Friday, June 17, 2022

A Few Plants For Prepping Your Medicinal Herb Garden

Natural medicine Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay


You’ve probably noticed that the prices of many commodities have gone up and their availability has diminished. The problems didn’t just begin with COVID lockdowns and the war in Ukraine. Those factors have contributed, but our economic problems have been building up for a long time. We’re now beginning to feel the result of many years of government and central bank mismanagement. As a result, people like us are thinking about how we can prepare for more inflation, recession and supply chain shortages.

Among the necessities of life are food, fuel and medicine. Thankfully, we can supplement them to some extent ourselves. Consider medicine, for example. Many commonly grown garden plants are beneficial for good health and treating what ails us. Can we do without our pharmacies? Absolutely not. Should we try to self-medicate without a doctor’s supervision? Again, the answer is “NO.” Some medicinal plants such as Gelsemium can be dangerous if taken without professional guidance. But it’s good to know that we can cultivate some of them in our own gardens, if only for the pleasures of growing them, satisfying our curiosity and for their ornamental value. Beauty is therapeutic. Is it not?

Consider the following few examples, and please follow the links to other interesting and useful information.

Achillea millefoliumYarrow, Staunch-Weed – has been used since ancient times to stop bleeding, to sedate and treat anxiety, cure liver and urinary problems, improve digestion and reduce high blood pressure.

Ajuga reptansBugleweed is a traditional remedy to stop bleeding and bruising, mend broken bones, soothe throat irritation and mouth ulcers.

Aloe vera is well known for its healing properties for soothing superficial cuts, burns, insect bites and abrasions. I recently mentioned this to a medical professional who was sunburned. He was skeptical. “There are no studies proving Aloe’s efficacy in treating sunburns,” he said. “That’s an argument from silence,” I replied. I’ve applied it myself to burns to prevent blistering and scarring, and I know of many more who swear by it.

Basil is delicious and nutritious, as we all know. But it also contains antioxidants such as lutein and beta-carotene. These help to fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals can come from the foods we eat. Though they don’t last long, they can lead to cell damage and contribute to other conditions such as cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes.

Campsis radicans - Trumpet Creeper is useful for promoting perspiration and for treating wounds.

Dandelions are seldom welcome in our lawns and gardens, but they deserve to live. The botanical name, Taraxacum officinale, points to its traditional medicinal use as an anti-inflammatory herb. It has long been used as a purifying tonic, but it’s claimed to be effective in treating skin conditions, diabetes, liver and digestive disorders, among other ailments. Instead of eradicating it, plant it on purpose. It’s easy to grow. The leaves can be added to salads and dried for tea. The roots can be dried, ground, and used as a coffee substitute. Don’t expect it to taste like coffee, though.

Echinacea purpurea
– Coneflower – is a lovely perennial that’s native to North America. It was long used by indigenous tribes to support the immune system. It also contains antioxidants for treating infections of the skin, fevers, and a host of related health issues. In addition to its medicinal value, it is very ornamental. It attracts birds and pollinators. Echinacea is an absolute MUST-HAVE for your medicinal garden.

Gelsemium sempervirensCarolina Jessamine. I mention this
one because it’s sometimes seen as an ingredient in homeopathic preparations, but it’s not to be prepared at home. Leave that to the Naturopaths. states,”The roots are analgesic, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, febrifuge, hypnotic, mydriatic, nervine, sedative and vasodilator. A powerful depressant of the central nervous system, deadening pain and reducing spasms. It is said to suspend and hold in check muscular irritability and nervous excitement with more force and power than any known remedy. Whilst it relaxes the muscles, it also relieves all sense of pain. It is used internally in the treatment of neuralgia, migraine, sciatica, toothache, severe pain (especially in terminal illnesses or accidents) and meningitis. Externally it has been used as a folk remedy for cancer. The root is best harvested in the autumn and dried carefully for later use. Extreme care is advised with the use of this plant, it should only be used under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. Excessive doses cause respiratory depression, giddiness, double vision and death. It should not be prescribed for patients with heart disease, hypotension or myasthenia gravis. See also the notes above on toxicity. The fresh root is used to make a homeopathic remedy. It is used in the treatment of a variety of complaints, including fevers, flu and headaches.” Enough said. Grow it as an ornamental or for sake of curiosity, but don’t try self-medicating. You might not even live to regret it.

