Growing Healing Plants
May 17, 2021
When we think of gardening, many of us think about growing flowers to beautify our yards, or growing vegetables to eat and preserve. But what about growing plants for healing purposes? There are so many easy-to-grow plants that not only look beautiful; they also make a wonderful cup of healing herbal tea.
Herbal teas can have many health benefits, from aiding digestion to improving sleep, boosting immunity, and reducing anxiety. Herbal teas are an important part of traditional herbal medicine. Today we’ll be exploring some of the most popular herbal teas and looking at their health benefits. You might even have some of these plants growing in your garden already!
Note: It is important to consult your doctor or health care practitioner before using any form of herbal medicine. Please also note that the recipes below are not intended for children.
#1 Chamomile Tea
German chamomile is an annual plant that can be grown in gardens or in pots, and can be started indoors from seed or planted directly in the garden as young plants. It is good for digestion, easing stress and nervousness, and promoting sleep. Chamomile tea can be found in many grocery stores, or you can make your own by steeping 1 tsp of dried chamomile flowers or 2 tsp of fresh chamomile flowers per cup of hot water. Steep the tea, covered, for about 15 minutes. You can sweeten it with a little honey if you’d like. Enjoy!
#2 Echinacea (Purple Coneflower) Tea
Echinacea, or Purple Coneflower, is a plant that is native to Ontario and grows well in gardens. Echinacea is known to have immune-boosting properties, and it also helps reduce inflammation. It’s commonly recommended for when you feel like you’re coming down with a cold or flu. Echinacea tea can be found in some grocery stores – Traditional Medicinals is a great brand if you can find it. You can also make your own by steeping ¼ cup loose dried Echinacea in 1 cup of hot water, or ½ cup fresh Echinacea in 1 cup of hot water. Steep the tea, covered, for about 15 minutes before serving. You can add honey to sweeten the tea to taste, since it can be a little bitter.
#3 Elderberry Tea
The common elderberry is a shrub that grows wild in southern Ontario, but it is also beautiful in gardens. It produces suckers, so be sure to prune them if you’d like to keep your elderberry contained. Black elder, the most common form of elderberry, has antimicrobial and antiviral properties and can help reduce the duration of the flu. The berries of the elderberry plant cannot be eaten raw or before they are ripe, but when the ripe berries are cooked, they can be used in pies or jams as well as for tea. The flowers can also be used for tea. Dried elder flowers or dried elderberries are typically used to make tea. You can find them in some health food stores as well as online, if you don’t have access to them in your garden.
To make elderberry tea, put the dried elderberries in pot of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow the tea to simmer for about 15 minutes. Strain the tea before serving. You can also add other ingredients to the water along with the elderberries, such as cinnamon sticks, to add more flavour. Some people also like to add honey to sweeten their elderberry tea. Enjoy!
#4 Peppermint Tea
Peppermint is well-known for its digestive benefits, and can be helpful when your stomach is feeling off. Peppermint tea can be found in most grocery stores, or you can make your own by steeping 1 tsp of dried mint leaves per cup of hot water. Peppermint is easy to grow in the garden, but it spreads easily so it can be best to grow in a pot if you don’t want it to take over!
#5 Lavender and Lemon Balm Tea
Lavender is known for its relaxing properties, and lemon balm is known for helping to calm nervousness and anxiety. Lemon balm can also help with digestion. Just be careful if you are thinking of planting lemon balm in your garden – it’s a member of the mint family, so it spreads very easily and can become invasive. Like peppermint, it may be best to plant it in a pot!
This tea is usually served hot but is also nice as an iced tea. You can often find these herbs in health food stores and in various herbal tea blends. You can also make the tea with fresh herbs, if you have them. If you’re using fresh herbs, steep 1 cup of fresh lemon balm leaves and 4 sprigs of fresh lavender in 4 cups of hot water. Cover and steep for 30 minutes, or until the tea reaches your desired strength. Strain out the leaves, pour into cups and sweeten with honey to taste. Enjoy!
#6 Rosehip Tea
Rosehips are a good source of vitamin C, which is great for boosting your immunity. You can buy rosehip tea or use dried rosehips from your garden if you have them available. Simply steep the dried rosehips in hot water, covered, for about 10-15 minutes, strain, and sweeten if desired.
We hope you learned something about medicinal plants and teas today! Do you make tea from any plants in your garden? We’d love to hear about it!
By Kate at FWIO