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Old January 28, 2015   #1
LindyAdele
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Default Does anyone grow herbs medicinally?

I get a lot of mosquito bites in the summer, as well as bee stings, scratches from raspberry plants, garden callouses and just in general my skin looks like it's been through a war every day in the summer. I was hoping to make my own salve or balm this year, and wanted to grow my own plants for it.
Some herbs recommended for these types of concoctions are :borage, yarrow, callendula, comfrey, plantain and st. john's wort. There are probably many others.

I'd love to hear from others who grow herbs for medicinal purposes. What do you grow, and what do you do with them? Where have you found to be a good source of seeds for these plants?

I have plantain growing all over my yard, so no need to buy seeds for it... but the others I have to source. I think I will try them in a container or two near my tomatoes. They probably draw pollinators - at least can't hurt?
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Old January 28, 2015   #2
zackeysmom
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I apply fresh basil oil to my skin to prevent mosquito bites. I take about 12 leaves off of the plant. I crush them in my hands and rub it over my skin. My husband got bit within a 1/2 hour and he used Deet. I never got bit that day with the Basil oil. I grew Stinging Nettles in a 3 gallon pot. I know most people hate them in their yards. It makes an awesome tea. It is medicinal. I am very interested in medicinal herbs. Conventional medicines don't work for me.
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Old January 28, 2015   #3
jmsieglaff
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I haven't grown herbs for medicinal purposes, but from your list, I've grown Borage (and now will forever grow Borage). I grew them for looks and for the edible flowers--which actually have cucumber-like flavor. Borage will self-sow with the best of plants, you'll have Borage forever if you plant it in the ground--even in places you don't want it. I now let 1 or 2 grow and am very prompt at eating all the flowers and I still have Borage 'weeds' to pull every few days. The bees seem to like them a lot too. I got my seeds from Baker Creek.
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Old January 28, 2015   #4
salix
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LindyAdele - Richter's Herbs (in Ontario) has a LOT of herbs, plants and seeds. I used to get a lot of things from them, but the shipping has gotten prohibitive for us way out west.
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Old January 28, 2015   #5
zackeysmom
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I love the Richter's catalog. I don't like shipping fees either. I had two borage plants last year and they struggled and died. Maybe I will try them in pots this year. I grew them when we lived in New Jersey and gave them very little care and they grew like weeds. Maybe they don't like Georgia?
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Old January 29, 2015   #6
habitat_gardener
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I make my own herbal salve with calendula flowers, plantain leaves, nettles, lemon balm, lavender, echinacea leaves, and yarrow (plus beeswax and olive oil and larrea leaves). I have all of the herbs (not larrea) growing in my garden, though last year when I gave a demo I ended up buying calendula flowers because I didn't have enough on hand. In the past I've also used comfrey leaf/root and chickweed.

Calendula grows all over the community garden. If you get seed, go for the single flowers, not the double ones. Makes a good salve all by itself.

Ditto for plantain. My first choice for a bandaid in the garden. Just chew up a leaf to get the juices flowing and apply.

I transplanted nettles from another garden. I tried seeds and nothing came up.

Lemon balm reseeds easily, so if it's anywhere in your neighborhood, you'll have it. I bought my first one at a nursery, though.

I have grown lavender from seed, but my current lavenders started out as tiny seedlings from the nursery. I rub lavender leaves on my hair and skin when the mosquitoes are out.

Echinacea also came from the nursery, in 6-packs. I've separated 6-packs into 9-11 plants, then grew them out in separate pots. It goes dormant in the fall, and then the birds like to nibble on the new leaves when they emerge in the spring, so it helps to mark the location and protect it early in the season. I use whatever cultivar is available -- E. purpurea. I'd use roots in tinctures, but for salves, I prefer leaves.

Yarrow came from garden exchanges. The most potent medicinally is the straight species with white flowers, Achillea millefolium.

I use larrea as an antioxidant, to keep the oil/salve from going bad. You could also use vitamin E or other antioxidants.

You could make a pretty good salve with just a few herbs, whatever is available locally and whatever grows well for you.

Comfrey is wonderful, but some herbalists are raising alarms at the pyrrolizidine alkaloids in it, so for public herb demos, I don't use it.

Dry the herbs before adding to oil! Water in the herbal oil will make it go bad fast.

Grapeseed oil is also good for the skin.

