Making Your Home A Health Center: 7 Essential Herbs

I used to be a total failure at gardening …

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In fact, it was my little sister Bethany who pretty much always had a collection of plant pots on the back porch, with colorful flowers and luscious herbs exploding out from all sides. The only problem is, I wanted to garden big. Forget the pots … I wanted a backyard full of vegetables and herbs! But despite all of my careful efforts, the only thing I ever had much success at growing or harvesting, was weeds … 😛

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It wasn’t until Fall of 2012 when our family began implementing Paul Gautschi’s Back to Eden gardening principles, that I began to understand how gardening really works – and by taking a few simple steps and reaping the rewards of a bigger and more abundant harvest each year, I began to LOVE gardening.

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Spring 2013 PlantingSummer 2013Our First WatermelonSpring 2014 PlantingSummer 2014 HarvestFall 2014Fall 2014 – Preparing the Garden …

In 2013 we turned about half of our front yard into a mulch garden. We started an orchard! This provided a lot of extra space to plant other smaller things … and so in 2014 I planted my first experimental herb garden. One year later, the garden has more than doubled in size, and my goal is to grow a large abundance of some of the top key herbs that I use in my products – so that I can rely mostly on organic, homegrown herbs from my garden, for my salves and skincare products.

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{The vegetable garden and blackberry patch … our first attempts at mulch gardening}

Herbs. I absolutely love them! There are so many to choose from. Each has its own benefits and many cover a wide variety of health issues and symptoms. In this post I’m going to highlight 7 top favorite, major herbs that I use in my products and have found extremely effective for healing. These are all herbs that I currently grow in my herb garden – although some are a work in progress. 🙂

Comfrey

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Often referred to as the “bone-knitter” herb, comfrey is my go-to herb for quickly binding up/repairing broken bones, fractures, torn tissue, open wounds, etc. It stimulates rapid cell production, causing wounds to heal over very quickly.

Comfrey is a demulcent {meaning that it reduces inflammation and irritation}, forming a mucilage {or protective film} to coat and soothe irritated tissue.

It is an astringent, and is used to slow bleeding.

Its expectorant properties make it useful for relaxing and soothing the respiratory membranes – in the case of coughing, asthma and bronchitis, etc.

{Note: whether or not it is safe to take comfrey internally is a controversial topic. Some have chosen to use it in small amounts to effectively treat stomach ulcers, cavities, and other oral and internal issues. Others caution against any internal use, saying that its alkaloids may cause damage to the liver over time.}

Plantain

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Ah… do not underestimate the power of this little weed!

Plantain – think anti-inflammatory. Bee stings, bug bites, skin rashes/irritation, itching, swelling…

Plantain is a very gentle, mild, soothing herb {yet powerful} that effectively prevents and brings down swelling, while reducing itching/irritation/pain that would normally result.

Its anti-bacterial properties make it great for small cuts, scrapes, and minor wounds … an all-purpose sort of herb for on-the-go incidents that just happen. My Healing Salve is loaded with Plantain, {and other great healing herbs} for this purpose.

Plantain is also excellent for skin irritations and rashes – think poison ivy, poison oak, chicken pox, eczema, psoriasis, irritation from tall grass/weeds/prickly vines – perhaps a walk through the forest or a few hours in the garden harvesting cucumbers and pulling weeds … My skin flares up each time I harvest specific vegetables in the garden {anything fuzzy or prickly}, or if I spend a day walking through tall grass {like I did two weeks ago on our friends’ ranch at Sunshine Camp}. Healing Salve always does the trick!

I personally like to keep a bottle of Plantain-infused oil on hand. I find it more potent/effective than chewing up the leaves {given the choice between both}. Last Fall I treated a mouth injury with both the wild leaves and the oil … looking back, it was the oil that I felt made the biggest difference.

Arnica

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Arnica flowers … think bruising, swelling, inflammation. Anything strained, stretched, or sore.

Arnica is what I run for when I hear that someone sprained an ankle or finger … pulled a muscle … strained or over-stretched something … or just a long hard day of work = incredibly stiff and sore. It’s the main ingredient that I put in my foot soak when I broke my toe {Fall 2013} and last Christmas in the case of bruised periosteum.

Arnica goes deep. The truth is, I’ve heard that it works great in a healing salve for cuts and scrapes … but I’ve never personally used it for boo-boos or minor flesh wounds. I’ve always saved it for deep healing. Things below the surface. Wherever there’s damage that I can’t necessarily see the problem.

Arnica – it’s one of my favorite herbs for its own special benefits; and one that I do not go without.

Chamomile

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Calming, soothing, relaxing … a gentle, mild herb with skin-healing properties

Chamomile is used effectively for skin rashes, itching and irritation, etc. I put chamomile in my Baby Salve because of its amazing skin-healing properties.

