    April 5th, 2013 at 4:05 am
  4. Megan wrote:

    Reid,
    Thank you for bringing this out. You are 100% right. Being different is tough.

    April 5th, 2013 at 6:44 am
  5. Ben from Texas wrote:

    Good advice REID.If it every gets to the point I’ve got to protect my garden from an intrusive government then I say let the war begin.Raw milk is banned in many places.Big milk producers and their high dollar lobbyist grease the wheels of greed in Washington and the small farmer gets screwed again.Even Monsanto gets their way by bribing Obama to sign an order not allowing GMO lobbying on GENETICALLY TAMPERED PRODUCTS which are banned in Europe from what I hear.I’ve heard rumors they want to ”chip my chickens”because of the fear of bird flu..yea right like I’m going to take them to the vet and spend good money chipping a dozen chickens.If I had my way I’d round up every politician that voted for Genetically altered foods to be tied up and force fed this crap instead of the organic foods they eat..Poor can’t afford Organic but the rich get richer by feeding it to us.Get ready Patriots and get as self sufficient because when the economy of the US collapses the shelves in Wal Mart will be stripped in hours after a run on the banks..Live free die free..

    April 5th, 2013 at 6:55 am
  6. Spirit wrote:

    Remember the true naturalists were almost exterminated from this country and all of their herbal remedies still work Grow your own herbs and produce Natural is best

    April 5th, 2013 at 1:50 pm
  7. gwen2K wrote:

    I would add that growning these is a nice way to provide for your families but there is a right and wrong way. Some herbs need to be harvested at certain times and some need the stems and flowers harvested at other times. They need to be dried correctly to be safely used. Also, the above types are just a start. Lavender can be used for so many different things – burns, scars, etc. It is hardy and drought resistant. Rose hips are a great source of vitamin c, and wild roses grow in many places. Chamomile is good for many digestive issues. The above is a start, learn about what you plant and how to take care of it and use it. Be safe.

    April 6th, 2013 at 2:51 pm
  8. TreeDogRain wrote:

    Preparedness and self sufficiency, yes. No thanks to paranoia, suspicion, and distracting “I’ve heard rumors” talk. Thanks to all who offer great info and insights in support of the former.

    April 9th, 2013 at 11:24 am
  9. Spelling wrote:

    Calendula has PETALS not pedals as in a bicycle.

    June 21st, 2013 at 10:07 am
  10. CautiousRN wrote:

    To TreeDogRain: Here’s a Heads Up for ya. I worked in a Dr office as an RN for 2 yrs & thought this Doc was really with it. We hired a RN Practitioner to help with the pt load-the Pts loved her, staff loved her-she was really great! One day after the last pt had left, I hear my boss YELLING at her about her “unprofessional conduct”. He said she was a disgrace to modern medicine with her “voodoo practices” and “faith healing”. Then he tells her that not only was she fired, but he planned to call the Board of Nursing and have her license revoked! What had this RN Practitioner done, you ask? She gave a pt a recipe for 3 essential oils: Lavender, Rosemary, and Eucalyptus: to mix and keep in a vial to use as aromatherapy when the pt was feeling a tension headache coming. That was in 2009! Traditional medicine practitioners don’t want competition, and they base much of their practice on “paranoia” and “suspicion”. Reid hit it on the nail-be cautious, careful, and quiet. Natural medical therapies and treatments-whether they help or not-are “different” and I for one prefer not to be persecuted for being prepared, not scared. If that labels me as paranoid, I can dig it! PS: I backed up the RNP’s suggestion with a couple of my own herbal remedy books the next day and was also fired. Like I said; Cautious, careful, and quiet.

    July 19th, 2013 at 12:30 am
  11. Ruby wrote:

    Wish I had that recipe for Lavender, Rosemary and Eucalyptus for headaches and the names of the suggested herbal remedy books suggested.

    July 25th, 2013 at 7:51 pm
  12. Wanda Philipps RN wrote:

    I would like to get a book on recipe’s for curing ailments without drugs. If you know about how to get these books or have some recipe’s I would like to get them. I believe in natural medicine. I know doctors do not want us to know how to take care of ourselves. They get paid for us keeping ourselves sick and miserable. Thank you for this information people needs to know if they want to stay healthy they have to take control of their health and use herbal medicine for God made these naturally.

    January 16th, 2014 at 7:46 pm
  13. mcgeepass wrote:

    Regarding those looking for books on curing ailments without drugs, I have the set The Complete Guide to Natural Healing. It’s a 5-volume set I bought over time about 15 years ago. It breaks down everything into categories such as medicinal plants, different teas, aromatherapy, homeopathy, herbs & spices, garden pharmacy, ailments & treatments, gentle diagnoses, and alternative therapies. I’ve contacted the publisher (haven’t heard back yet), but I don’t think it’s available anymore (although I have seen parts here and there at garage sales). However, there is also the Herbal PDR (Physicians Desk Reference) that is a good source of information, but I don’t think it gives recipes. Hope this gives a bit of help.

    February 27th, 2014 at 8:54 pm
  14. Toby Smith wrote:

    Ruby,

    Use Feverfew for Migraine headaches. Combined with Thyme (as a catalyst) they will stop most headaches.

    For body pain, I use Tumeric and Boswellia to block progesterone, and thus have the same effect as NSAIDS (which destroy this endogenous progesterone to work) without attacking the GI system.

    Study herbals, and test how they work on you personally, because they act differently on different people.

    March 23rd, 2014 at 7:21 pm
  15. Lynda wrote:

    I just check Amazon and there are 2 books with that same title “The Complete Guide to Natural Healing”. One is soft back and the other is a ringed binder. I wonder if the binder is the one mcgeepass is referring to.

    March 29th, 2014 at 9:46 am
  16. Lynda wrote:

    Actually there are a lot of other interesting herb/natural/essential oil books. Do you have some other recommedations too?

    March 29th, 2014 at 9:57 am
  17. mikeName wrote:

    A good source of used books on all subjects is ABEbooks.com.
    Along with pedals / petals the writer may want to learn the difference between-sight-site-and cite.

    June 23rd, 2014 at 3:22 am
  18. Crusader wrote:

    Be ready, be cautious, and quietly alert. The “polyannas” and oblivious naysayers will
    be gone, or enslaved. Protect yourselves,

    June 23rd, 2014 at 7:32 am

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