A herb garden is not only a place of beauty, it’s also a medicine chest, holding remedies to many ailments.
Until the 17th Century, herbs were the principal ingredients of medicinal practice, but since then they’ve been replaced by synthetic products. However some countries, such as India and China, still widely use herbs as medicine.
Many minor ailments can be alleviated using common garden herbs. However, if you’re ill or have a known condition, don’t self-medicate – go to a qualified herbalist or your GP to be treated.
Discover the healing properties of common culinary herbs in your garden.
A tea can be brewed from the flowers and used to ease insomnia. An antispasmodic herb, chamomile is also good for nervous stomach upsets when used in moderation.
When you’re suffering wind or stomach cramps, a cup of fennel seed tea can ease the pain. Put one teaspoon of seed in a cup, pour over boiling water, let it stand, then strain before drinking. Chew fennel seeds after a rich meal to freshen breath and settle the stomach.
Eat two fresh feverfew leaves at the onset of a migraine. Eat them with bread, because they taste quite bitter.
The aniseed-flavoured leaves of French tarragon (Artemisia dranunculus) stimulate digestion and help the body to break down fatty foods that are high in cholesterol.
When eaten regularly, garlic can lower blood fat levels, including cholesterol, and reduce the chances of getting blood clots.
A tea made from hyssop leaves is an excellent tonic if you have a cough or cold, as it’s a gentle decongestant and expectorant. However, avoid it if you’re pregnant.
Try a cup of peppermint tea the next time you have indigestion or feel bloated after a meal. Put a handful of fresh or dried leaves into a mug, pour over boiling water, and allow it to stand for five minutes. Put a lid over the top to stop the steam dissipating the essential oils.
Tea made from fresh rosemary leaves helps stimulate the memory and clear a hangover. Drink in moderation, as too much can be harmful.
Not only is lavender a tonic for the nervous system, it’s also a calming sedative. Add a few drops of lavender oil or a handful of lavender flowers to a bath, or make a bath bag. Wrap lavender sprigs in a piece of muslin, tie it up and hang it under a running tap.
A mild antidepressant, a restorative for the nervous system and a mild sedative, lemon balm can be enjoyed as a tea.
When dried, the bright orange-yellow flowers of Californian poppies can be made into a calming tea, which, like chamomile, can help combat insomnia.