Katherine Drovdahl MH CR CEIT DipHIR- Oregon

Did you know that you can plant an herb garden for your beloved furry and feathered friends? Did you know that many herbs are easy to cultivate in a garden bed or even containers on an apartment balcony? You may already be knowingly (or unknowingly!) growing several of them. If you have never gardened before or you are looking for a way to cut some (a lot!) of the work in gardening, consider Square Foot Gardening.

 

Growing your own herbs gives you some freedoms. It gives you the freedom to choose organic (non-toxic) methods of raising them. It gives you the freedom to have access to them whenever you need them. It also gives you the satisfaction and security of knowing that you can indeed raise, and keep on hand, some of the herbs you may want or need in the care of your creatures (or humans).

 

Now what might one grow? Garlic of course is one plant I highly recommend. I use it a lot in situations involving viral or bacterial origins. But, do you know how to use it safely and in correct doses and timing for your animal(s) of choice? A few other herbs that I like to keep handy in my gardens include cayenne, comfrey, thyme, rosemary, lavender, stinging nettle, wormwood, carrots, white onions, apples and of course many, many more. All of these are easy to use with your creatures and all of them are easy to grow. Even cayenne can grow in cooler climates with a few ‘microclimate’ gardening tricks.

I have used lavender leaves and stems numerous times, infused in olive oil and wiped onto infected areas copiously to watch infected areas cleanse and begin to repair themselves in as fast as a day in people, dogs, goats and horses.

 

I have an entire chapter in my 28 chapter book covering over 60 herbs that you can grow in your garden. I discuss what they are, why you may want to include them, information on harvesting some of them as well as helpful hints on growing. Another chapter covers dosing so you know how much your hen, rabbit, dog, cat, pig, horse, ox, goat, alpaca or other creature will need for their situation. The book also covers foundational information that teaches you why you are doing what you are doing and gives you confidence in whole herb and essential oil use in your creatures. All body systems and every stage of your creature’s lifecycle are covered in layman’s terms. “The Accessible Pet, Equine and Livestock Herbal” is available through Christopher Publications.

 

Katherine Drovdahl is a Master Herbalist graduate of The School of Natural Healing. She is also a Certified Reflexologist, a Diplomate of Holistic Iridology, Certified Equine Iridology Technician and is Internationally Certified in Aromatherapy. She is an author, writes articles, does wellness consultations for people, pets and livestock (www.firmeadowllc.com) and is a conference speaker. She and her beloved husband tend to their alternatively raised food and medicinal herb gardens, their fjord horses, dairy goats, poultry, alpacas and farm pets on their small Oregon farm.

October 10th, 2012Dandelion

by Yvonne L. Salcido MH

Dandelion or Taraxacum officinale by its botanical name is an amazing plant. Although today it is seen as a noxious weed, most herbalists know it as a spring tonic and much more. This plant has so many benefits that it is considered one of the top four foods to have in your diet and should be incorporated into the diet year round if possible. Those of you that live in a temperate climate should take advantage of the wonderful health benefits of this plant!

  •     Dandelion has the highest amount of beta- carotene (which the liver converts to vitamin A) of any leafy green vegetable! Vitamin A is a wonderful antioxidant which promotes wound healing and aids in fighting infection. It is also very beneficial for eye health, especially for improved night vision. This antioxidant is important in fighting cancer since it helps cells to reproduce normally.
  •     High in pectin and vitamin C which rid the body of heavy metals. This attributes to the plant being known as a great blood purifier.  Vitamin C also aids in reducing the stress hormone cortisol and is another powerful antioxidant.
  •     High content of vitamin K, which aids in blood clotting and also glycogen formation to help the body meet the energy needs of exercise. It helps the liver function properly and is an important vitamin to increase vitality and the longevity of life.
  •     Contains vitamin D, an important aid in the assimilation of the phosphorus that is required in bone formation. Vitamin D enhances the immune system and also contributes to blood cell formation and cell reproduction.
  •     Vitamin E is one of the phytonutrients in dandelion. Vitamin E is essential in the functioning of cellular respiration that takes place in the muscles. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant! Studies have shown that it reduces the risk of heart attack and it protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation.
  •     B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, and folic acid). These B’s are considered the anti-stress vitamins! They are essential in making neurotransmitters. If someone is deficient in B vitamins they will be depressed.
  •     Minerals, just to name a few. Calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, choline.
  •     Dandelions also have inulin which is wonderful in balancing blood sugar levels, phytochemicals that help with digestive problems, are a great diuretic and anti-spasmodic, are highly anti-fungal, and protects and strengthens the liver.