Chamomile is pretty popular in the form of tea – soothe stress, reduce anxiety, wind down after a long day. It’s calming to the nerves.

Its anti-inflammatory properties make it great for minor injuries, sensitive skin prone to inflammation, and sore muscles/sprains/strains.

Anti-bacterial and immune-boosting properties make chamomile tea an incredible aid for colds and sickness. It is also very effective with digestive issues, stomach-aches, colic in babies, irritable bowel syndrome, bowel inflammation and constipation.

{Note: When applying chamomile to the skin … if you are allergic to any of the plants in the Asteraceae family  [chamomile, celery, ragwort, daisy, calendula, or chrysanthemum] you may not respond well to chamomile.}

Calendula

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The top skin herb – beautiful skin, skin repair, skin irritation …

Who would have thought that those happy little yellow and orange flowers growing in the garden, could be so packed-full of healing benefits? And how fun is it that the beautiful flowers themselves would be so amazing for skin care and repair?!

Calendula is great for disinfecting and treating minor wounds and injuries – cuts, scrapes, bug bites and bee stings, skin rashes and irritations, infections, chapped and chafed skin … it may be used to soothe and bring healing to bruises, burns, acne, and athlete’s foot.

Calendula is mild and gentle, great for babies, children, and animals.

Check out this post from last year, on some of the amazing ways to use Calendula for healing!

Peppermint

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Ah peppermint … lovely, fresh smelling stuff that tastes amazing in the form of iced sweet tea! It grows easily and spread ferociously. And yet, it is so much more than the flavoring in a stick of gum, a glass of tea, or a tube of toothpaste. 🙂

There are 2 things that come to mind. Stomach/digestive issues, and pain relief…

Peppermint has a cooling, numbing effect on the nerves. This makes it extremely effective as a natural pain reliever – for sore muscles, joint pain, breaks & fractures, sore throat, jaw pain, stomach aches & digestive issues, etc. It is also very effective in soothing headaches and migraines, calming and relaxing the body – to release stress and tension that are causing pain.

Peppermint is my go-to for stomach aches and digestive issues. Check out this post from last year. It has been used effectively by many for morning sickness, motion sickness, dizziness, gas, indigestion and heartburn.

Peppermint, along with lemon and lavender can be HUGE for allergy relief. In the form of an essential oil it is 1 of 3 in the blend that changed my life. 🙂

Peppermint is a fever-reducer; fights against bacteria and infection; supports and boosts a healthy immune system; improves alertness and concentration…

Peppermint is one of my favorite remedies for calming spasms and inflammation in the lung {for respiratory issues such as coughing, congestion, asthma, bronchitis, etc.}. I battled asthma for many years, and when I have a bad cold that develops into a deep chest cough, it’s peppermint essential oil {or another great deep-breathe remedy such as Breathe Oil and Breathe Balm} and a good cup of Peppermint Tea that seem to work wonders for “opening me up”, so that I can breathe deeply and clearly.

Echinacea

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The immune-booster herb …

It fights infection, strengthens the body, boosts the immune system – to effectively fight off colds and sickness. Echinacea is one of my favorite herbs when I’m trying to prevent an oncoming sickness, or get well quickly. During sick season our family drinks a LOT of Immune Booster Wellness Tea, which contains more Echinacea than any other herb.

It’s good stuff!

“Unlike antibiotics, which directly attack bacteria, Purple Coneflower {Echinacea} makes our own immune cells more efficient at attacking bacteria, viruses and abnormal cells, including cancer cells. It increases the number and activity of immune system cells including anti-tumor cells, promotes T-cell activation, stimulates new tissue growth for wound healing and reduces inflammation in arthritis and inflammatory skin conditions.” – Source

I also love Echinacea for its anti-inflammatory and skin repair properties. It stimulates new tissue growth, helping to quickly and effectively bring healing to minor wounds and injuries. I especially like to use it {with other herbs}, in this form.

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{Part of last year’s herb garden … this picture was taken earlier this year  before we planted several hundred more seedlings!}

There are a lot of great herbs … too many favorites to list here. But these are 7 of the herbs that I use most frequently, for medicinal purposes. The exciting thing is, you can grow most of these in your garden!

_MG_0363Enjoy this beautiful gift-of-a-day! 🙂 ❤

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4 thoughts on “Making Your Home A Health Center: 7 Essential Herbs

  1. BTW, as I have terrible spring allergies, your Organic Allergy Oil might just be following me around next Spring 😉

    Hey, maybe you should start “Herbspiration”!! 🙂 lol It could be, like, maybe a forum about herbs with different health/herb fans contributing, learning, etc. Just an idea! 🙂

    ~Alyssa

    Liked by 1 person

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