Medicinal Herbs are plants that are used for medicinal purposes. Other types of herbs include culinary herbs, used to flavor food, and aromatic herbs, used to add fragrance. It’s important to realize, medicinal herbs cover a wide range of types of plants.
And for one thing, they can be annuals or perennials; woody or herbaceous; sun-loving or shade requiring. So, whether you want to grow a kitchen herb garden as a hobby or to save money, or just for healthier eating, there are plenty of herbs you can grow in your backyard.
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In addition to your patio or even in your windowsill, a kitchen garden comes as a lifesaver. To plant and grow many edible and important key plants for our health as well as a source of income.
With that in mind, Fresh Herbs make recipes taste even better and are great to have around for soups, stews, and salads.
What are Medicinal Plants?
Plants have been used by humans and animals for medicine for many hundreds of years. Not surprisingly, many medicinal plants have rich folklore associated with them. After all, this cultural history is an important part of many communities in Kenya and Africa at large.
The parts of the plants used for medicine may be their leaves, flowers, roots, seeds, or bark. Furthermore, what puts medicinal herbs together in a category is their use in healing. Wait a minute!
Did you know that 25% of all prescription drugs are derived from plants? And that 70% of pharmaceuticals are as a result of components found in plants? At the same time, 80% of the world’s population uses botanical medicines as their principal means of health care.
And in all these processes, medicinal plants are often more than curatives. They are often embedded in the cultural fabric of social groups.
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Medicinal plants can be used as herbal baths and teas, powders, herbal extracts, poultices, salves, or syrups alone or in conjunction with each other. Not forgetting, a plant has medicinal use if there are chemical components within its structure. Components that can elicit a response in humans.
However, the dosage and potency of the chemical will depend on the part of the plant utilized. As well as the season, and even the content of the soil in which the medicinal plant is grown.
Among these chemical compounds which have specific effects on human medical concerns are:
- Alkaloids, Antibiotics, Glycosides,
- Flavonoids, Coumarins, Tannins,
- Bitter Compounds, Saponins, Terpenes,
- Essential Oils, Mucilage, Citric and Tartaric Acids, etc.
From Gardening Know How you can read and learn more about what medicinal plants are while gardening with medicinal herb plants.
How are Medicinal Herbs planted?
Gardening is much more than a hobby or fun pastime. In fact, there are many proven benefits of gardening that people enjoy.
No matter if you’re a hobby gardener or a professional-level horticulturist, spending time out digging in the dirt and caring for your plants, you too can enjoy these various benefits of gardening. If you’re not sold on the concept, you’ll change your mind with this article.
In general, herbal plants are amazingly useful components in the landscape. That’s, even if you’re not ready to use them to boost health and wellness. Whereas, for most herbs, they are really not very difficult to grow. Many have lovely flowers and/or even interesting foliage too.
As such, these herbal plants can easily be integrated into your perennial beds or any traditionally landscaped area. A lot of herbs grow well in pots, either indoors or outdoors too. And many are very adaptable to climates and types of soil. Many, many herbs are basically pest-resistant plants, ta-boot!
If you’re new to herbs, you can get started with this short e-book, Herbs in the Bathtub. This book will get you growing herbs in pots this year regardless of where you live or how much space you have. It even outlines a collection of well-known herbs for culinary and wellness uses.
Is there a Marketplace for Medicinal Herbs?
In addition to their cultural significance, medicinal herbs are important economically. Not to mention, due to Kenya’s and parts of Western Africa’s unique topography and climate, growers here have the full potential.
Especially, to profit from the cultivation of various medicinal plant species. And as a matter of fact, there are many players and a wide range of commercial activity within the medicinal herbs industry. Comprising of everything you may think of.
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Before you get started with Medicinal Herbs farming, it is important to realize, its general marketplace.
For instance, a Marketplace for Medicinal Herbs can happen from top-level multi-national corporations (trading large volumes of bulk raw materials around the world). To even small-town businesses (making value-added herbal products for direct sale to local customers). And also, everything in between.
How to Join and Target your Marketplace
Notably, the broad scope inherent in this industry translates into a lot of information for interested growers to understand. But, it also means there are different ways for growers to get involved.
Before you start, you can see a Complete Bootstrap Guide by Lee Sturdivant. The guide is on Medicinal Herbs in the Garden, Field & Marketplace (1998-07-03) Paperback – January 1, 1816.
Of course, with creativity and perseverance, growers and entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes have the potential to find a niche in this marketplace. And as an example, there are some specific types of companies you may find in the medicinal herbs industry.
That said, some include companies that:
- Buys and purchases raw materials and manufacture finished herbal products,
- Purchase raw materials and manufacture ingredients for other companies to put into finished herbal products
- Purchases raw materials and sell them to manufacturers (i.e., brokers)
- Grows their own raw materials and sell to herbal product manufacturers
- Grow their own raw materials, add value to them by processing them, and crafting finished raw materials for distribution or direct sale.
Not only is this industry multi-faceted, but it is also incredibly dynamic.
Top 10 Medicinal Herbs for Kitchen Gardens
If you’re thinking about entering the medicinal herb industry, the first thing you’ll want to do is evaluate your interests, resources, and capabilities. In that case, to get a sense of how you may want to get started.
Surprisingly, the medicinal herbs market fluctuates in a way that differs from many agricultural markets. It is immature by industry standards and not as well organized as other commodities. And it is also under pressure from governmental agencies to ensure safe products.
Above all, the oversight teams have many herbal product companies and regulatory agencies too. Working together to develop standardized quality measurements and procedures. In the end, this means that it is an industry in constant flux!
This can present an opportunity for a grower or herbal product entrepreneur. But, it also means growers must maintain a level of flexibility that they may not have needed in other industries, for example, with traditional commodity crops in Africa.