Dandelion is one of my favorite plants and it tastes great. Use it in salads, on a sandwich for an extra bite or throw a handful in some fresh vegetable juice.  A wonderful beverage with dandelion is the Aroma Express by Dr. Christopher. The combination of herbs in this formula is extremely nutritive, relaxing, and soothing. It is a great beverage for cold winter nights that will boost your immune system too!

When picking your own dandelions make sure they have not been sprayed or buy organic at the health food store!

Yvonne Lunt Salcido is a Student Advisor for and a Master Herbalist Graduate of the School of Natural Healing. She is a current student at Utah Valley University majoring in Health and Wellness Education.


Printable Version: http://www.herballegacy.com/Dandelion.pdf

By: Doreen Spackman MH

 

Each season has its beauties. As we emerge from winter, I love watching the trees as they start budding and the spring flowers blossoming purple, yellow, pink and white, in the warm sunshine! I wonder, does it get any better than this? Then everything starts turning green and YES! Woo Hoo! It’s my favorite time of year! It’s time to garden. Maybe it reminds me of being young and playing in the dirt, I don’t think anyone grows out of that. My grandparents are 86 and 95 and they still love getting out and playing in their garden. I think you would agree that planting a seed and watching it grow is fascinating, but you also get to enjoy the wonderful flavors that can only come from garden fresh produce. Whether it’s a cucumber, tomato, freshly picked lettuce, or the carrot you just pulled from the earth, your taste buds will wonder what in the world you were eating all winter long. There is no comparison when it comes to flavor and your body will enjoy better nutrition.

 

“How does your garden grow?” There are many ways to garden depending on your area and what you have available to you. It could be a big farm or community garden, your rooftop or pots on the patio. It doesn’t matter how big or little the important thing is to do it. If you need help knowing which varieties grow best in your area look in the phone book for or Google a University Extension office, in Utah it is the Utah State University extension office http://extension.usu.edu/. They have a huge amount of information and are always helpful.

 

A few important things to keep in mind-
1.       Keep the garden close to your house.
2.       Make sure the area will get plenty of sunshine.
3.       Check your garden before you go to the store-what you are going to the store for          is probably growing in your garden.
4.       When your radishes are done (they only take 30 days) replant that space with something else.

 

What’s your favorite vegetable/fruit or food to grow? I love heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers (we eat them whole), experimenting with different types of carrots and lettuce, of course, the orange, yellow and red sweet peppers are so fun! Beets, spaghetti squash, beans and peas. I think we should have a table and chairs out in the garden to enjoy eating and visiting. Actually, the grand kids and I eat all their favorites (sun gold tomatoes and peas) along with new items from the garden, while we sit on the grass and talk.

 

Whether you garden for fun or because you want more flavor, quality, or nutrients, you are in a win-win situation. The information on the health benefits of fruits and vegetables is “health in every bite.” As time goes on the studies are always finding more and more nutrients and benefits of these fresh foods. They are anti-cancerous, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant so they help prevent a lot of the way too common problems from eating the standard American diet. Name the vitamin, mineral, or nutrient you need and you can get all of them through these wonderful wholesome foods. Let your body take advantage of the easily assimilated nutrients of garden fresh produce and let your taste buds savor the season! Plant a variety of food and enjoy your garden!

 

Have a Happy and Healthy Day!

Doreen Spackman is a Master Herbalist graduate and employee of the School of Natural Healing. Doreen enjoys helping others learn the benefits of eating well and taking care of their health with herbs. 

