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Five Medicinal Plants to Add to Your Garden

Many of the pills, syrups and tonics we have in our medicine cabinets originated from plants, flowers and seeds. That’s not to say that going out and chewing the bark of a white willow for a headache will have the same prompt and convenient effect as swallowing an aspirin, but there are a number of easy-to-grow medicinal plants that you can add to your garden to help you get right to the root of a cure.

These four fun and often fragrant flowers and plants can add lovely landscaping or create a whimsical window box, but more importantly, give you a wealth of health benefits.

Aloe Vera. You need good sunlight to keep this succulent going, but it’s okay to forget to water it. The sap from the aloe vera is very useful for reducing pain and speeding up the healing from external inflammations such as burns, cuts, wounds and eczema. You can also drink aloe vera juice to treat ulcerative colitis, constipation, and digestive problems.

Echinacea. The pretty purple flowers of Echinacea will grow on any well-drained soil if the space gets sunlight. More importantly, Echinacea has been known to stimulate the immune system, helping to increase your body’s resistance to bacterial and viral infections. Native Americans used Echinacea for insect bites and stings, and snakebites. The roots are used on sores, wounds, and burns.

Lavender. Another purple plant, lavender, brings a soothing and lovely fragrance to any garden. It grows nicely in dry, well-drained, sandy soil with full sun and good air circulation. Many people are familiar with using lavender for relaxation and sleep, but it is also useful for upset stomachs, cuts, wounds, sores, bad breath, migraines, vomiting, toothaches, nausea, hair loss, and more.

Sage. Sage is something of a panacea when it comes to good health. Grow sage in well-drained, fertile soil where there is enough sunlight to help with loss of appetite, gas, stomach pain, heartburn, cold sores, gum disease (gingivitis), asthma and excessive sweating. As an anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-fungal plant, sage is truly valuable.

Marigolds. Their deep orange petals cheer up any garden plot, but marigolds are also known as an external remedy for skin problems such as bites, stings, sprains, and wounds. Crush the stems up and apply them to corns and warts to help remove those defects. Much like aloe vera, marigolds have internal uses as well as a tea from the petals can improve circulation and varicose veins, or treat fevers and chronic infections. Unlike aloe vera, potted marigolds will grow in almost any type of condition, including nutritionally poor, very acidic or very alkaline soils, if kept moist.

Fun Fact: Marigolds planted in tomato gardens help keep away horn worms, so they promote good health in humans and vegetables.

Finally, beyond the medicinal properties of these plants themselves, the process of gardening itself can be extremely therapeutic. At Bethesda Senior Living Communities, many of our residents have patio plants or work in our communal gardens, and we’ve seen how digging in the roots is truly the root of good health.