Natural Remedies… Farmacopoeia… Plants Before Pills.
There’s lots of turbulence in and around big pharma today. Modern medicine can be a lifesaver, so this article on homegrown remedies is NOT an anti-pharma rant. Rather, it’s about focusing on prevention and utilization of the pharmacopoeia of healing plants provided by nature first, whenever possible.
I’ve always been interested in medicinal plants and healing through healthy foods, and always head to the herbal remedy drawer before a pill bottle.
Plants before pills… roots and leaves for ills.
This—and every—spring, we enjoy salads that included wild violet leaves and flowers, dandelion leaves and blossoms, plus a sprinkling of chickweed. Not only do these plant treasures make for an exotic gourmet salad, they pack a powerful nutritional punch! We also add in longevity spinach leaves from our gynura plants.
38 years ago, I bought my first healing herbs book. I have several now, all well worn and weathered. I’ve always loved the concept of foraging for food and medicine and making our own salves, teas and homegrown remedies.
If only I had kept it up with the studies all this time, perhaps I could’ve been more like one of our herbalist idols, Rosemary Gladstar. I can’t meet a new plant without wondering what nutritional and/or medicinal treasures it may hold, because so often they do.
I love how there’s so much we can do to take control of our own health and wellness. Further, that there are so many homegrown remedies as close as our yards and kitchens.
RELATED: Edible and medicinal ground covers
Never Say Never
There’s so much to learn between botanical names, plant identification, remembering what plants are good for what things, and how to identify, harvest, store and prepare them.
Unfortunately, my brain just doesn’t cooperate when it comes to study, memorizing and retention, unless I’m using that info daily. So I just never took the time to become certified in plant lore and let that dream go to seed.
Still… some seeds lay dormant until conditions are right, so never say never! At 61 this year (in 2020), I’m focusing on what I can learn, create and grow during these next 40 years, so there’s still time. 🙂
Meanwhile, so grateful for the abundance of free information at our fingertips from the world wide web, plus so many books and teachers readily sharing their knowledge online. With all of us walking around with the entire set of encyclopedias, dictionaries, reference books and teachers in our pockets, memorization isn’t as necessary. In fact, best not to congest our busy brains with unnecessary facts until we need them! O
Of course, the very best way to learn and remember, is to do.
So as I’m updating this article I’m sipping a cup of homegrown tea with dried longevity spinach (gynura), blueberry leaves and a rosehip from our rugosa rose bush. All from our yard and garden, all medicinal and beneficial.
Hands on Learning
Meanwhile, I’ve learned most from as-needed usage. For me, the best learning comes from research, study and application of what is needed, when it is needed.
All the more reason that I’m grateful for ready access to learning from those who’ve devoted their lives to healing herbs and plant lore. 38 years ago, there were a few books available. Today, there are many books, courses and free articles and videos from herbalists sharing their knowledge with the world
Thank goodness for ready access to the world wide web, available for searching what we need, when we need it! And of course… as in the garden, we have to weed out the bad weeds online and focus on the good. Some of it is wisdom and some of it is weeds. 🍃
“When it comes to weeds… you might check before you chuck and investigate before you terminate. Those plants may just hold hidden treasures that you need.”
~Coleman Alderson, co-owner-GardensAll.com
We definitely plan to grow, harvest and make more of our own medicinal herbal medicines, and we add new ones each year. This year it’s gynura, lemon balm and calendula blossom, which are wonderfully healing for skin irritations and minor abrasions in the form of calendula oil, cream and salve.
Though for convenience we also make good use of some of the many really good herbal remedies increasingly more available on the market today. If you’re short on space or time to grow and make your own, there are many really great remedies readily available, so that’s where we’ll start.
Preventive medicine isn’t part of a physician’s everyday routine, which is spent dispensing drugs and performing surgery.
Try Pre-Blended Remedies First. Here’s Why:
Even if you can grow your own, if you’re just getting started at making your own herbal concoctions for homegrown remedies, we recommend buying some pre-made remedies first. That way you can discover and decide which herbal blends work best for you, before going to the trouble of buying seed, growing, harvesting, dehydrating and blending them!
Pre-made blends show you which herbs they’re using on the ingredients label. So find a blend you like and grow those. Sure, you won’t have the exact recipe for proportions, but based on the order of ingredients in the list you can probably come close to making your own reasonable concoction in many cases.
Toward that, here is our go-to mouthwash and mouth rinse, recommended by our dentist, and verified by us over years of use. We’ve resolved many a sore tooth and sore gums situation, by using this mouth tonic. It’s all the better because it’s a natural herbal remedy!