Instead of beeswax, you could experiment with shea butter or cocoa butter, or just use the herbal oil.
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Old January 29, 2015   #7
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Goldenrod is good for bladder problems. I used to harvest it back in Wisconsin...it grew everywhere. It's not growing here on this property so I need to find a seed source. I don't know if it would be considered invasive here or not. I know there is an ornamental variety but I don't know if it would have the same medicinal qualities.
I do grow catnip for our cats and I have used it as a mosquito repellant as well.
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Old January 29, 2015   #8
JJJessee
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Herbs are what originally piqued my interest in gardening back in the 70's.
Our number one medicinal over the years has been just a simple comfrey in olive oil and beeswax salve. Never seen anything beat it for diaper rash -a very good all round salve. Sometimes we'd add calendula or goldenseal. But most of our medicinals we gathered wild - coltsfoot, boneset, mullein, and catnip were used on the common cold. A scratchy throat could be put to rest 9 of 10 times with a pinch of goldenseal on fruit juice first thing in the morning. I still have a jar of ginseng roots going back to the early 80s that have soaked in grain, and or scotch for a periodic draught -for general, preemptive medicinal purposes.
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Old January 29, 2015   #9
peppero
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Seedman.com has a nice list of plants seeds in this category. Check them out.

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Old January 31, 2015   #10
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I started this winter, rhodiola rosea, does that count? Before I grew all the classics like mint, but now I find it so much in the wild I stopped using up garden space.
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Old January 31, 2015   #11
frdlturner
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I grow common comfrey
Love the flowers lots of bees come around them
once planted you will never run out also comfrey are used as a natural fertilizer just cut the leaves and place on ground around your plants...

I had someone come by when they saw the comfrey growing and asked to buy some so I sold them some...
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Old January 31, 2015   #12
LindyAdele
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frdlturner View Post
I grow common comfrey
Love the flowers lots of bees come around them
once planted you will never run out also comfrey are used as a natural fertilizer just cut the leaves and place on ground around your plants...

I had someone come by when they saw the comfrey growing and asked to buy some so I sold them some...
Where did you get comfrey originally? I can't find it in seed catalogues, and my local gardening store just closed. I have a few big-box stores, but they don't carry selections this wide. I would love to grow comfrey!
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Old January 31, 2015   #13
LindyAdele
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Quote:
Originally Posted by habitat_gardener View Post
I make my own herbal salve with calendula flowers, plantain leaves, nettles, lemon balm, lavender, echinacea leaves, and yarrow (plus beeswax and olive oil and larrea leaves). I have all of the herbs (not larrea) growing in my garden, though last year when I gave a demo I ended up buying calendula flowers because I didn't have enough on hand. In the past I've also used comfrey leaf/root and chickweed.

Calendula grows all over the community garden. If you get seed, go for the single flowers, not the double ones. Makes a good salve all by itself.

Ditto for plantain. My first choice for a bandaid in the garden. Just chew up a leaf to get the juices flowing and apply.

I transplanted nettles from another garden. I tried seeds and nothing came up.

Lemon balm reseeds easily, so if it's anywhere in your neighborhood, you'll have it. I bought my first one at a nursery, though.

I have grown lavender from seed, but my current lavenders started out as tiny seedlings from the nursery. I rub lavender leaves on my hair and skin when the mosquitoes are out.

Echinacea also came from the nursery, in 6-packs. I've separated 6-packs into 9-11 plants, then grew them out in separate pots. It goes dormant in the fall, and then the birds like to nibble on the new leaves when they emerge in the spring, so it helps to mark the location and protect it early in the season. I use whatever cultivar is available -- E. purpurea. I'd use roots in tinctures, but for salves, I prefer leaves.

Yarrow came from garden exchanges. The most potent medicinally is the straight species with white flowers, Achillea millefolium.

I use larrea as an antioxidant, to keep the oil/salve from going bad. You could also use vitamin E or other antioxidants.

You could make a pretty good salve with just a few herbs, whatever is available locally and whatever grows well for you.

Comfrey is wonderful, but some herbalists are raising alarms at the pyrrolizidine alkaloids in it, so for public herb demos, I don't use it.

Dry the herbs before adding to oil! Water in the herbal oil will make it go bad fast.

Grapeseed oil is also good for the skin.

Instead of beeswax, you could experiment with shea butter or cocoa butter, or just use the herbal oil.
Thanks! I really want to make a new batch of herbal salve this summer! I am curious about what other plants might be a nice addition. Can you tell me more about Larrea?
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Old January 31, 2015   #14
habitat_gardener
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Larrea tridentata is creosote bush -- what the desert smells like after it rains. I was able to find the dried leaves from an herb supplier.

I got my comfrey from root pieces. All it takes is one 4-inch piece of root to start a plant.
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Old February 1, 2015   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by habitat_gardener View Post
Larrea tridentata is creosote bush -- what the desert smells like after it rains. I was able to find the dried leaves from an herb supplier.

I got my comfrey from root pieces. All it takes is one 4-inch piece of root to start a plant.
This reminds me of the opening song to 'true detective' excellent song....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4zluA60hjs
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