Archive for herbs

Mother Nature’s Medicine Chest

Plant a garden of ancient herbs and learn how early healers used them to cure sicknesses and aid in emergencies.  By planting this garden in the shape of a horseshoe, you will have a fragrant arch that will send you back in time; back to a time were doctors and pharmacies, hospitals and nurses, and laypeople and grandmothers turned to plants for their medicinal needs.  Many of these green medicines are still used in modern medicines today.



1 seedling Aloe Vera

1 seedling Calendula

1 seedling catnip

1 seedling dill

1 seedling fennel

1 seedling lavender

1 seedling lemon balm

1 seedling parsley

1 seedling peppermint

1 seedling sage

1 seedling woolly lamb’s ear

3 seedlings cilantro


Slit open the leaf of an Aloe Vera plant and squeeze the clear gel on your skin.  It feels cool and soothing when used on minor burns or skin irritations.  Stuff a pillow with lavender to ensure sweet, colorful dreams, and make your own bandages with woolly lamb’s ear leaves.  You can concoct a lemon balm wash for cold sores, and a healing throat gargle from sage leaves steeped in vinegar.  The petal of Calendula will surprise you with their ability to cleanse wounds and heal chapped skin, and a cup of catnip tea may become your favorite sleepy time drink.


Pick out an area for an 8 by 8 foot size garden that will receive at least six hours of full sun daily.  Outline a horseshoe shape, approximately six feet wide and eight feet long with planting beds 18 inches wide.  Make sure the opening of the horseshoe is facing south


Prepare the garden bed as you would any new garden space.  You can with till the top layer of soil under, double dig the entire garden, or do as I do and use the newspaper method.  Spread a layer of newspaper over the garden area, and then begin layering shredded bark, mulch and compost over the newspaper.  Garden is immediately ready to plant and the new emerging plant roots will grow through the newspaper into the topsoil below.


One the horseshoe shaped beds are planted, fill in the open area of the garden with mulch or shredded bark to keep the weeds down and provide a comfortable place to relax.  When planting, maintain 12 to 18 inches between each plant.  The tallest herbs, like fennel and dill, should be planted on the north side of the garden to prevent shading of the shorter plants.


Uses for Some Herbs:

1.     Dill – helps with upset stomachs and heartburn.  The foliage, flower buds and seeds are the eatable portions of this herb.

2.     Coriander seeds – the seedpods of cilantro are called coriander seeds.  Snacking on these seedpods will give your mouth a breath-freshening feeling.

3.     Aloe Vera – the oozing gel inside an aloe Vera leaf will help sooth mild burns, sunburns and other mild skin irritations.

4.     Peppermint – rubbing peppermint leaves on your exposed skin will help discourage nuisance bug bits.

5.     Fennel – the seeds of fennel taste like licorice and a helpful with weight loss because they satisfy hunger and decrease appetite.

Home Remedies

1.     Tummy Tea – strip dried peppermint leaves from their stems, pack them into a clean tin, and cover with an airtight lid.  Store in a cool, dark cupboard.  Herbalists use the healing, anesthetic menthol of peppermint tea to soothe upset stomachs and indigestion.  Scoop 2 to 3 teaspoons per cup into a tea ball, place into a teapot, and add boiling water.  Steep for 8 minutes, cool, then sip slowly for gentle relief.

2.     Sage Gargle – Sage leaves are filled with astringent and antiseptic tannins that comfort sore throats.  Pack a wide mouthed jar with whole dried or fresh sage leaves.  Cover the sage leaves completely with apple cider vinegar and cap tightly.  Store in a cool, dark place, and shake daily.  After two weeks, pour the sage-vinegar mixture through a strainer and rebottle the liquid.  Put it in your medicine cabinet and use as a gargle for sore throats.

3.     Cold Sore Remedy – Strip dried lemon balm leaves from their stems, and fill a clean glass or tin container.  Cap tightly and store in your medicine chest to make an antiviral wash for cold sores.  Put 2 to 4 teaspoons of dried herbs in a container and add 1 cup of boiling water.  Steep for ten minutes, strain, and let cool.  Apply the cooled mixture to cold sores with a sterile cotton ball several times a day.

4.     Herbal Bath Bags – Bath bags are simple to make and can be washed and reused.  With pinking shears, cut a piece of fabric into an 8-inch square.  Fill the center of the fabric with a handful of lavender flowers and stems and lemon balm leaves, lift the edges to form a bundle, and tie closed with a piece of ribbon.  For a muscle-relaxing soak, drop the herbal bag into a tub of hot water.  Climb in, stretch out, and breathe in the heavenly fragrance.

5. Dream Pillows – Aromatherapists and herbalists recommend the sweet, blended fragrances of herbs and flowers for calming, colorful, dreams.  Mix together dried lavender flowers, lemon balm leaves, and fennel and dill seeds.  Cut a 6- by 12-inch piece of soft fabric and fold it in half.  Squeeze a narrow bead of fabric glue along two of the edges and allow the seams to dry.  Loosely fill the pillow (it should be flat enough to slip inside a pillowcase) and finish closing the bag with another bead of glue.  Slip the thin fragrant pillow inside your pillowcase and drift off to sleep on a cloud of herb-scented dreams.


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