Growing Your Own Medicinal Herbs
Steps toward Self-Sufficiency
Having a living and renewable medicine cabinet is something every prepping family should consider having. People have been growing medicinal herbs for thousands of years and many of the medications today are derived from botanicals.
Aspirin, everyone is familiar with aspirin, for example is derived from willow bark (salix). The active ingredient salicin found in the bark is a compound that breaks down to create salicylic acid or in other words aspirin. Aspirin today is typically synthesized, but willow is abundant throughout the world while not considered an herb many people today still harvest willow bark for its pain-relieving compound.
Approximately, 40 percent of prescription drugs on the market today came from plant extracts (www.pbs.org).
Medicinal herbs you grow yourself can help heal and relieve symptoms caused by a variety of ailments. Many medicinal herbs of course can also be used for culinary masterpieces, as well, making herbs a must have for any one prepping for the unknown.
If you were to look in your medicine cabinet right now, you may very well find some of the medications have expired or are close to expiration. What happens if the roads are damaged, the power is out and you simply do not have any means of getting more medicines? The best way to address this situation is to grow your own.
What Can You Grow In Your Backyard Garden or Right on the Window Sill?
Basil: (Ocimum basilicum)
Basil is a good source of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron and the leaves have essential oils that contain potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
Basil can be used to treat loss of appetite, stomach cramps/spasms, intestinal gas, fluid retention, head colds and some even use it to treat insect bites, by rubbing crushed leaves over the bitten area.
The mint leaves contain the active ingredient menthol. The menthol is typically made synthetically today using peppermint or other mint oils.
Spearmint is the natural herb that can be often found growing wild and is easily cultivated in any garden, while peppermint is a hybrid of the spearmint plant. Peppermint is considered the more potent of the two.
Use the bruised leaves or essential oil from the leaves to relieve itching and to relax sore muscles. Inhaling the steam from mint leaves as they steep is often used to open congested sinuses and the upper respiratory tract.
In years past sailors often times used mint leaves and the oils from bruised leaves to freshen water casks stored on the ship for the crews’ use. Mint tea was often prescribed to the sailors to relive stomach upset and to aid in digestion.
Mint is also used as a prevent measure against ulcers of the stomach and is prescribed to treat a range of stomach ailments today. Mint is believed to destroy certain bacteria in the stomach that can cause certain ulcers and other stomach problems.
Parsley: (Petroselinum crispum)
A biennial plant that will return to the garden year after year once it is established.
Parsley is rich in vitamins C, B12, K and vitamin A. Parsley helps promote a strong immune system and many use it to treat the nervous system as well. Parsley in the past has been prescribed to flush out excess fluids from the body and to help support kidney function. Parsley is also known to help reduce blood pressure. Tea from the leaves is used to help with digestion problems.
Many chew on the leaves to control bad breath. Some people find the raw leaves unappealing so it is often times used as a garnish or cooked in with other foods but the raw leaves contain the most health benefits because the cooking process can reduce the potency of the leaves.
Sage: (Salvia officinalis)
The leaves and stems of the sage plant contain antioxidant enzymes, and it is used to treat inflammation and to enhance memory. Sage is also used for treating bronchial asthma.
Some cultures use sage to treat typhoid fever and many use it to treat liver complaints, colds, fevers, sore throat, joint pain and lethargy. Sage is known to be affective against throat infections, dental abscesses, infected gums and mouth ulcers.
Rosemary: (Rosmarinus officinalis)
The herb is considered a natural antibacterial and antiviral. Rosemary is noted for its ability to eliminate harmful bacteria while leaving helpful bacteria undamaged. Rosemary is used to increase blood flow so it is used to help with brain function by increasing blood flow to the brain.
The above listed herbs are just a few that can be grown in virtually any backyard garden or inside the home all year around. Cooks for thousands of years usually had a planter of herbs nearby so all it took was a quick snip to add the fresh herbs to any dish or to use for treatment of virtually any ailment.
Grow the herbs inside in practically any room that receives adequate natural light (at least 4 hours daily). The herbs can be dried and ground up for extended storage, in many cases, but to get the full benefit of medicinal herbs it is recommended you use them in the freshest form possible.
Herbs like you, like it comfortable so the room temperatures should average from 65-70ᵒF. Be careful of letting the plants touch the glass if it gets extremely cold outside because the leaves can become damaged from the cold leaching in through the glass.
Plants will reach/grow toward the sun so you may have to move the plants sometimes to make sure all parts of the plant receive adequate light. Plants will bend toward the sunlight, so it is important that you turn the plants around to keep them growing upright.
Herbs grown indoors can be taken with you if you have to leave for an extended period. Herbs will need regular watering and pruning. Ensure you have an ample supply of seeds on hand to make sure you always have fresh medicinal herbs available. You can also buy seedlings of most any herb at your local garden store.