 By Jo Francks M.H.
Horseradish has been proclaimed the 2011 Herb of the Year by the International Herb Association and is one of the herbs on the School of Natural Healings 100 Herb List.
Dr. Christopher recommended horseradish as a reliable remedy for sinus infections.  Additionally, horseradish has been shown in laboratory tests to be antibiotic and active against a variety of bacteria. It has a high sulphur content, which may contribute to its antibiotic properties as well.

In the book Fresh Vegetable and Fruit Juices by N.W. Walker, it says this about horseradish:

We do not use the juice of horseradish, its ethers are quite potent and powerful enough when the horseradish is finely ground or triturated (pulverized).  The effect of taking one half a teaspoonful of the triturated (pulverized) horseradish will leave an indelible impression on the memory and a dissolving reaction on the mucus in the sinus cavities.            

Walker recommends mixing the horseradish pulp immediately with lemon juice and using a half teaspoon twice a day between meals to dissolve mucus in the sinus cavities and throughout the body.  This procedure has been followed for weeks or months if necessary, until the horseradish sauce could be eaten without any sensation resulting from it.  It then indicated the practically complete dissolution of the mucus.

Horseradish can also be used as a poultice for rheumatic and arthritic conditions. The historical herbalist Culpepper said,  “If Bruised and laid to a part grieved with the sciatica, gout, joint-ache or hard swellings of the spleen and liver, it doth wonderfully help them all.”

In Dr. Christopher’s book The School of Natural Healing he says:

Horseradish is one of the most prolific stimulant herbs there is, especially to the digestive organs (dried root), kidneys, skin and circulation.  It will give pleasant warmth in the stomach, relieves the gall ducts, stimulate alvine (intestinal) action, and increase the flow of urine.  Caution: do not use this herb during pregnancy.

To cultivate horseradish all you need is a piece of the root about an inch long and as big around as a pencil.  Plant about an inch deep in a place where it can grow year after year.

February 17th, 2010Mints

By Dr. James A. Duke in The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods

To most people, “mint” means spearmint, peppermint, and fresh flavors that are associated with mouthwash or gum.  Actually, there are hundreds of plants in the mint family – I have over 70 of them in my garden alone.  Many of them are herbs that you’d recognize from your spice cabinet, such as basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, lavender, sage, and lemon balm.

All these spices are known for the great flavor they impart to foods, but they can do much more for your health.  Perhaps the most exciting breakthrough for the mint family is in the field of Alzheimer’s research.

Nutrient Nuts and Bolts: Members of the mint family, with their pleasant taste and aroma, are traditional stomach soothers, often in tea form.  Many of them also contain central nervous system stimulants, which work rather like caffeine, so they are nice alternatives to traditional coffee or tea.  These are the “uppers,” which include peppermint and spearmint.  Some mints, such as lemon balm and lavender, are actually “downers,” with sedative effects.  They’re also loaded with healthy-heart antioxidant compounds.

Perhaps the most exciting thing about the mint family is that most of its members contain at least a half dozen compounds that prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine.  Acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter that carries messages from one synapse to another in your brain.  When you’re deficient in this substance, the messages have a harder time getting through.  Keeping those connections strong may help us stay mentally sharp as we grow older, and adding more of the mint family to your diet just may be one of the keys to doing that.

How to Get More: The mind is certainly not something to trifle with, which is why I make mint tea part of my everyday routine.  By including a variety of mints (I often use rosemary, peppermint, and thyme), you can create an infusion with more than a dozen acetylcholine-preserving compounds.

Making the Most of Them: People often ask me about my recipe for mint tea, and I have to admit that I don’t really have one.  I generally take a pinch of this and a pinch of that, pour boiling water over it, and let it steep for 10 to 20 minutes before drinking it.  Over time, you’ll find that you like some flavors more than others, in which case you can add more of the mints you enjoy and less of the ones you don’t.  I have been known to make mint teas (and liqueurs) with a mixture of all the dozens of good-tasting mints in my garden.

Other Eating Tips: Another option for getting the benefits of fresh mint is to chop the leaves and add them to salads.  And, of course, many members of the mint family are ideal seasonings for a variety of healthful dishes.  You can put them into a muslin bag and steep them in your bath, since most of the acetylcholine-sparing compounds are transdermal, meaning they will go through the skin.

