As the days get longer and the temperatures begin to rise, it has become obvious spring is finally in full swing. This time of year is a favorite of many as it means more time can be spent outside in the garden.
Having a garden is a great way to connect with nature and create something beautiful. With the cost of organic vegetables these days, many are drawn to the idea of growing their own food. This is a wonderful and functional use of a garden, as eating food that you have grown yourself without the use of pesticides or chemicals is satisfying on many levels.
Did you know in addition to growing your own food, you can also grow your own medicine?! Many medicinal herbs are easy to grow and offer a variety of health benefits.
Today I will share 6 of my favorite medicinal herbs that you can grow at home this spring!
1. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm has an uplifting lemony aroma that is beneficial to the body in a number of ways. Native to Europe, this plant from the mint family is now grown all over the world. Its medicinal uses date back before the Middle Ages when it was used to reduce anxiety, promote sleep, and ease gastrointestinal discomfort.
Health Benefits of Lemon Balm
Anxiety and Restless Tension
Lemon balm is a calming nervous system relaxant that helps ease anxiety. It is wonderful for soothing nervous tension and restlessness. It can help ease headaches and palpitations associated with anxiety.
Acting as a mild sedative, lemon balm is known to help promote sleep.
Lemon balm has a carminative effect on the digestive tract. Meaning it helps reduce gas, bloating and abdominal discomfort.
How to Grow Lemon Balm
As Lemon Balm is a tough perennial plant, it is easy to grow.
- Plant in full sun or partial shade.
- Can grow in pretty much any soil types, but well drained clay or sandy loam is best.
- Does best in pots in the summer.
How to Use Lemon Balm
- After harvesting the individual leaves or stalks, Lemon Balm can be dried in a cool dry place.
- The dried leaves can be made into a relaxing tea by steeping 1.5 tsp leaves in a cup of boiled water.
- The fresh leaves can be added to fish or chicken dishes, or added to iced tea in place of lemon slices!
Chamomile is a beautiful daisy like plant that has been used for thousands of years for its calming and anti-inflammatory properties. It has historically been used to treat many conditions such as irritable bowel disease, anxiety, eczema, insomnia and more. Research has shown that Chamomile reduces inflammation, speeds wound healing, reduces muscle spasms, and serves as a mild sedative to help with sleep. The healing properties come from the flowers, which contain volatile oils and bioflavonoids.
Health Benefits of Chamomile
Chamomile acts as a smooth muscle relaxant and anti-spasmodic that can help with menstrual cramping or stomach cramps.
The flavonoids found in Chamomile exert a mild nervous system sedative effect, which can help reduce nervous tension and ease you into sleep.
Chamomile soothes the smooth muscle lining of the digestive tract, which reduce irritable symptoms such as irritable bowel disease, heartburn or diverticular disorders.
Burns and Scrapes
Chamomile oil is effective in treating bad burns. Chamomile is also useful for treating scrapes and cuts due to its anti-bacterial and anti-septic properties
How to Grow Chamomile
- Chamomile is an annual plant and will need to be planted year to year
- It takes about 6 weeks from seed to harvest
- Although it prefers full sun, it can tolerate partial shade.
- Plant in well drained and nutrient rich soil (can also be planted in pots)
- Plant seedlings 6 inches apart
- Water about an inch a week (let completely dry in between)
How to Use Chamomile
- The flowers can be harvested and dried
- The dried flowers make a delicious calming tea – 1-2 tsp of dried herb per cup of water
Often known for its culinary uses, especially in Mediterranean dishes, Rosemary also contains many health benefits that should definitely be taken advantage of. It has traditionally been used to help improve memory, relieve muscle pain, stimulate hair growth and support the circulatory and nervous systems. Research has shown that rosemary has antioxidant and anti-microbial properties. Rosemary is incredibly adaptable to different climates and is one of the easiest herbs to grow!
Health Benefits of Rosemary
Improved Mental Clarity
Rosemary relaxes smooth muscles of capillaries and arteries, thus enhancing blood flow. It increases circulation to the head to improve mental clarity, memory and vision.
Rosmarinic acid found in rosemary is an anti-inflammatory & antioxidant.