In picking a place to grow your herbal plants, keep in mind that they need a good four to six hours of sun daily. Now that there are many herbs that you can grow to enhance your cooking.
But, whenever you plant medicinal herbs in a kitchen garden, don’t only plant the herbs you know, take a chance on something else. After all, you might just be surprised. Below is a list of our topmost medicinal herbs and plants you can grow in your kitchen garden.
There are several varieties of mint. You can use it in drinks like mojitos or mint juleps. Or add some mint to your summer iced tea.
Mint freshens the breath and will help to calm your stomach. But if you grow mint, remember that it’s considered an invasive plant. Mint will spread and take over your garden. It’s best grown in containers.
Chiefly, Parsley is a mild bitter herb that can enhance the flavor of your foods. And also, Parsley plants will grow to be large and bushy.
Many consider parsley just to be a curly green garnish for food, but it actually helps things like stews achieve a more balanced flavor. As an added benefit, parsley can aid in digestion.
More often, Parsley is grown as an annual, but in milder climates, it will stay evergreen all winter long. Additionally, Parsley is a good source of Vitamins A and C.
Whether you choose a large leaf Italian basis or large purple sweet basil, this plant is popular in many cuisines but is a feature in Italian cooking like pizzas, salads, sauces, and pesto.
Some people think basil is great for planting alongside your tomatoes but there’s no real evidence that it makes your tomatoes taste sweeter. In fact, Basil has health benefits of antioxidants and is a defense against low blood sugar.
In general, Dill is a great flavoring for fish, lamb, potatoes, and peas. And also, it is easy to grow.
In reality, it also aids in digestion, helps to fight bad breath, and has the added benefits of reducing swelling and cramps. It will also attract helpful insects to your gardens such as wasps and other predatory insects.
Equally, it also saves a trip to the Dentist!
Sage is an aromatic herb that is great for seasoning meats, sauces, and vegetables.
But, be careful because sage will have a tendency to overpower other flavors. Sage also helps to relieve cuts, inflammation, and helps with memory issues. It was once thought to be a medicinal cure-all. Sage is an easy herb to grow and is relatively easy to care for.
It’s great in your garden for attracting bees.
Rosemary is one of the most flavorful herbs and is great for adding to things like poultry, meats, and vegetables.
Around Christmastime, you’ll see tree-shaped rosemary bushes for sale. You can bring them home and keep them for planting in the spring. The fragrant plant is a delightful scent and is sometimes used in floral arrangements. Rosemary likes its soil a bit on the dry side, so be careful not to overwater.
For more guidance, be sure to check out this guide titled, ‘How I grew a rosemary plant in my garden‘! Allowed to flourish, a rosemary plant will grow into a full-sized bush.
For your information, Thyme is a delicate looking plant and is part of the mint family.
The most common variety is garden thyme which has gray-green leaves and a minty, somewhat lemony smell. It is often used for flavoring egg, bean, and vegetable dishes. On the other hand, Thyme is often added to soups and stews.
Thyme is frequently used in the Mediterranean, Italian, and Provençal French cuisines. Pair it with lamb, poultry, and tomatoes.
Grown as a condiment and for use in salads and dressings, lavender will give most dishes a slightly sweet flavor.
Lavender syrup and dried lavender buds are used in the United States for making lavender scones and marshmallows. Health benefits include the soothing of insect bites and headaches when used with herbs and aromatherapy.
Remarkably, Lavender plants will survive in many growing conditions but do best in full sun in warm, well-drained soil.
9. Cilantro/Coriander/Chinese Parsely
Uniquely, the seeds of cilantro are known as coriander.
It’s perfect for adding into spicy foods like chills, and Mexican, Chinese, Southeast Asian, and Indian cuisines. The plant grows early in the season and doesn’t like it when the ground becomes too warm.
Peppermint is also a good source of calcium, potassium, and Vitamin B. And like other mints, it aids digestion and keeps your breath refreshed. Especially, in the form of Buble gum.
Peppermint is a hybrid mint, being a cross between water mint and spearmint. Peppermint oil can be used for flavoring but is also useful as a natural pesticide. It also reduces the effects of irritable bowel syndrome.
In addition, Peppermint prefers rich soil and partial shade. And like other mints, it spreads quickly, so it is important that you consider planting it in containers.
Additional Medicinal Herbs For Kitchen Gardens
Today, we live in a time when manufactured medicines and prescriptions prevail, but do they have to be the only approach to healing?
Even with all of these engineered options at our fingertips, many people find themselves turning back to the medicinal herbs and plants that started it all. Usually, with herbal remedies that have the ability to heal and boost physical and mental well-being.
In fact, at the beginning of the 21st century, 11 percent of the 252 drugs considered “basic and essential” by the World Health Organization were “exclusively of flowering plant origin.”
Drugs like codeine, quinine, and morphine all contain plant-derived ingredients. And since we may not have exhausted the whole bunch of Medicinal Herbs to consider for your kitchen garden above, allow me to list some more below.
Additional herbs to consider include;
- Winter Savory
- Bay Leaves
- St. John’s Wort
- French Tarragon
- Fennel, and much more!
While manufactured drugs have certainly become paramount in our lives, it can be comforting to know the power nature has on our side.
As can be seen, from the above-mentioned list, these herbal choices are available to complement our health practices. And generally speaking, their extent of power is still in exploration. Therefore, in other words, these alternatives aren’t cure-alls, and they aren’t perfect.
But, one word for sure, many carry the same risks and side effects as manufactured medicines with unfounded promises.
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Finally, I hope you have gathered enough information in regards to how you can get started with your kitchen garden for herbs.
But, if you have additional information, contributions, or even suggestions, please don’t hesitate to Contact Us. You can also share some or more of your thoughts in the comments section.