Printable Version: http://www.herballegacy.com/Mints.pdf

© Copyright 2010 Herbal Legacy.  All rights reserved.  No reposting or reproduction of any kind without written consent is allowed.

February 10th, 2010Bulbs

By Dr. James A. Duke in The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods

I usually don’t play favorites, but when it comes to foods, garlic tops my list of healers.  Though a recent high-profile study called its cholesterol-lowering ability into question, it still has enough heart-protective benefits to rank high on my list.  It has other great qualities as well, including immunity-boosting and antiseptic properties.  Onions share many of the properties and healthful benefits of garlic, so they also deserve a mention here.  And in my Farmacy, I grow a nice batch of ramps, members of the garlic/onion family that you won’t find in many supermarkets (unless it’s ramp festival time in West Virginia and Ohio).  All of these plants contain the very important compound alliin, which converts to the super-medicinal allicin.

Nutrient Nuts and Bolts: When it comes to the heart, you can thank garlic’s many sulfur compounds, including diallyl disulfide, which prevent clotting and allow for smooth blood flow.  Of course, garlic also contains over a dozen immunity-boosting compounds that can fight off colds and other infections, maybe even more effectively than popular herbs like echinacea.  Recent research has also shown that several compounds in garlic can prevent cellular changes within the body that lead to cancer.

Onions offer many of the same sulfur compounds as garlic, but they bring even more to the table with their high amounts of flavonoids, specifically quercetin.  This flavonoid has been shown in studies to reduce platelet clumping and even prevent some forms of cancer.  So far, there is no better food source of quercetin than onion skins.

How to Get More: The other advantage of garlic and onions is just how easy they are to incorporate into your menus.  I add both to virtually all my soups and stews.  And when it comes to salads, just about the only dressing you’ll see me use is vinegar and oil mixed with fresh garlic and fresh diced onion, often with hot sauce or diced hot pepper.  That mixture alone has hundreds of healthful compounds.  Sometimes I even roast garlic and put it on toast for breakfast.

Making the Most of Them: Now I know what you’re thinking: “But Dr. Duke, what about the smell?”  Well, as much as it pains me to say it, studies have shown time and again that the more garlic stinks, the better it works. 
That’s why I often use it raw in salads or even eat whole cloves of the stuff if I don’t have anything social going on that day.

This isn’t to say that you can’t get benefits from cooked garlic; you can.  But you lose 40 percent of the original potency after garlic is cooked for 10 minutes, and you lose much more after 20 – but you never lose it all.  So, if you’re making a soup or stew, it might be a good idea to wait until near the end of the cooking time to add garlic.  Green tea, parsley, and coriander all have a unique ability to partially quell the smell, so you may want to consider brewing green tea and garlic together or adding parsley to a garlicky salad.  Or if you have a new potential client or lover or relative coming over, eat some parsley or coriander and drink some green tea quick!

Other Eating Tips: If you’re going for full effect and eating whole cloves of garlic, it’s important that you nick the surface of a clove first; that is, don’t swallow it intact.  I thought that was the way to go until my garlicologist, Larry Lawson, PhD, told me the skin should be broken before garlic enters the GI tract to get its benefits.  This ensures that the medicinal compounds of the bulb are released and will begin working more quickly in the body.

Now back to onions for a minute.  In one of the funny quirks of nature, most of the helpful flavonoids, such as quercetin, are found in the skin of the onion.  That’s why I always put the skins in a mesh bag and steep it in soups and stews when I’m making them.  Just remove the bag before serving.

© Copyright 2010 Herbal Legacy.  All rights reserved.  No reposting or reproduction of any kind without written consent is allowed.

January 27th, 2010Wheatgrass

Dr. John R. Christopher

Most of us don’t think of wheat, the staff of life and the staple of many Westerner’s diets, as a healing herb. The dried grain in itself provides optimal nourishment as a basic food – it contains protein, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates for energy. But what turns it into a powerful healer is germination: grow wheatgrass and you have an ultimate healer.
 
