Herbs are one of my favorite things to grow, for cooking and for treating ailments. Many of them are perennials, so once you get herbs established you don’t have to worry about planting them year after year. And many herbs do quite well in partial shade, and are a great way to use those areas around your home which don’t get enough sunlight for sun-loving plants.
Building A Medicinal Herb Collection
My ultimate goal is to grow as many of the culinary and medicinal herbs that my family uses as possible. Until then I’ll be buying my herbs in bulk. I’ve been slowly working on building my medicinal herb collection, to experiment with making different salves, tinctures, and ointments for my family. I want to try out a bunch of recipes to see what works best for us, so that I know which herbs I need to plant.
With these herbs I can make:
- face/body wash
- herbal soaps
- tooth powder
- and lots more!
I’m so anxious to try the many recipes I’ve found.
Most of what I have I bought specifically to combine in a recipe, not so much to use individually. I’ll be posting more as I experiment with different herbal combination.
Here’s what I have so far, and a few of their uses…
*Important: I am not a doctor. The following is for informational purposes only. Always do your research before you start taking any herbs, as side effects and pharmaceutical drug interactions may occur.
Rosehips– An excellent source of vitamin C. I make a tea with them to help keep us well, especially through the winter. A good ingredient to add to cough remedies.
Oregano Leaf– Antibacterial
Turmeric– Anti-inflammatory, good for the brain, can be used daily as a spice to flavor your foods.
Black Walnut Hull– Anti-fungal, antiseptic, astringent, and antiviral, strengthens and builds tooth enamel, contains natural fluoride. “As a rich source of organic iodine, black walnut (the hulls in particular) also gained much popularity as nourishment for the thyroid, especially in the interior parts of the country where sea vegetables were hard to come by.” -Practical Herbalism.
Echinacea Root– Antibiotic, immune stimulant, anti-allergenic, lymphatic tonic; can be especially useful for recurring kidney infections; good for common colds; reduces inflammation.
Bentonite Clay– Helps soothe insect bites and stings, draws impurities from your skin, helps regulate your body’s pH. Can be made into a Toothpaste (recipe).
Activated Charcoal– Absorbs toxins from your stomach, helps relieve vomiting and diarrhea from flu and food poisoning. Has been shown to absorb peanut protein and stop anaphylactic reactions caused by allergies. Can be used on insect bites to draw out poisons.
Catnip– Cools fevers, promotes sweating, helps relive congestion, has a calming effect. Makes a great tea to calm fussy babies or overactive children.
Mullein Leaf– Expectorant, sedative, heals wounds, astringent, anti-inflammatory. Can be used to treat feverish chills with hard coughs. Gargle an infusion to reduce inflammation causing a sore throat. Use a salve to treat wounds, hemorrhoids, eczema, or inflamed eyelids. Has been used to treat whooping cough, tuberculosis, asthma, and bronchitis.
Cat’s Claw Bark– Has been used to treat Lyme’s disease and clean out the kidneys.
Lemon Balm– Sedative, anti-depressant, digestive stimulant. Good for feverish colds. Makes a delicious tea. Calms upset stomach brought on by nervousness. The oils make a great insect repellant.
Chamomile Flowers– Delicious, relaxing tea. Relieves indigestion. Makes a great eyewash for pink-eye. Helps soothe eczema.
Arnica Flowers– Helps heal bruises and sprains.
Beeswax– for making balms.
Shea Butter– Nourishing to the skin, great for ointments and salves.
Coconut Oil– For ointments and salves. Great nourishment for the skin.
Calendula (Pot Marigold)– Astringent, antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, heals wounds, menstrual regulator, stimulates bile production. Make a mouth wash for ulcers and gum disease. Suppositories help heal vaginal yeast infections. Drink a tea for menopausal problems, period pains, gastritis. Make a cream to treat dry skin, sore nipples from breastfeeding, scalds, sunburns, eczema.
Lavender Flowers– Relaxant, antispasmodic, circulatory stimulant, relieves nerves, antibacterial, antiseptic. Relieves stress and headaches, also good for colic and irritability. Add to cream for eczema. Helps sooth sunburns and scalds. Can treat lice.
Comfrey– Heals wounds, expectorant. Helps heal fractured bones. Soothes osteoarthritis.
Horesetail/Shavegrass– Astringent, stops bleeding, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, tissue healer. Makes a good eyewash for conjunctivitis (pink eye). Can be used to treat nosebleeds and heavy menstruation. Can help control bed-wetting. Used to help heal damage from lung disease. Is prescribed for stomach ulcers, urinary tract inflammations, and prostate disorders. A poultice can be made for wounds.
Yarrow Flower– Astringent, fresh leaves can be used for nosebleeds, used to treat hay fever. Makes a good eczema wash. A compress can be made to treat varicose veins.
Where I Buy My Herbs In Bulk
It’s important when you are buying anything that will be going into your body that the ingredients are organic and of the best quality. So far, the best places I’ve found to buy quality, organic herbs in bulk at the best price is The Bulk Herb Store and Mountain Rose Herbs (affiliate links). If I haven’t grown it myself yet or can’t find it growing wild, I buy it from either one of these stores.
How To Store Dried Herbs
When you grow your own herbs, you have the option of using them fresh or drying them for future use. Some herbs even become more potent after being dried, and are preferred in this state. If you will be drying herbs, or buying dried herbs in bulk, there are a few things you need to keep in mind as you store them…
Keep Out Moisture– Before you put your herbs up on the shelf, you need to make sure they’re completely dry. They should be brittle, and crumble between your fingers. If there is any moisture left in them, they will begin to mold in their container. They should be stored in a dry place, protected from humidity.
Keep Out Air– You’ll want to seal them in an air-tight container. A mason jar is perfect for storing herbs.
Keep Out Light– Exposing dried herbs to direct sunlight will cause them to deteriorate more rapidly. Store them somewhere away from a window, or keep them in a dark container.
Keep Out Heat– Herbs will last longer when stored in cooler temperatures.
Follow these basic guidelines, and your herbs will keep for several months to even a couple of years. Remember, the longer they sit the more they breakdown nutritionally, so the faster you can use them up the more you’ll get out of your herbs.
My herbs are stored in a cool, dark closet, away from any windows. A cool, dry basement would also be a great place to keep them.
I look forward to growing more herbs, and buying less!
I’d love to know which herbs you grow, buy, or use on a regular basis! Tell me about your medicinal herb collection.