Sunday, June 26, 2011

Using Medicinal Herbs From The Garden

I started growing my own medicinal and cooking herbs a few years ago. It's another step in my journey to become more self sufficient and organic.

I am blessed with a lot of medicinal herbs that grow here naturally and I have planted many more. This year I plan to dry many of them for our own use.

Having raised chickens, dogs and cats and hoping to acquire a few goats, I have done a lot more research into using herbs for animal care in the past few years.
One herb that I have always grown and used is thyme. It is by far my favourite. It's main medicinal ingredient, thymol, is an antibiotic and antiseptic. Thymol is also present in a few other herbs, as well. Many years ago, before the discovery of penicillin, researchers were looking into the production of commercial antibiotics based on thymol but this research was discarded when pencillin came along.

I use thyme in everything. We like the flavour and it goes with so many things! It gives food that "can't quit eating it" taste.
I grow quite a lot of herbs for the kitchen but I also grow a lot of medicinal herbs. I usually medicate myself long before I go to see the doctor and I am very stubborn!

I sell a lot of my herb seeds, medicinal and culinary, in my seed store but it changes from year to year, depending on how the plants do in the garden. It is always better to use your own fresh herbs than to buy teas, tinctures or cures made by someone else. The product is stronger when it's fresh and you know what you are getting if you make it yourself. It's also cheaper and a lot more rewarding!

As with all things, herbal medication should be done carefully and in moderation. I like to use herbs as prevention, rather than trying to instantly cure a problem.
Before you begin to delve into herbal self medication or that of your family or animals you should do a lot of research and know the herbs you are using. I have found a few sites that have been very helpful with this. Here is a list that you can also reference:

Molly's Herbals - Natural Care for Animals
Herbnet (An extensive alphabetical list of herbs and their uses)

I am not an herbalist. If you are unsure of what you are doing, perhaps you should consult one before using any natural herbs. Just because they grow in the garden and naturally, does not mean they are safe to use for everyone and in any quantity. A little may do a great job, more may be very harmful. Some herbs can be as harmful as commercial drugs in the wrong hands. After all, most flower gardeners have things growing in their beds like digitalis and castor bean, some of the most poisonous things in nature.

People have asked me why I don't post the herbs that I use and how/why I use them. I am not a herbalist and the use of herbs as medication to relieve and prevent problems is complicated. I do not want to be quoted or said to give advice on the use of medicinal herbs for anyone's person or animals. Please do this research from books written by qualified individuals and/or sites online.

These are some medicinal herbs that I grow. Some I use a lot of, others I have for "just in case" but don't use very often. I hope to do more with some of these in the future. I am hoping that I will have seed for most of these in the seed store this year. Warning: Some of these can be invasive if not controlled! Some are a bit hard to find, such as the heal-all, boneset and motherwort. Others are very commonplace and most people have them growing nearby and just don't know it.

bladder campion
clover, red
evening primrose
Greek valerian
heal all, self heal
plantago major
St. John's wort


Michelle's Green Thumb said...

This year seems to be the year for herbs. The veggies just aren't appreciating the cool weather nor the almost permanent cloud cover.

But I'm very happy with the herbs - I use mine mainly for culinary purposes, which I'm sure leads to medicinal benefits.

I too enjoy harvesting them to dry for use in the winter. I haven't purchased processed herbs from a store in many years & have probably turned into a bit of snob as a result.

My current favourite way to ingest herbs is in my salads. No veggies in my salads these days - just straight up lettuce, greens & about 12 types of herbs! Goes great with homemade vinagrette.

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

Oooo! A salad with herbs in it would be very good indeed. I did briefly consider adding some parsley from the garden to the pickings for today's salad, but didn't.

icebear said...

Herbs in a salad are lovely, particularly parsley and cilantro.
I love valerian for relief from stress and a pleasant break from sleepless nights.

The Japanese Redneck said...

Herbs and plants were all they had in the olden days.

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

You are right! That is all they had and they survived!

Term Papers said...

Hello i want to say that this article is amazing, nice written and include almost all significant info. I would like to see more posts like this.Herbs in a salad are lovely, particularly parsley and cilantro.
I love valerian for relief from stress and a pleasant break from sleepless nights.