Dr. Ann Wigmore was the first to popularize wheatgrass for healing. She noted that wheatgrass has live minerals, live vitamins, and live trace elements at a pH very close to that of human blood.
 
Wheatgrass is 70% chlorophyll. The chemical structure of chlorophyll is similar to that of the hemoglobin of the blood.  Chlorophyll purifies and builds the blood.  It also arrests the growth of unfriendly bacteria, assisting the body in attaining optimal health.
 
Wheatgrass is high in vitamins A, C, and the B vitamins. It contains minerals and trace elements necessary to your body. It is rich in calcium, phosphorus and magnesium in just the right proportions for optimal calcium assimilation (you can’t absorb calcium well unless these three elements are in correct proportion). It also contains sodium, potassium, sulfur, iron, cobalt and zinc. It is loaded with enzymes, which will create youth and health for you. It contains all the essential amino acids, which is great news for the pure vegetarian who is trying to follow Dr. Christopher’s nutritional guidelines.
 
Wheatgrass helps detoxify your body by breaking up impacted matter in the colon. It helps fight infection throughout your system and builds your immune system. It contains lecithin, which will help break down fats in the lymphatic system and feeds the heart. In experiments with anemic animals, their blood count returned to normal after four to five days of receiving chlorophyll.
 
Wheatgrass is entirely nontoxic. It can be used internally or topically without fear of side-effects. Used in conjunction with the Christopher Cleansing Program it can do much as a tonic aid toward relieving pain and suffering of so-called incurable diseases.
 
You can purchase flats of wheatgrass at your local health-food store, or you can grow your own.  Fill a nursery flat with a few inches of soil, making sure it is nice and even. Moisten the soil evenly. Then soak 2 cups of hard red winter wheat overnight. Place on soil in a single layer, leaving no empty spots. Cover with a half-inch of soil. Keep moist; in a few days you’ll have beautiful wheatgrass four to six inches high, which is ready to harvest. Place by a window or outside on a mild day to green up.
 
Cut bundles of this wheatgrass, rinse it well, and juice it in a slow, manual wheatgrass juicer. If you use a blender or highspeed juicer, you can oxidize important lifegiving elements. Drink two ounces night and morning by swishing each mouthful to mix the saliva with the wheatgrass juice. You may experience a “gag reflex” because the wheatgrass juice is so concentrated, but persevere, and you’ll begin to see a miraculous increase in energy and vitality from taking daily wheatgrass juice.
 
Be sure to replant in time so that you’ll have a constant source of fresh wheatgrass.
 
Dr. Christopher recommended this schedule: when you get up in the morning, take a drink of 1 quart warm water, 2 tablespoons unsulphured molasses, and the juice of ½ lemon to clear any leftover digestive liquids from the stomach. In a half hour, take your two ounces of wheatgrass juice. This can be taken straight or diluted half and half with distilled water.
 
Source: School of Natural Healing 100-herb syllabus
 
For a printable version of this article please visit:
 
http://www.herballegacy.com/Wheatgrass1.pdf

© Copyright 2010 Herbal Legacy.  All rights reserved.  No reposting or reproduction of any kind without written consent is allowed.

December 23rd, 2009Peppermint Part II

by Dr. John R. Christopher

Cultivation, Collection, Preparation

Any humus, moist soil will support the growth of Peppermint admirably. When you plant it, you should be sure to contain it if you don’t want it to overtake the rest of your garden. Be sure that you are planting Peppermint starts if that is what you want. Peppermint is a different plant from spearmint. It has a dark-green, smooth leaf, while spearmint is hairy. When you chew Peppermint, it gives a cool feeling to the mouth, while spearmint does not.

The usual method of Peppermint culture in America is to dig runners in the early spring and lay them in shallow trenches, 3 feet apart in well-prepared soil. The growing crop is kept well-cultivated and absolutely free from weeds and in the summer when the plant is in full bloom, the mint is cut by hand and distilled. A part of the exhausted herb is dried and used for cattle food, for which it possesses considerable value. The rest is cut and composted and eventually plowed into the ground as fertilizer.

