This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
Starting your own medicinal garden, or simply growing a few medicinal plants, is a great way to have treatments on hand, and potentially save expensive trips to the doctor or pharmacy.
Consider this list of the best medicinal plants to grow at home as a great way to get started.
Not only is aloe vera easy to grow, it can easily be grown indoors as well as outdoors. Aloe vera is used as an ingredient in a number of skin care products, but at home it can be used on the skin to treat burns, skin allergies, wounds and cuts and even eczema. In addition to its usefulness in treating skin conditions, aloe vera juice may help to treat constipation, digestive problems and even boost heart health by improving circulation.
Peppermint is one of the world’s oldest medicinal herbs, having been used for centuries. It is primarily used to treat digestive issues, particularly to help with digestion, gas and upset stomachs, but has also been used to soothe headaches, and is enriched with Vitamins A and C. Peppermint helps keep your breath fresh and may be used in cooking too. Peppermint can be grown both outdoors and indoors and is relatively easy to grow.
This perennial American wildflower is a great one to have at home thanks to its antiviral and antibacterial properties, making it a good plant for both internal and topical healing. Echinacea has been shown to speed recovery times from illness, providing relief and stimulation to the immune system, and lessens the severity of cold and flu symptoms. It should be grown in somewhat sandy soil, in an area that gets mostly sun and requires fairly regular watering.
Lemon balm is a relative of mint, with leaves that share a similar scent and large flowers than can be rubbed against the skin to treat animal and mosquito bites, sores, wounds and even herpes. In addition, lemon balm’s nectar can be used to make a juice that can treat everything from fevers, headaches, colds and coughs and upset stomachs, to depression, anxiety and insomnia. Lemon balm needs a fair amount of shade and often blooms late; cutting it back may support regrowth.
Thymol, the active component in thyme, is a strong antiseptic, making it excellent for the treatment of congestion, indigestion or gas and coughs. Although unsubstantiated at this point, thyme has also been suggested to be a possible anti-cancer agent, and it might even help with yeast infections and to regulate blood pressure levels. Thyme grows best from seedlings planted in a sunny spot and does not require too much attention.
Basil is known to treat flatulence and a lack of appetite, and it is also used as treatment for cuts and scrapes, and contains antioxidants that may help fight against cancer. Basil is fairly versatile, and may be grown in both sun and shade, the garden or a container in moist soil.
Sage is another popular herb used in cooking, but it has medicinal properties as well. It is helpful for skin, gum, mouth and throat infections, and aides in helping digestion, relaxing muscles and unblocking menopause. Cuttings from grown sage plants are easier to grow than seeds, and sage requires yearly pruning and regular watering.
Today, lavender is often used as a fragrance and has been shown to help people to relax and be calm. However, lavender has been a useful medicinal herb since ancient times, and has commonly been used to treat burns, bites and most types of rashes, itching or swelling. Lavender should not be consumed by pregnant or nursing women and small children. It is a pretty resilient plant, able to handle a lot of sun, and does not require particularly wet soil.
Comfrey is not a plant that should be consumed, whether on its own or as a tea, but it contains allantoin, a chemical that helps the body produce healthy skin by stimulating new and healthy tissue growth. It may be used to help treat burns, cuts and acne, but also deeper issues, including arthritis, sprains, ulcers and even weak bones. It’s best to buy comfrey since it requires a complicated and elongated germination process, but it is pretty easy to maintain with regular watering.
Marigold (or pot marigold) is best known for its ability to treat skin conditions, including insect bites, sunburn, acne, wounds and stings. Not only does marigold help by keeping an infected area clean and improving blood flow, it also acts as an anti-inflammatory, reducing pain and swelling. In addition to skin treatments, marigold helps to treat fevers, hemorrhoids, infections, sore throats and varicose veins. Marigold requires full sun and moist soil, but avoid over-watering it.