Hemerocallis fulva
– Common daylily. I wrote in another blog article about eating daylilies. They saying, “Let food by thy medicine” is attributed to Hippocrates. Well, here you go. Daylily is also used in medicine to increase urine flow, as a laxative, to reduce fever, stop vomiting, reduce muscle spasms, reduce pain and sedate. Daylily tubers are said to be antimicrobial and able to kill some internal parasites.

Heuchera micranthaAlum Root, Coral Bells. The root is antiseptic, astringent, reduces inflammation and fever, and has been used to treat eye infections. A tea has been used to treat liver problems and sore throats. Chewing a piece of root, cleaned and peeled, soothes sore gums.

Hypericum sppSt. John’s Wort. states, “

St. John's wort has a long history of herbal use. It fell out of favour in the nineteenth century but recent research has brought it back to prominence as an extremely valuable remedy for nervous problems. In clinical trials about 67% of patients with mild to moderate depression improved when taking this plant. The flowers and leaves are analgesic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aromatic, astringent, cholagogue, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, nervine, resolvent, sedative, stimulant, vermifuge and vulnerary. The herb is used in treating a wide range of disorders, including pulmonary complaints, bladder problems, diarrhoea and nervous depression. It is also very effectual in treating overnight incontinence of urine in children. Externally, it is used in poultices to dispel herd tumours, caked breasts, bruising etc. The flowering shoots are harvested in early summer and dried for later use. Use the plant with caution and do not prescribe it for patients with chronic depression. The plant was used to procure an abortion by some native North Americans, so it is best not used by pregnant women. See also the notes above on toxicity. A tea or tincture of the fresh flowers is a popular treatment for external ulcers, burns, wounds (especially those with severed nerve tissue), sores, bruises, cramps etc. An infusion of the flowers in olive oil is applied externally to wounds, sores, ulcers, swellings, rheumatism etc. It is also valued in the treatment of sunburn and as a cosmetic preparation to the skin. The plant contains many biologically active compounds including rutin, pectin, choline, sitosterol, hypericin and pseudohypericin. These last two compounds have been shown to have potent anti-retroviral activity without serious side effects and they are being researched in the treatment of AIDS. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh whole flowering plant. It is used in the treatment of injuries, bites, stings etc and is said to be the first remedy to consider when nerve-rich areas such as the spine, eyes, fingers etc are injured.”

Whether other species are as beneficial, I don’t know.

Lamiastrum galeobdolonYellow Archangel suppresses muscle spasms, tightens tissues, promotes urine production, helps to discharge mucus, and expectorant, stops bleeding and tightens blood vessels.

Lavandula angustifolia – Lavender. Lavender is best known for its soothing aroma. But it is also a useful medicinal herb. It soothes the nerves, can be applied to the skin to help heal wounds, burns, and prevents scar tissue. It’s antiseptic, sweetens the breath, and improves kidney function. Rubbing lavender oil on the temples is said to cure headaches.

Liriope spp. – Liriope aka Lilyturf root has been used as an anti-inflammatory agent, an aphrodisiac, a treatment for allergies, and as a stimulant. Sometimes the roots have been candied and eaten as a snack.

Lysimachia nummularia – Creeping Jenny, Moneywort has been used to treat scurvy, diarrhea and internal bleeding. It increases urine production and is astringent.

Nepeta spp
. – Catmint, Catnip. Everyone knows what it does to most cats, but it also has many medicinal uses. Tea from the leaves is useful for treating digestive disorders, reducing fevers, soothing colds and flu. It calms muscle spasms and coughs, relieves gas and increases perspiration.

