Medicinal plants have been used for centuries as an alternative to commercial drugs. Using medicinal plants and herbs can reduce your dependence, or possibly eliminate your need for pharmaceuticals. Many plants require the expertise of health professionals or experienced herbalists to reap the benefits and avoid harm. However, some plants you can grow at home and enjoy the health benefits safely and effectively.

A good medicinal herb garden includes herbs and plants that are easy to use and have practical applications for yourself and your family. Here are 10 plants to get you started.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera is a well known skin agent. You can grow it in plants, or in the ground, and is drought-friendly. It even grows well in poor soil and requires absolutely no processing before use. When you have a cut, burn, eczema, or damaged skin, simply cut off a leaf ad use the jelly inside to rub directly onto the skin. It also can be used as a moisturizer. When planting aloe vera, be sure it is the correct type. Many types of aloe do not have the same medicinal properties as pure aloe vera. It can be used for

Peppermint

We all know peppermint from breath mints and chapstick, but this natural herb is possibly the oldest medicinal herb ever used. A handful of peppermint leaves can be dissolved in tea to calm the stomach, relieve gas, and smelling it can prevent nausea and vomiting. Be sure to plant peppermint in an area with plenty of water and room to spread.

Thyme

Thyme is a popular seasoning in the kitchen, but this perennial herb has several benefits for the throat and mouth. It can be used as a gargle to combat bad breath or mouth sores and may even help with tonsillitis and laryngitis. Thyme mixed with honey can also help to treat respiratory infections, bronchitis, congestion, asthma and cough and can be divided and given safely to small children.  

Rosemary

Rosemary may not be the most beautiful plant, but it provides significant general health and wellbeing benefits. Rosemary has been shown to enhance memory, prevent brain damage, improve cognitive function, and reduce brain aging. You can grow rosemary in a pot or plant, and use the leaves in cooking or seeping herbal teas.

Chamomile

The most common use for chamomile is tea for a troubled mind. However, it can also be used for colicky babies, upset tummies, as a gargle for mouth ulcers, and can be added to a bath as a treatment for eczema. There are several types of chamomile. The one you want is Chamaemelum nobile. German chamomile looks similar, but doesn’t have the same properties.

Sage

Sage is another common kitchen herb because it can actually improve appetite and prevent gas. However, it also can regulate hormones in women and relieve symptoms of PMS and menopause. It can be inhaled to relief breathing issues, and may be neuroprotective to treat brain diseases.

Lavender

The beautiful purple color and pleasant scent of lavender makes it a popular addition to any garden, but it can also be used as a therapeutic pick-me-up for relief from headache, depression, and anxiety. You can add handfuls of flowers to a bath or under your linens. You can also infuse the slower in water and use it in face wash for healing skin.

Echinacea

Who know the popular cold remedy was so beautiful. Echinacea has developed a reputation for strengthening the immune system to fight bacterial and viral infections. Commercial Echinacea products are available over the counter, but you can grow them yourself in any sunny location.

Broadleaf Plantain

Although this plant is considered a weed, it can be mashed up and applied to cuts, bites, and sores. It can relieve pain and promote healing of the skin and may be a mild antibiotic.

Calendula (Pot Marigold)

This is one of the most familiar and commonly used herbs. It gives a beautiful flower, and several health benefits mostly dealing with skin infections. It is commonly used in ointments and creams and the entire flower can be used as an edible garnish.

Before you start cutting, munching, mashing, brewing, or applying herbs into your health routine, start with a small quantity. All herbs contain powerful bioactive compounds that can cause alternate reactions, allergies, and should be handled only after careful care and consideration.