Liberal manuring can make the difference between a mediocre crop and a good one. Peppermint is said to require, per acre, 84 lbs. of nitrogen, 37 lbs. of phosphoric acid, and 139 lbs. of potash. Ground bone and lime do not seem to be of much benefit. Good, well-rotted compost should supply most of the needed elements.

Peppermint requires frequent irrigation if the soil does not remain moist on its own. It is important to keep the soil constantly moist though well-drained. Absorption of water makes the shoots more tender, thus facilitating cutting, and causes a large quantity of green matter to be produced.

Few pests trouble Peppermint, although crickets, grasshoppers and caterpillars may do some damage.

The herb is cut just before flowering. Sometimes a second crop can be obtained, much like hay. It should be carried out on a dry, sunny day, in the late morning when all traces of dew have disappeared. In many places, the herb lies on the ground for a time in small bundles, raked into heaps.

For companion planting, Peppermint planted or strewn between cabbages protects them from the white cabbage butterfly. Peppermint growing with chamomile will be hindered in its oil production, while the chamomile itself benefits from this association and will have higher oil content. Peppermint, if planted with stinging nettle, will have nearly double the oil content.

In the home garden, pick the plant’s tops just before the flowers burst open. Dry it quickly in a warm, airy place out of direct sun. When it is completely dry, crumble it and store it in a cool, dry, airtight place. Be sure to cap it well each time you remove some of the herb for use.

When you make the tea, never boil it. Add boiling water to the crushed herb, lid well, and allow it to steep for three to five minutes. The herbs medicine and flavor reside in its volatile oils, which will escape if the herb is boiled.

© Copyright 2009 Herbal Legacy.  All rights reserved.  No reposting or reproduction of any kind without written consent is allowed.

September 2nd, 2009Harvesting and Storing Herbs

by James A. Duke, Ph.D.
The Green Pharmacy

Okay, so you’ve got a big peppermint patch, or whatever, growing in your garden or on your windowsill.  Now what?

First you must harvest your herbs.  You can snip off leaves and use them as needed.  Taking a cue from the American Indians, the romantics among us like to thank the herb for serving us and apologize for mutilating it.

Down in Panama and Peru, I listened as Indian shamans sang long chants to the herbs they were about to harvest, often while facing the East.  When I’m not in a hurry, I remember that the plants, too, have lives, and that their lives sustain ours.

In fact, the more we clip the leaves of medicinal plants, the more medicinal they become.  This makes sense botanically because herbs’ medicinal constituents are basically part of the plant’s self-protection system.  Harvesting the leaves makes the plant respond as if it’s under attack (which it is), so it produces more of what protects it.  Studies have shown that infections, insect infestations and leaf-plucking, among other attacks on the plant, increase the levels of some of the same chemicals that we view as medicines.

Collection Times

Although some herbalists argue for harvesting herbs early in the morning while there is still dew on them, I disagree.  That dilutes the herb with water, meaning that it has proportionately more water and less chemical until it’s dried.  In my view, you get the greatest concentration of plant chemicals and the least water when you collect leaves during a hot, dry day, but before the leaves have wilted.

Roots are best collected in spring or fall.  Bark may be collected in spring, especially if the compounds you seek are in the living bark.  If you’re collecting seeds for food, I recommend that you get them before they have dried out and hardened.  But if you’re harvesting them to plant next year rather than to use immediately, you may want to wait until they’ve dried out.

Feel free to use herbs fresh, especially in cooking.  Fresh culinary herbs and spices almost always taste best.  You can also freeze them, dry them or use them to make tinctures.  (When harvesting fresh culinary herbs, I generally use a plastic bag to help retain the moisture.)

Preserving the Goods

If you intend to preserve your herbs for future use, it’s cheaper to dry them.  Collect them in a brown paper bag rather than a plastic bag, and write the name of the plant and the collection date on the outside of the bag.

If you don’t stuff it too lightly, many herbs can be dried right in the bag.  I always make a run through my herb garden with paper bags before the last killing frost, collecting herbs for my winter medicines, soups and teas.

