Urban Garden Medicine Chest
by Daphne Lambert
Medicinal plants and simple extracts are particularly well-suited to supporting self-healing processes, promoting effective digestion, absorption, metabolism and elimination, and mitigating the effects of acute or chronic stress. In the last century, in the west, we have become dependent on drugs; growing & using herbs is a simple age old alternative. The following is a list of herbs growing in Greencuisine Trusts Urban Garden Project.
Artichoke: Artichoke leaf increases bile production, protects the liver, reduces cholesterol, promotes urination, and stimulates appetite. Artichokes grow well in containers at least 20” deep with large draining holes from either seeds or off shoots.
Bay: Grows well in a large container. The leaves can be picked all year. A herbal tea made using bay can treat digestive disorders.
Borage: The pretty star shaped flowers have prominent black anthers carry quantities of pollen which is very attractive to bees. The leaves and flowers are rich in potassium and calcium & make an excellent tonic & blood cleanser. Easy to grow in containers from seeds, self sows year after year.
Calendula: the mucilage in both the flowers & leaves makes them valuable for soothing wounds. An infusion makes a good antiseptic eye wash. You can grow this annual easily from seed.
Chamomile: Both German & Roman chamomile make a soothing tea which helps with insomnia and aids digestion. Grows well from seed in a pot in a sunny position.
Comfrey: Bruised comfrey leaves or a mash applied to the area around broken bones will soothe and reduce inflammation, helping bones mend. Do not take internally or use on broken skin. Its high mineral content makes it a good composting plant. Grows best in damp places in deep soil from root offsets. We have grown our comfrey in a straw bale bed.
Echinacea: An infusion of the fresh leaves is good for colds and flu. Echinacea has antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial properties. Used to stimulate immune response. Grow in full sun in a tub of well drained soil.
Fennel: An infusion of fennel seeds is a digestive remedy. An infusion of leaves & seeds can increase the flow of milk during breast feeding. Grows tall, likes well drained soil and is self seeding.
Feverfew: A strong infusion in the bath soothes aches and pains. Taken as a tea it is well known for preventing and treating migraines but only take in small quantities. Grows well in a pot in a dry sunny corner.
Heartsease: Add the leaves and flowers to cough syrups to soothe sore throats. Grows easily in pots and containers and readily self seeds.
Lavender: Infuse the flowers in sunflower oil and use as a rub on aching or bruised limbs and stiff joints. Grow in a pot in sandy/limey type soil in full sun.
Lovage: A decoction of the roots can aid digestion. The seeds can help ease digestive disorders relieves flatulence, the leaves have antiseptic properties. A tall growing perennial grows in a pot but not to its full height
Marsh mallow: The roots and leaves make a soothing, healing herb, useful in treating respiratory ailments and the common cold. Eat the young leaves in salad. Prefers damp soil and a shady position.
Peppermint: Infusion for nausea, travel sickness, indigestion and migraine. Soak a pad in the infusion to cool inflamed joints or rheumatism. Happily grows more or less anywhere. Harvest leaves first year but roots after 2/3 years.
Parsley: Rich in minerals especially calcium, potassium & silica. An infusion of parsley helps strengthen hair & nails & clear the complexion skin. Grows well from seed in moist, well drained soil, pots, window box, tub or raised bed are all suitable.
Nasturtium: The leaves contain valuable minerals and a high level of vitamin C. Taken internally they have tonic, cleansing and antiseptic effect. Nasturtium leaves, buds and flowers add a sharp peppery bite to salads. Easy to grow and self seeding.
Rhubarb: The dried & powdered root of rhubarb is an astringent medicine for stomach & bowel troubles. The leaves should not be eaten. Need to grow in a raised or garden bed and thrives best when regularly fed.
Rose: Roses can be grown in pots remember to keep well fed and watered. Choose a gallica rose for rose petal apple cider vinegar and rosa rugosa is a good choice for rosehips, though, of course all roses produce hips, which can be dried for winter use as they are a valuable source of vitamin C.
Rosemary: A rosemary infusion can be taken to soothes the nerves and stimulates the digestion. A rosemary oil can soothe aching joints It is strongly antiseptic. Grows well in a pot from cuttings.
Sage: Sage has long been considered one of the most important medicinal herbs, stimulates digestion, cools fevers, cleanses the blood, balances hormones, and soothes headaches, excellent antiseptic. Grow from cuttings in pots or beds in a sunny position.
Solomons seal: Fresh or dried powdered root used as a poultice for bruises. Grows best in a moist shady position in light soil. The plant we have in a container is not very happy.
Shiso Purple: This annual herb grows well in a pot in a shady position. Classic ingredient of ume plums. In Chinese medicine an infusion is used to disperse stagnant qi and calm the mind.
St Johns Wort: An infusion of the plant can be used to soothe anxiety, stress, depression and nervousness. The infusion can also be used to bathe wounds and skin sores. Grows well in a pot.
Sweet cicely: – a natural sweetener to grow in pots add to teas to aid digestion. Self seeder that readily spreads.
Manuka Tea tree: Fantastic bee plant, grows in a pot the tree in the garden has been in a pot for 5 years but I think it would prefer to be in the ground in a sheltered position. The essential oil and the honey from the manuka tea tree is antiseptic - anti-fungal – antibacterial.
Thyme: Thyme is a great strengthening herb useful for anaemia, exhaustion, coughs, bronchitis, colds and flu. Antiseptic and preservative. A sun loving plant.