15 - 2011

10 Backyard Plants and Herbs You Can Use in the Home

Thanks to Bailey Harris for this great guest post! As with all advice about medicines — natural or synthetic — please do your own research and check with a doctor before using a product or plant.

Growing your own plants and herbs can be a very rewarding experience. Backyard plants can be used for cooking, cleaning, healing, beauty treatments, and more. Here are 10 plants and herbs that no backyard garden should be without.

Great Burdock

Great burdock is a healing herb with a wide variety of medicinal uses. The roots of the plant harbor large amounts of insulin. Made into a tea, burdock can be very beneficial to those with diabetes. Naturally anti-fungal, a burdock poultice can be made to treat burns, insect bites, sores, and rashes.  The seeds of the plant can soothe a sore throat or a nasty flu virus. Burdock leaves are useful in treating acne and eczema.


Chamomile is also an essential herb. Chamomile tea can help with indigestion, stomach cramps, menstrual cramps, colds, and congestion. It’s a very soothing herb, and can ease the symptoms of depression and anxiety as well. A little bit of chamomile tea in a baby’s bottle can help with colic and teething, allowing everyone in the home to get some sleep! The flower part of the plant can be put into a nice, hot bath which is beneficial for those suffering from eczema, hemorrhoids, cystitis, arthritis, or plain old stress.


Echinacea is an herb known all over the world for its healing properties. Taken in tea form, it can greatly reduce the symptoms of the common cold and flu or soothe a sore throat. Echinacea recharges the immune system and helps battle infection. It is an anti-inflammatory and can be made into an ointment that calms burns, insect bites, and cold sores.


Sage is an herb that can be used in the kitchen. It makes wonderful infusions for meats (including fish) and vegetables, as well as a tasty poultry seasoning. Sage can flavor baked goods such as breads, biscuits, and scones. Medicinally, it can be made into an antiseptic rinse for bites and wounds, or a tea for cough, depression, and various nervous disorders. Sage can also be used in the powder room. An astringent can be made to help pH balance oily skin by mixing it with some white vinegar. It also acts as breath freshener and can enhance toothpastes and mouth washes. In aromatherapy, the aroma of sage can be inhaled for a nice calming effect.


Lavender is a lovely herb to have in your garden. It is both beautiful to look at and useful in the home. The fragrance of lavender can be inhaled to ease the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and daily stress. It can be used to treat infections, the common cold, arthritis, joint pain, infections, and toothaches. You can put lavender right in your bath water to help you relax and de-stress. Lavender can be used in the kitchen and is a nice additive to teas and salads.


Mint has many medicinal uses. You can make a nice tea out of mint leaves, which can help with indigestion, upset stomach, and menstrual cramps. Mint can also help calm down a fussy baby. It is a beneficial herb to take internally for those suffering from arthritis and joint pain. You can use mint to make an exhilarating facial wash by soaking the leaves in cool water and refrigerating for a few hours. Mint has a variety of culinary uses as well. You can use it to flavor meats, vegetables, salads, jellies, and much more. It is also a common ingredient in many tasty Middle Eastern dishes.

Pot Marigold

Pot marigold is naturally anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory. It can be used to treat athlete’s foot and ringworm or made into an ointment to treat diaper rash and acne. As a beauty treatment, an infusion of pot marigold can be made to highlight the hair. It has its place in the kitchen, too, and the petals can be used to flavor fish, stews, and salads. It also makes a nice garnish for a variety of dishes.


Thyme is very useful in the home and can be utilized medicinally for many different ailments. In tea form, thyme helps treat respiratory infections and indigestion. It also helps reduce the symptoms of asthma and PMS. The tea can be given to children that suffer from nightmares to help them get a good night’s sleep. Thyme can be made into an ointment that can be used for cuts, rashes, burns, and sores of almost any kind. Thyme is very useful herb in the kitchen and can be used to season chicken, stuffing, and soup. It is an essential ingredient for pizza and spaghetti sauces, too. Thyme is a natural disinfectant–you can add it to your own homemade products to help you clean your home.


Ginseng is very beneficial to have growing outside your home. It strengthens all of the major organs in your body, regulates blood pressure, and helps with indigestion. It can be eaten raw or made into a tea or tincture. It energizes, improves memory, and is excellent for insomnia. Ginseng is a known aphrodisiac–men can drink ginseng tea to help with impotence.


Parsley is not just a garnish you find on your plate! This herb has many uses, both medicinal and culinary. It’s an immune system booster and helps fight the common cold, improve circulation, and battle a variety of infections. Parsley is a natural diuretic and helps prevent water retention and bloating when taken in tea form. It soothes pain from arthritis and is also known to reduce complications in those burdened with cancer. Parsley can also be made into a paste or ointment and applied to the skin to reduce swelling from bug bites. It is an excellent source of vitamins A, B, C, and K. Add it to your favorite soups and salads for both taste and nutritional value. Parsley is a natural breath freshener, too!

Guest post from Bailey Harris. Bailey writes for the Health Insurance Blog.

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