Check your brown-bagged herbs after about a week, and if they are not clearly drying – becoming papery and crumbly – spread them out on newspapers or clean wood or screen in a dry, shaded area so that they can dry out before mildew attacks.

When it comes to success in drying, a great deal depends on your local weather conditions.  In arid weather, herbs may dry too rapidly, especially in direct sunlight.  In humid and especially in foggy weather, you may have to apply heat by baking the herbs in an oven to get the moisture out.

Once dried, herbs can be kept in paper bags or stuffed into plastic bags.  You can also use glass jars with lids.

Light, heat and oxygen are the enemies of herb potency, so store your herbs in a cool, dark place, like a cellar or cupboard far from any heat source.  To minimize the oxygen around stored herbs, fill your containers as full as possible and move the herbs to smaller containers as you use them.

August 26th, 2009Growing an Herb Garden

by James A. Duke, Ph.D.  – The Green Pharmacy

Growing an Outdoor Herb Garden

In my Herbal Vineyard, I have some 200 species of herbs, most of them medicinal.  During the growing season, one of my great pleasures in life is to stroll the grounds and check on all the plants.

Growing and using these herbs is one of the most healthful activities I engage in, and I heartily recommend it.  No matter what you grow, gardening is a therapeutic, self-empowering hobby.

If you do have garden space, here are the perennial medicinal herbs that I recommend.

Chasteberry: A perennial flowering shrub, this is a great herb for treating women’s problems.

Goldenseal: An antibiotic herb, goldenseal grows best when planted in a shady area.

Lemon balm: Also known as melissa, this weedy antiviral mint has sedative properties.  Although it sometimes looks like it has died away, it always comes back.

Mountain mint: An insect-repelling herb that should be more popular among gardeners than it is.

Oregano: Another weedy mint – a great source of antioxidants.

Self-heal: The reputation of this mint as a panacea is only slightly exaggerated.

Spearmint: This herb is about as good as peppermint for settling the stomach.

St. John’s Wort: Simply the best herbal treatment for depression.

Tansy: This herb contains some of the same anti-migraine compounds as feverfew.

Valerian: The roots contain a great anxiety-relieving sedative.  But be warned – the tea smells like dirty gym socks.

Wild yam: Many herbalists recommend this herb for women’s reproductive health.

Willow: The willow tree’s easy-peeling bark contains the herbal version of aspirin.


Growing an Indoor Herb Garden

I love my Herbal Vineyard, but you don’t need an estate – or even a yard – to grow medicinal herbs.  All you need is a kitchen windowsill where you can grow a potted aloe plant – your instant, herbal emergency kit in case of accidental burns.

There are many other herbs that you can raise on a windowsill or on your back porch.  If you’re a city dweller, you can find space in a roof garden, courtyard, balcony or fire escape.  Quite a few medicinal-culinary species that are native to semi-arid climates will also flourish on sunny kitchen windowsills.  Here are some to consider.

Basil: This insect-repelling herb is recommended for treating bad breath and headache.

Chives: Along with their cousins garlic, leeks and onions, chives help prevent cancer and treat high blood pressure.

Dill: This herb is deservedly famous as a remedy for colic and gas.

Fennel: This herb is good for treating upset stomach and indigestion.

Hyssop: Mentioned in the Bible, hyssop contains several antiviral compounds and is useful in treating herpes. (It’s also under review as an AIDS therapy.)

Lavender: Some varieties of this lovely herb are loaded with sedative compounds that can penetrate the skin.  Toss a handful into your bathwater if you want a nice-smelling way to relax.

Parsley: Best known as a great source of chlorophyll for combating bad breath, parsley is rich in zinc, which is good for men’s reproductive health.

Peppermint: This a major source of cooling, soothing, stomach-settling menthol.

Rosemary: Rich in antioxidants, this tasty culinary spice may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Sage: Sage shares much of the medicinal potential of rosemary.

Savory: Europeans add this herb to bean dishes to reduce flatulence.

Thyme: This is one of the best sources of thymol, an antiseptic, stomach-soothing compound that helps prevent the blood clots that cause heart attack.


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