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Backyard Medicine


Flowering Aloe vera plant

Flowering Aloe vera plant

BEFORE you open your medicine cabinet, you might want to look in your backyard. The remedy you need for your aches and pains, cuts and burns, disease and infections may be found in past in your garden. Plants have been used for medicinal purposes since man inhabited the earth.

It’s a little known fact that roughly 40 per cent of our prescription medicines come from plant extracts or synthesized plant compounds. Medicinal plants give us the ability to treat and cure many ailments from asthma to anxiety, malaria, arthritis, diabetes, glaucoma, heart disease, diarrhea, headaches, skin conditions, insomnia, and many more. Everyone has a pharmacy in their backyard; they just don’t know it. You can have medicinal plants growing all over your garden, but have no idea they are useful medicinally. At its core most medicine is still herbalism.

And growing your own medicinal garden is easier than it might seem. Infact, you might already have one. Many common culinary herbs have a long history as traditional medicines. Nature’s pharmacy includes hundreds of medicinal plants and herbs that can be used for healing. Today, the world is going back to practice plant-based healing (or alternative medicine). Recognised as the oldest system of healing on the planet, herbalism traces its roots back to the earliest civilzations. Today, herbalism continues as to flourish as a people’s healing art. Even with the amazing technological advances of conventional medicine, herbalism- the art and science of healing with plants- is still widely popular.

Its popularity is gaining, not waning. According to the World Health Organisation, 80 percent of the world’s population used some form of traditional medicine in 2008, because its rate of affordability, availability and accessibility is surging. Effective, safe and inexpensive, medicinal herbs are easy to grow, they can be used to naturally fortify your body against common upsets and ailments. Do you have home remedies right under your nose? It is important to have medicinal plants around the house because you never know when you might need them. Here are a few ‘volunteer’ plants and herbs you can grow in your garden to use, not just for cooking; but to build an all-natural heal – anything first-aid kit.

Plantago major, family Plantaginaceae (plantain, greater plantain or plantain leaves). These are not the plantains you’re probably thinking of – the banana like ones you buy in the market to fry, roast or boil. These are ‘weeds’ with large green leaves that grow commonly on lawns and parks too. It is a useful herb that is often considered a weed by most of people. It is native to most Europe, north and central Asia but have unduly naturalized all over the world.

It is an Alterative, meaning it is one of the 100 plants that corrects and improve conditions of the blood and the eliminative tissues and organs. It is one of the most abundant and accessible medicinal herbs. The leaves are edible, similar to spinach though slightly more bitter. It is used in salads and other culinary recipes. But they also have some pretty awesome medicinal benefits.

Plantain can be used to treat conditions such as snake bites (root) cuts and scrapes and inflammations (leaf) colic, burns, poison ivy, detoxifying the liver and spleen, hay fever, tobacco addiction and more. Sometimes you can use the fresh leaves, other times leaves need to be crushed or mixed with something else. In some cases, the root is needed. The plant is very useful for many basic ailments – try it next time you have a cut, scrape or poison ivy. This ugly little ‘weed’ is an amazing backyard healing herb.

Peppermint (Mentha Piperita)

Use it for: Relieving gastrointestinal problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, dyspensia, colonic spasms, and gastric emptying disorders. Peppermint calms intestinal muscles and improves bile flow. The best medicinal use of peppermint comes from extracting the essential oil. Like all mints, the primary active ingredient of peppermint is menthol, which is why peppermint teas are effective decongestant and expectorant. It can also soothe coughing and sore throats.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinialis)

Use it for: Increasing capillary circulation and anti-oxidant levels. It’s anti-inflammatory properties help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases of heart and blood. The most effective way of using it as a medicinal herb is brewing it in a tea. It is interesting to note that the carnosic acid active in rosemary helps protect against cellular and brain damage inflicted by free radicals. This makes it an effective preventative for headaches, memory loss, strokes and neurological degeneration. That is why Rosemary is associated with remembrance.

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