Ophiopogon japonicus – Snakebeard, Mondo is a cough suppressant and expectorant, sedative, fever reducer and treatment for dry mouth. It has also been used as an aphrodisiac and cure for anxiety. (I guess if you think it works something amazing happens.) 

Black-Eye Susan - Rudbeckia hirta has been used to treat earaches, sores, colds, and even dropsy.

Thymus spp. – Thyme. In addition to culinary uses, thyme can be used in deodorant. It is also antiseptic and disinfectant.

This is by no means an exhaustive review of medicinal plants, but should give you something as you begin prepping. The next thing to research will be about how to use them.

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Saturday, June 11, 2022

Yes, you can eat daylilies!


Daylilies have been cultivated for over four thousand years beginning in China where they were popular for food and medicine. They were imported into Europe around the 16th century mostly for their ornamental value. Nowadays, we hardly even think of them as food. Each flower blooms for a day and then it's gone. What a shame to let them go to waste when they could be eaten.

Daylily blossoms can be enjoyed raw, steamed, dried, stir-fried and deep-fried in tempura batter. Serve them with noodles, rice and with other mixed vegetables.

Not only are the flowers edible, but all parts of the plant are succulent as well. Daylily leaves and tubers can be chopped and stir-fried along with mushrooms, squash, onions and many other vegetables. Daylilies aren’t only for summer eating when the flowers are produced. The tuberous roots can be harvested any time of year. Collect them when you dig the overgrown clumps to divide them.

With the rising cost of food and shortages of some items, thanks to the ineptitude of our politicians, you might be looking for something new and affordable to add to your table. Does your unreasonable HOA not allow you to grow a vegetable garden in your front yard? Grow edible flowers. If you forage in the footsteps of Euell Gibbons, add daylilies to your basket. You may find the common ditch lily (Hemerocallis fulva) growing wild in fields and, um, ditches. (Make sure you rinse them well.)

Hemerocallis fulva growing roadside

A few words of caution are in order. As with any food, some folks might have sensitivities or allergies. Nibble at first with caution. In addition, know that we’re discussing daylilies (Hemerocallis), not true lilies (Lilium species). You shouldn’t get them confused.



The folks at produced a fine video a few years ago titled How To Eat Daylilies. Christa Swartz did a very good presentation. I recommend it. So, enjoy the video, then order some daylilies. 


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Friday, June 10, 2022

Four Reasons Why You Should Grow Daylilies

Have you ever wondered whether you should grow daylilies? Here are four reasons why you should.

Daylilies have been cultivated for over four thousand years. That’s right. The plants we now know as daylilies were prized by Chinese people for medicine and food. It was not until they were imported into Europe around the 16th century that they were grown for their ornamental value. They are now among the most popular of garden perennials worldwide for their beauty and low maintenance.

Each day brings something new. Though each flower lasts only one day, many more follow. The name – Hemerocallis – is the combination of two Greek words meaning “beautiful for a day.” The color palette used to be limited to yellow, orange, and red. Thanks to dedicated gardeners and plant breeders, available colors range from white, yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, vivid combinations, soothing pastels, and various color patterns. There’s always something fresh.

There are differences in sizes and forms. In addition to the vast range of eye-popping colors, daylilies come in many sizes and forms. There are tall ones, short ones, gigantic flowers, tiny flowers, ruffled and doubled blossoms. By carefully choosing from the many varieties, you can vary the height, color and texture in your perennial border.

Daylilies are easy to find, cultivate and propagate. If a friend has a few in her garden, you can simply ask for a division, stick in in your pocket and plant it at home. You can also purchase them online and in garden shops. Daylilies thrive in most soil types without fertilizer, insect or disease control. Don’t believe it? They can even be found growing in roadside ditches with no care whatsoever. They usually multiply each year forming clumps, so you can look forward to daylilies for many years. The daylily is the perfect perennial for every garden.

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Ditch lilies