14 medicinal plants to grow right now

I know I’m not over 65 and I don’t wear linen shirts or broad-brimmed straw hats or drink sherry at 10am (just because that's always the sort of person featured on the front of gardening mags), but one of the things I’ve delighted in doing over the past year is gardening. Oh yes. I draw exuberant satisfaction from growing plants that serve a purpose. Not just edibles, but plants that make you sleepy, soothe a bloated belly, improve your memory or relieve your sore throat.

illustration by Cathy Richardson

Centuries ago – and still in many cultures today – people turned to plants to heal, as opposed to little white tablets sold my pharma companies (incidentally, most little white tablets contain ingredients first derived from plants anyway). Nowadays we’ve been indoctrinated to visit the chemist whenever we’re feeling a little prickly. I think it’s nice to have another option.

The clever thing is that anyone can plant a medicinal garden to suit any need. Plant in the ground or in pots, it doesn’t matter.

My particular needs? I get bloated, anxious, sad and restless in my sleep. Correct me if I’m wrong but I think those things are fairly common, no? You might find my list of medicinal herbs to grow useful then, perhaps.

You take these herbs as teas, the bonus being you get to enjoy fresh tea with no travel miles, no chemicals, no trips to the shops, no packaging and no cost. Brilliant.

You can also use most of these for beauty purposes. You can find out how to use many of them for your face and hair care via my FREE e-book Beauty, Naturally.

Lemon verbena
For calming and bringing on sleep.

For soothing a sore throat.

For aiding digestion. Also darkens hair.

Lemon balm
For reducing, um, gas. And bringing on sleep.

For treating mild depression. It also helps to reduce fever. You can either eat or make a tea out of both the leaves and flowers.

An all-round tea tonic, but also good for helping to heal sprains and bruises and sore breasts. Simply make into a poultissssss, like zis.

Sweet violet
Great for headaches and chesty coughs.

For settling a bloated stomach and calming a nervy mood. Also lightens hair.

For headaches and migraines, insomnia and nervousness.

For aiding digestion, whooping cough and a sore throat. Combined with lavender, it also makes the best toner for acne-prone skin.

Aloe vera
For healing burns, sores, bites or scratches. My friend uses it as her moisturiser.

For improving memory.

For aiding digestion, relieving constipation, freshening breath and relieving PMS. It’s not recommended for pregnant women though.

For cleansing the liver.

Got any others you grow?


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