Growing Medicinal Herbs
Do you want to grow your own medicinal herbs? Herbs are used for many things these days and in addition to being a great flavouring for foods, there are also herbs that can be used for medicinal purposes. They are often made into teas for drinking to make them easier to consume.
If you want to grow medicinal herbs, you will create a garden the same as you would for flowers or other herbs. Then you just need to know which herbs to plant and how to take care of them. When they are ready, you will then cut them, prepare them and store them for use. So how do you do all of this?
You need to choose which herbs you want to buy and then you can go to a local gardening or supply store and get them to bring home to plant. When planting your herbs, you should be sure to dig a hole for each one and allow enough room for the roots without bending them. Be sure you water them as needed and weed them when needed. The exact care of the herbs will vary according to what type of herb you have.
There are also some that are annuals, biennials and perennials. This will affect the care of the herb and when and how you grow it. When the herb is mature, it is ready for you to cut and prepare for use. You can dry out medicinal herbs the same way you do cooking herbs either by hanging them upside down in bags or by using an oven. Then when the herbs are completely dry you can store them for use.
Medicinal herbs are often used by placing the leaves in water for tea. Again, this may vary according to the type of herb that you are using. So what different types are there and how do you know what to use them for?
Types of Medicinal Herbs
The types of herbs you want depending on what you are planning to use them for. There are many different types and it’s likely you want several different ones. Below is a guide to tell you what different herbs do and to help you in choosing the ones that you want.
Valerian, Passion Flower, Skullcap and Chamomile will all help you get a good night’s sleep.
Sweet Annie, Baikal Skullcap, Barberry, Meadowsweet, Marshmallow, Licorice and Ginger all help with the digestive track and digestion.
Saw Palmetto, Pygeum bark, Horsetail, Pipsissewa, Echinacea and Marshmallow helps with male prostate health. St. John’s Wort helps with emotional well being and concentration. Reishi helps support the immune system and milk thistle helps the liver.
Helonias, Black Cohosh, Chasteberry, Dang gui, Partridge Berry, Angelica, Ginger and Licorice help with women’s health. Hawthorn, fresh Motherwort, fresh Skullcap and fresh Cayenne are used for cardiovascular health. There are even more herbs out there that help your health for you to find out about but these are some to get you started.
Using Medicinal Herbs
We have mentioned how one of the most common ways to use the herbs are to make them into teas so just how do you do this? Well, fresh herbs are best for making teas but if the type of herb is out of season, you can use stored herbs as well. To prepare the tea you need to boil water over the fresh stems, leaves and flowers of the herbs for several minutes.
If you are making one cup, you can place the dried herbs in a cup (about 1 teaspoon of herb) and pour boiling water over it just as you would with another type of tea. You can drink hot or you can allow it to cool if you prefer this way. This method is called an infusion.
However, if you are dealing with a herb’s roots, bark, seeds or other hard parts, you should do a decoction instead. To do a decoction you put one teaspoon of dried herb (or three of fresh) for each cup of tea you want to make. You should use a glass or enamel saucepan. Do not use aluminium. Add your water and bring to a boil. Mix and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes. You should keep it covered while simmering so you do not “burn out” all the essential oils and nutrients. Now you can strain into a cup and enjoy.