Learn how to grow your own herbal pharmacy.
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In the old days, it was perfectly normal for Grandma to "doctor herself" with a little something from the garden. Herbal remedies are all the rage again these days, and like Grandma, you can turn to your garden for ingredients for natural remedies — from teas to soothing baths.
When you're planning a medicine garden, make sure to shop with reputable suppliers and buy seeds or starter plants that are labeled by both genus and species, not just with a common name. Any herb or natural concoction should be used in moderation and for a limited time; natural does not automatically mean mild, and overdose is possible. Here, we tell you what plants are commonly used to treat which ailments, but you'll need professional help to learn how to harvest and process the herbs; consult a well-respected herbalist. And of course, check with your doctor before you start taking anything you grow.
Here is a collection of easy-to-grow perennials that will keep you supplied with natural remedies for years to come.
- Echinacea or purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). The almost daisylike, rosy-purple flowers of this native woodland and prairie perennial appear atop three-foot stems from mid-summer to early fall, but medicinally they're usually just for show. Instead, it's the creeping rootstock that is popularly used to treat colds and flu. It can be put into capsules or made into a tea. E. angustifolia is considered a more potent form. Sow seeds in fall in deep, well-worked soil in a mostly sunny location.
Photo of herb garden by Susan L. Hamilton