RELATED: This may also help you to determine which plants to grow.
Here’s what the Dental Herb Company has to say about their Herbal Tooth Tonic, which is an essential in our household:
Herbal Tooth Tonic
Reducing Oral Bacteria
The pure essential oils in Dental Herb Company products are powerful antimicrobials, providing maximum potency and long-lasting effectiveness to combat the harmful oral bacteria that lead to halitosis and periodontal disease.
Promoting Gingival Healing
Dental Herb Company products contain gotu kola and Echinacea – two powerful anti-inflammatory herbs shown to stimulate healing and repair damaged tissue. The pure essential oils of lavender and eucalyptus, well known for their soothing and healing properties, are key elements in the formulae.https://www.dentalherb.com/
So, to keep on hand for dental ailments, try Dental Tooth Tonic or make your own by growing you can grow your own herbs for this. It takes a lot of plants to make even a little bit of essential oils, however, whatever herbs you grow are invariably good for multiple ailments and usually also have culinary or herbal tea benefit.
If you can’t grow your own herbs, you can still save money by purchasing in bulk and making your own or a combination of growing and procuring what you can’t grow. In this list for instance, growing Eucalyptus to make your own eucalyptus oil may not be practice, but you could purchase the oil and grow the other herbs.
Started by famed herbalist author, Rosemary Gladstar in 1974,https://www.traditionalmedicinals.com/our-roots/ these are literally the teas in our medicinal tea drawer – except for one that I just discovered, as mentioned below—and am trying that one next).
Our Go-to Herbal Tea Remedies:
- Traditional Medicinals PMS
- Traditional Medicinals Healthy Cycle (formerly Female Toner)
- Traditional Cooling Sage for Menopause and Hot Flashes
- Traditional Medicinals Smooth Move
- Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat
- Traditional Medicinals Ginger Digestive Aid
- Traditional Medicinals Tummy Tea for Kids
- Traditional Medicinals Cold Care (there are several different ones we alternate, so this is a sampler.
- Traditional Medicinals Echinacea Plus Elderberry
- Yogi Echinacea Immune Support
- Yogi Peach Detox
- Dandelion for Detox – Traditional Medicinals has several varieties and we like them all
Next, learn about 4 popular medicinal herbs you can grow and use for numerous homegrown remedies. We’ll also cover the herb’s benefits, growing medicinal plants and how easy it is to make your own teas.
4 Popular Medicinal Herbs
A favorite herbal tea, mint is an ingredient in many different commercial tea blends, and is much-loved for its refreshing fragrance.
Cucumber water with mint lemon and other fruits for the best kind of “vitamin water“!
An easy herb to grow that comes in many varieties is mint. But be forewarned, mint can quickly overtake your garden! For this reason, it is recommended to grow mint in either a container or its own bed. There are many varieties of mint and the healing properties are similar. Whether you grow peppermint or spearmint, the active component is menthol.
CAUTION: The antispasmodic properties of mint may not be advisable if you suffer from acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux). Always check with your doctor first and if approved, test small amounts carefully.
Mint tea can be used to:
- Reduce congestion in a cold or flu sufferer
- Minimize pain and bloating from gas
- Reduce cramping from diarrhea
- Act as a mild expectorant for a chest cold or bronchitis
- Reduce fever by inducing sweating, the body’s natural cooling mechanism
- Relieve nausea without vomiting
Find more on growing mint and making soothing and medicinal herbal teas at these links. Oh, and we love adding mint to our watermelon smoothies. See why you’ll want to whip up some, including using the seeds.
To think that for YEARS that we were tossing those high density nutrients into the trash!! Now we blend them in smoothies using our Vitamix, which works great and you don’t even notice them. For a short cut, and to save extracting all of the seeds, we also just chew them up with the melon.
But now back to mint and other homegrown remedies, followed by more beneficial plants with many uses.
Considered an herb rather than a vegetable, this homely root with intensely pungent flavor, is an ingredient in many natural cough, cold, and nausea treatments. Instead of giving your child cola or ginger ale (with all the HFCS and artificial flavors that come in it) for an upset stomach brew up a nice cup of ginger tea sweetened with honey for a real dose of soothing ginger! OR… make some awesome homemade ginger ale. It tastes great and is so much better for you.
