6 Medicinal Herbs You Can Grow

Grow your own healing garden with these six easy-to-grow, tasty medicinal herbs.

| November/December 2012

Handful Herbs

Fill your garden with easy-to-grow medicinal herbs such as sage, rosemary and thyme.

Photo By Corbis

Humble though it may seem, an herb garden is truly a wonder of nature. Many herbs offer compounds known to ward off ailments and illnesses ranging from memory loss to stiff joints. Using culinary herbs to flavor food can also improve the healthfulness of our diets by helping us reduce our intake of fats and salts, instead flavoring dishes with the bright taste of homegrown herbs. And growing an herb garden offers a huge bang for your buck, as fresh culinary herbs are often expensive to buy but cheap to grow. All the herbs listed here are easy to grow, yummy to eat or drink, and offer medicinal value. Plant these six medicinal herbs for a garden of good health. (Note: Herbs grown in pots indoors like frequent applications of organic fertilizer. Alternatively, simply grow these potted herbs for a few months, then replace them with new plants when their health begins to wane.)

German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla): Chamomile is reputed to help reduce anxiety levels and bring on sleep, both of which are crucial to our health. Argentinean researchers discovered recently that a compound in chamomile oil binds to the same receptors as the Valium family of tranquilizers and anti-anxiety drugs. When Japanese researchers exposed animals under stress to chamomile vapors, the animals’ stress-hormone levels fell significantly. Chamomile can also soothe upset stomachs and may help relieve menstrual cramps.

GROW IT: This annual bushy shrub is easy to grow from seed or from cutting. It’s extremely low-maintenance outdoors in full sun, but you can also grow potted chamomile indoors provided you have a very sunny window or place it under fluorescent or grow lights. Chamomile requires lots of room, so plant it in a 12-inch pot in sandy, well-drained soil.

DRINK IT: To make a tea, pick chamomile flowers and lay them out to dry at room temperature out of direct sun for about a week. Store in a dry, well-sealed jar. Steep 1 to 2 tablespoons of dried blossoms in boiling water for about 10 minutes.

Oregano (Origanum spp.): Studies have found a compound in oregano called carvacrol to help prevent inflammation, which may help it protect against arthritis. Oregano is also high in several antioxidants including phenols and flavonoids, both of which are thought to protect against chronic diseases such as cancer.

GROW IT: Hardy, perennial oregano is extremely easy to grow provided it has ample light. Find a window with at least six hours of bright light, or place oregano under fluorescent or grow lights. Grow oregano in 6-inch pots and it will assume a trailing nature. Pinch off leaves regularly to encourage an increased harvest. Plant in well-draining soil, and let soil dry slightly between waterings.

kay michelson
12/4/2012 8:38:42 PM

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