The Healing Power of an Herb Garden

Sweet Basil

Recently, someone asked me, “Do you have an herb garden and if so, which herbs do you grow?”

Thought I’d share the herbs I grow since herbs have many medicinal properties.  

Highlights of the herb garden are below.  Happy reading!


Peppermint, lavender mint, chocolate mint, apple mint and Egyptian mint offer variety and color to my garden.  Mint has been long known as an herbal remedy that eases queasy stomachs, calms stress and anxiety, and promotes restful sleep.  Peppermint tea is also viewed as an excellent way to calm the digestive tract and alleviate indigestion.

Italian Parsley 

Parsley is a versatile herb that provides a concentrated source of nutrients. It’s particularly rich in vitamins A, C, and K. 

The vitamins and beneficial plant compounds in parsley may improve bone health, protect against chronic diseases, and provide antioxidant benefits. You can incorporate dried or fresh leaves easily into your diet by adding them to soups, salads, marinades, and sauces. 

Lemon Balm 

Lemon balm is a perennial herb from the mint family.  The leaves have a mild lemon aroma.  It is used for anxiety, stress, insomnia, indigestion, dementia and many other conditions. 

Lemon balm has antiviral properties and appears to speed the healing of cold sores.  In addition, it repels gnats and mosquitoes. 


Basil may provide health benefits in the diet, as herbal medicine, and as an essential oil. 

Traditional uses include the treatment of snakebites, colds, and inflammation within nasal passages — a common effect of colds, for example.

Basil provides some macronutrients, such as calcium and vitamin K, as well as a range of antioxidants. 

Sweet basil, for example, has a high concentration of the chemical agent eugenol. This gives it a clove-like scent. Lime and lemon basils have high concentrations of limonene, which give them a citrusy scent. Both eugenol and limonene have antioxidant properties. 

Antioxidants are essential for eliminating free radicals from the body.

Free radicals are unstable molecules that develop as a result of metabolism and other natural processes. They can also form as a result of smoking and some dietary choices. 

Antioxidants are compounds that help remove these molecules from the body. If they build up instead, oxidative stress can occur, resulting in cell damage and, possibly, disease. 

Scientists have linked cancer, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and other health issues to oxidative stress. 

The body produces some antioxidants, but it also needs to absorb some from the diet. Among the many antioxidants in basil are anthocyanins and beta carotene. 


Lemongrass, my favorite, contains linalool, menthol, eugenol, geraniol, myrcene, and cinnamic aldehyde — all of which have antibacterial effects. Among these, cinnamic aldehyde possesses the greatest antimicrobial activity, while linalool provides the strongest antibacterial activity. Citral, geraniol, and myrcene exhibit the strongest antifungal activity. 

Traditionally, lemongrass has been used as a food ingredient, in cosmetics, and in folk medicine. Lemongrass is also used as a flavoring for non-alcoholic beverages, prepared dishes, and baked goods, and the essential oil has been used to preserve food due to its antimicrobial activities.  Lemongrass decoction is a popular beverage served hot or cold in Peru, Brazil, Cuba, and India. In Thailand, lemongrass is known as takrai and commonly is used in Thai dishes such as curries, soups such as tom kha, and in marinades for meat. In Vietnam, lemongrass is added to salads, and in Java, it is used to prepare a sherbet.  Its aromatic oil is prized in soaps, perfumes, candles, and mosquito or insect repellents. 

Lemongrass has a history of medicinal use among several cultures worldwide for a variety of conditions including digestive disorders, fevers, menstrual disorders, joint pain, inflammation, and nervous conditions. In the Philippines, lemongrass tea is used to soothe stress, alleviate colds, fevers, and gastrointestinal distress, and manage pain and arthritis. In the Paraná state in southern Brazil, lemongrass is a preferred herbal medicine for pain relief and to sedate or calm the central nervous system. In India, Cuba, Indonesia, and Brazil, lemongrass infusions/teas are used to treat bladder disorders (including inflammatory conditions of the urinary tract), urinary incontinence, and kidney stones. In Nigeria, hot water extracts of lemongrass are used to treat hypertension, obesity, and diabetes mellitus. It is also used there in the treatment of malaria, to lower fevers, and to kill protozoa. 

Lemongrass has traditional uses as an antibacterial, antifungal, antiprotozoal, anxiolytic, and antioxidant.  The essential oils derived from the steam-distillation of lemongrass leaves have shown activity against 20 different bacteria (including Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Proteus vulgaris, Enterobacter faecalis, Salmonella, and Shigella), seven different yeasts (including Candida albicans), and 15 different fungi (including common food-storage fungi). 

In vitro studies have shown that lemongrass essential oil can be more effective than antibiotics against a certain pathogenic bacteria. Lemongrass oil appears to increase the range of action of phenoxyethanol (a preservative for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and home care products) against E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.  As antibiotic resistance becomes more common, the use of lemongrass essential oil shows promise in the control of a wide range of bacterial infections.

Now that you know, which herbs will you grow?

Photographs courtesy of


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