Ginger is a tropical plant that’s easy to grow indoors. It requires excellent soil, warmth, humidity, and filtered sunlight.https://www.tropicalpermaculture.com/growing-ginger.html
Caution: It’s not recommended to exceed 4 grams of ginger per day – components in the herb can cause irritation of the mouth, heartburn and diarrhea if taken in excess. Also consult with your physician if you have health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, blood disorders, or are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Ginger tea can be used to:
- Reduce nausea
- Prevent or treat motion sickness
- Warm the body of someone suffering from chills
- Induce sweating to break a fever
- Soothe a sore throat
- Make Fire Cider – touted as boosting immunity to cold and flu
This next one is often used in Thai cooking. Can you guess it?
Lemongrass is another herb that is loaded with healing properties. The spiky, easy-to-grow plant has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, and antifungal properties, making it helpful in treating a plethora of ailments.
You can actually root the lemongrass that you buy at the grocery store to start your own patio lemongrass farm. It grows beautifully in a large pot, making it a good herb for the apartment windowsill farmer to cultivate. Lemongrass can be grown year-round indoors.https://purplefoodie.com/grow-your-own-lemongrass/#.UfABRY0WLDs
Lemongrass tea can help to:
- aid in digestion
- calm nervous disorders and anxiety
- aid in the treatment of high blood pressure if consumed daily
- dilate blood vessels and improve circulation
- act as a mild diuretic to reduce fluid retention
You can probably guess this next one. If you had to think of just one plant that gets the most mention for boosting the immune system during cold and flu season, what would that be? Probably the most popular plant that everyone knows and assumes to be beneficial, but is it?
Editor’s Note: Apparently, no scientific studies have proven the efficacy of echinacea for boosting the immune system or aiding in colds and flu. So it’s astonishing to the scientific community that echinacea claims and products proliferate store shelves and online resources.
We use it. We don’t think that something unproven is invalid, but it’s certainly cause for pause. Meanwhile, we’re sharing here the common knowledge on echinacea as well as a research paper that dives into the studies and the history of the folklore. See what you think, and if you come across alternate research to this, please let us know.https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/echinacea-for-cold-and-flu/
This lovely flowering plant is probably the pinnacle of herbal preventatives. Echinacea is not only antibacterial – but it is believed to stimulate the body’s immune system to fight off bacterial and viral attacks. The medicinal properties are in the leaves and the purple flowers.
Echinacea is also known as the “purple coneflower”. The plant has deep taproots and is somewhat drought resistant. It is a perennial. Sow seeds outdoors in the early spring before the last frost. These plants like full sun and they don’t like too much moisture.
Echinacea tea is believed to help:
- enhance the immune system
- relieve pain
- reduce inflammation
- provide antioxidant effects
- shorten illness time for sufferers of the common cold
RELATED: Rosa sinensis, AKA Hibiscus, is also a flower with benefits great to add to teas.
Herbal Remedies for Anxiety and Menopause
Since I’ve had personal experience with these herbal remedies, for any that is may serve, whether that’s you or someone you know. You can try tinctures by this company and end up growing the ones that work for you if you choose to..
You can read more about my experience with these herbal remedies and how I reduced dramatic menopausal symptoms and healed anxiety and panic attacks. This may also help if you’re struggling with fear, stress, worry and anxiety.
You may also be interested in reading about herbal remedies for cold and flu season, or this one on 3 ingredient herbal teas for cold and flu. And, if you’re just getting started growing herbs you might benefit by one these herb garden kits.
If you’d like us to publish your herb garden photos, send them to us with:
- Your name for image credit written as your preference of full name or abbreviated with initials, such as John Doe; J.Doe or John D. E.g.’s:
- John Doe, retired pastor, garden enthusiast
- Jane D., teacher, gardener
- J. Doe, market gardener
- Or you can request no name mention if you wish to remain anonymous
- Description of what’s pictured; include plant names, etc., where relevant
- Include your website or social media link if you have one that you’d like us to add for tribute
DISCLAIMER: We aren’t doctors offering medical advice of any kind. We’re simply sharing some of the things we use that have helped us and/or others through the ages.
I’m LeAura Alderson, entrepreneur, ideator, media publisher, writer and editor of GardensAll.com. Pursuits in recent years have been more planting seeds of ideas for business growth more than gardening. However, I’ve always kept plants, been interested in medicinal herbs and nutrition and healing from food over pharmacy. I assist in our family gardening projects primarily (at present) through the sharing of information through our websites and newsletters.
As a family we’re steadily expanding our gardening, experimentation and knowledge around all things gardening, edible landscaping, fresh organic foods and self sustainability and hopefully, farming in our future. We thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the creative ingenuity of the GardensAll community. I also own and manage theiCreateDaily.com.