The old song says, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Let’s add echinacea, garlic and basil. Most are culinary herbs with poetic histories. All are green medicines that you can harvest at will.
The herbs don’t take up much space, if not much space is what you have. I myself grow about 15 kinds of herbs on my little apartment balcony, in containers. A culinary/medicinal herb I love to have there is chickweed, a wild herb that’s easy to grow at home.
You can get creative and recycle an old sink or worn-out buckets as containers, but herbs thrive in ordinary plant pots. Weeding and adding organic plant food to the water every 2-3 weeks guarantee thriving, healthy plants. Seed packets provide information on how deeply to sow, the right months of the year for sowing, and the best sun/shade conditions. If buying little starters, consult the plant nursery. Or start your herb garden with upcycled supermarket herbs. You’ll love picking fresh, green medicine that you grew yourself.
Curly or flat like in the Middle East: Chew a few leaves of fresh parsley to give your breath a healthy freshness.
A bunch of parsley, simmered 20 minutes (covered) in plenty of water, makes a diuretic tea that’s much healthier than “water pills.”
Two big parsley roots, chopped and cooked the same way with a handful of corn silk added, make a tea strong enough to move gravel from the kidneys and bladder.
Strong sage tea is antiseptic and an effective tissue healer. Gargle with it to relieve a scratchy throat. Wet a clean cloth or cotton with the infusion and apply to chafed, sore skin to prevent infection. Allow to dry naturally. Do this several times a day. The tea forms little white, floating particles. This is normal. Warning: drinking medicinal sage tea may bring menstruation on early, or cause menses to return during menopause.
A sprig of rosemary in hot water, with lemon and honey, makes a pleasant tea that will cure a tension headache. Rosemary stimulates blood circulation and warms the body. A bath with fresh or dried rosemary leaves will leave you feeling relaxed, but awake and alert. Tie the herb into a big handkerchief or a square of cheesecloth and chuck into a very hot bath. Swish it around a few times. When the water has cooled down enough to be pleasant, jump in. Warning: rosemary is not safe to use as medicine in pregnancy.
A good cure for coughs is thyme infusion: 1 oz. of the dried herb infused in 1 pint of boiling water. Take 1 or 2 tablespoons, 3-5 times daily. I treated my own child with weak, sweet thyme tea when she had whooping cough as a baby. When she refused to drink any more, I put thyme in her bath. It was the only thing that helped.
The purple coneflower grows tall and handsome, and all parts of it are antiviral and antimicrobial. I suggest drying the flowers and leaves and storing them in glass, in a dark place. When you feel a cold coming on, pour a cup of boiling water of a teaspoon of the dry herb and cover the cup. Wait 15 minutes to drink.
Drink 3-5 cups of echinacea tea daily, sweetened with honey and flavored with cloves and/or lemon. It will help the virus to move along.
A plant from the Quran. Ordinary garlic bulbs will sprout and make new bulbs with sturdy shoots and delicate flowers. It’s known to lower blood pressure and cholesterol somewhat, but it’s most famous as a natural antibiotic.
To clear away an ear infection, chop 3 large garlic cloves. Heat 3 tablespoons good olive oil and add the chopped garlic to it. Stir, cook 1 minute and remove from heat. Allow to steep 20 minutes. Strain the oil and drop 3 drops into the afflicted ear.
The oil is best applied warm. Re-heat it by passing a teaspoon half-filled with it over a lit match. Test the heat by dropping some on your inner wrist – you don’t want to drop hot oil into someone’s ear! Warm garlic oil relieves the pain and clears up mild ear infections.
I have also killed a cold by eating fresh garlic flowers several times.
This distinctive culinary herb has its uses as medicine, and surprising ones, too. Steep a jarful of the fresh, clean leaves in enough vodka to cover and leave, covered, in a dark place for three weeks. Drink a spoonful every morning to chase away fuzzy thinking. This simple tincture will also relieve headaches and help digestion.
If you live in a very cold, long-lived winter place with little sunshine, consider an indoor hydroponic kitchen counter grow machine. If you use it for years it will be worth it, but you need to commit.
Inspiration for growing herbs in your own space:
- Greenbo Patio Gardens
- Grow Flowers in Biodegradable OAT Shoes
- A Halal’s Day Work At the People’s Produce Project
Green Prophet will not take responsibility for these herbal methods. Consult your health practitioner for any persistent pain or ailment.