Fiona is a qualified herbalist and aromatherapist. She has twenty years' experience in the field and wants to share that knowledge.
Herbs for Health: Pretty and Practical
I have always been a firm believer in alternative medicine and have, for years, been growing my own herbs in order to check out their healing properties. I love growing herbs—they're pretty, useful and usually quite easy to grow.
You can choose to have a formal herb garden or simply dot the herbs you like around the garden. Don't have a garden? A lot of herbs do very well on a sunny patio or kitchen windowsill. They'll grow almost anywhere.
Wherever you put your herbs, just remember to pick them often - this encourages new growth. It is best, therefore, to try to keep them near the kitchen door, within easy reach for cooking and natural healing.
If you pick too much of a herb, you can always dry it out for use later.
Sunny Nasturtiums Are Natural Antibiotics
Nasturtiums are on of my favorite herbs. These cheerful, little annuals originated in South America. They are feisty and easy to grow - in fact, given the right conditions, they take over. They do no do well in rich soil so can grow just about anywhere.
Nasturtiums have bright little flowers that look great in informal little arrangements. The leaves and flowers are edible and make a great addition to salads. The leaves have a peppery flavor and can stand in for rocket in a salad.
Medicinally, nasturtiums have a high quantity of Vitamin C and are a natural antibiotic. Take a leaf an hour at the onset of colds and flu to reduce the severity of them. (On a lighter note, my brother is convinced that nasturtiums caused his chickenpox - when he was a little boy, my mom made him eat a nasturtium leaf when he was sick and the next day chickenpox broke out.)
Nasturtiums have also been used for blood and kidney complaints.
Give these cheerful little fellows a sunny spot in your garden and they'll reward you for months.
Quick Poll on Natural Herbal Remedies
Lavender is One of the Best Herbs for Health
Lavender is one of the most useful herbs around. Again, an easy and hardy herb, lavender is a perennial favorite. There are many different varieties so use a traditional lavender if taking internally.
Lavender is a beautiful plant to have in your garden - it has pretty a pretty leaf and can form a large bush. The various different varieties mean that you can have lavender with different color flowers and even different leaves. It makes a great border plant and can be used as a windbreak as well. Lavender loves a sunny spot and once established, needs only to be clipped in order to maintain it.
Lavender makes an excellent cut or dried flower. Use the dried flowers and leaves in potpourri or to scent a closet. They will also help to keep fishmoths at bay.
Medicinally, Lavender is natures multitool. It is a natural antiseptic.
Lavender tea is very soothing and can be used to mitigate stress, depression, and anxiety. It also has great anti-bacterial properties and, if taken at the first sign of flu, can reduce the severity of symptoms. It can help to bring down a fever. Note, though, if it is a high fever, check with your doctor.
Lavender tea can also be a great addition to your bathwater and will delicately scent the water and relax your body. It helps with skin complaints as well and can help soothe reddened or heated skin.
Lavender essential oil is one oil no medicine cabinet can be without. As with all essential oils, it cannot be taken internally but, unlike other oils, it can be applied to the skin neat. Lavender oil can help with skin blemishes, minor scratches, and itchiness.
Lavender oil, applied to the temples, can help soothe a headache. Sprinkle some on your pillow or burn some in an aromatherapy burner to help you sleep at night.
Rosemary for Memory
Rosemary is a staple in many kitchen gardens and it is an extremely useful herb. Ancient Roman soldiers used to tuck a sprig of Rosemary behind their ears in order to remain alert during battles. Rosemary tea is great for those studying - it keeps them alert and helps to lower stress. Just don't take just before bedtime. It is also great for stimulating circulation - mix with a carrier oil and some coarse salt and use as a body scrub.
Rosemary tea can also be used as a rinse for dark hair - it brings out the tones in brown hair and helps to maintain condition.
In terms of cooking, rosemary is very popular. It helps to cut down the fat in foods. It does, however, have a very strong flavor so you should use it sparingly.
This little plant is almost impossible to kill. Here we call it a "vygie" or succulent. It's very undemanding, can survive on little water and isn't fussy about soil so if you have a rocky patch that you can't seem to fill, put in some bulbinella. The bonus is that it also has small delicate little flowers.
As far as medicinal properties go, this is a gardener's dream. Not a herb to be taken internally, you use the leaves in much the same way as you use aloe leaves. Simply break off a leaf and squeeze the sap out of it. Use for insect bites, minor scratches (keep on hand when pruning roses), and minor skin complaints. The sap is quite sticky but it works like a dream. Leave on for a few minutes and then rinse off.
You can also use the sap in an ointment. To get enough sap, You will need a piece of muslin or cheesecloth and a bit of patience. Wrap the washed leaves in the cloth and squeeze over a bowl to get out as much sap as possible. (Incidentally, this is great for your hands.)
Add to a base aqueous cream—around 25% concentration and mix well. I usually also add a few drops of Sandalwood oil—a great fixative and some lavender oil to make it smell nicer. You could also add a capsule of Vitamin E oil as a preservative. (I don't normally do this but I do find that you then have to be careful not to leave the cream in the sun as it can go off after a few weeks.)
Rose Scented Geranium Up Close
Rose Scented Geranium
Of all the various Geranium species, only the Rose-Scented Geranium is edible, so make sure that you have the right species before you use it internally.
This useful herb makes a great tasting tea that is very relaxing and great for headaches. It is also useful for alleviating digestive complaints.
All you need is one thumb-length sprig in one cup of boiling water to make a soothing tea. Allow to steep for 5 minutes, strain and serve. You can sweeten with honey if necessary.
The fresh leaves can be crushed and the sap spread over your skin in order to repel insects.
The essential oil is very useful for dry skin and eczema—place around 3 drops into 50ml of good aqueous cream and apply twice daily.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2015 Fiona
What Herbs do you Use at Home?
Fiona (author) from South Africa on October 14, 2015:
No, I had't but I just looked it up - looks interesting.
bguillemot on October 08, 2015:
Do you heard about gemmotherapy?
Fiona (author) from South Africa on May 13, 2015:
Hi Poetryman, that they are. I love them.
poetryman6969 on May 13, 2015:
I don't believe I have ever heard so many good things said about Nasturtiums. And they are easy to grow too!