I was recently asked if I had a medicinal garden, immediate answer was, “Yes, it’s a MUST!” Why? Because Hippocrates was right, nature is the best physician. Think about it…our best pharmaceutical drugs today were ultimately derived from plants; remedies for yellow fever, malaria, cancer, aspirin, and many more, but if you can grow or collect them naturally, you bypass the chemical additives. In addition, in the event of a large-scale disaster, pharmaceutical drugs may become hard to find, leaving many people unnecessarily vulnerable.
There is an answer. As a homesteader and retired M.D.[A.M.], I dedicated half my garden to heirloom herbs and the other half to organic foods. Below is the list of medicinals I have planted. Keep in mind, these 4 things when planting yours:
1. First and foremost, do not assume that because it is a natural plant that it is safe to use. Many herbs have contraindications and side effects. For example, licorice raises blood pressure; turmeric can interfere with diabetes medications; and there are several herbs tht are dangerous to use if you are on blood thinners. Learn first and talk to a professional. If you have an herb and want to learn more about it, try David Winston’s Resource Guide here, it is free online.
2. Use plants that grow well in your region. You can enhance your soils to be ideal, but you can’t change the weather or the environmental needs of the plant species. The ones I listed work best for where I live.
3. Diversity is key. Think about all the possible ailments likely to inflict you and the ones you may experience already, then choose plants to fit your needs. But as in preparedness, have a backup species planted in case your first choice dies from disease itself. For instance, there are several different plants that help with digestive disorders, so choose two. My teasel all died my first year, but I had marjoram, cayenne, ginger and dandelion growing.
4. Buy organic heirloom seeds and plants and save your seeds! This is critical because regular seeds could be GMO or treated so you can’t save the seeds from your plants and regrow more. Sadly, this is a common practice. Buying heirloom organic seeds allows you, not only your first harvest, but many many more for future years if you harvest and store your seeds correctly. You can make your own survival seed bank, saving a ton of money, too.
Okay, here’s the list of my favorites:
Calendula, Valerian, Self-Heal, Lavender, Burdock, Mullein, Chamomile, Peppermint, Clover, Dandelion, Echinacea, Lemon Balm, Pansy, Oregano, Garlic, Marjoram, Parsley, Yarrow, Thyme, Rosemary, Sage and Cayenne. These are the ones that are growing best in my area/garden and a selection that covers nearly all ailments. Next year I will add Wild Lettuce and Holy Basil and inject some Chaga spores into a few of my trees to see what happens.
Not sure where to find good seeds? My favourite provider is Everwilde Farms. Their seeds are shipped in mylar packets for protection and longevity. There are other quality sellers also.
Here are some links to companies that sell organic and/or heirloom seeds: