Backyard Pharmacy: Can Your Garden Help Cut Your Drug Bill?

Look out of your back window, and most likely you’ll see a yard covered with grass. Practical, functional, and maybe even quite attractive in its own way.

But what you might not realize is that this square of green could become your own personal pharmacy – and so provide you a great opportunity to save money. That potential can be unlocked, with a little green-fingered deftness, by simply filling out your borders – but growing plants chosen for their therapeutic potential, not just their aesthetic appeal. With many of us looking for ways to rein in our spending, this sort of help with trimming the household drug bill is worth looking into.

But where to start, with making the most of the healing potential of plants? No matter how effective the remedies derived from them, the last thing you want to do start splashing out on expensive and exotic plants and shrubs. We’re trying to keep it frugal here, after all. Luckily, money doesn’t have to get in the way. If you get hold of a good book on modern herbalism, you’ll quickly see that many of the most useful medicines are derived from easy-to-grow herbs – or even plants that grow naturally in the wild.

One example is a plant that most lawn-lovers curse – the yellow-headed Dandelion. But its spiky leaves are a useful, and gentle, liver tonic. Dandelion is also reputed to aid digestive disorders, such as constipation and indigestion. The white milk latex, which bleeds out when the stem is broken, can be used to help eliminate warts and calluses. Not bad for something most consider as a weed.

Calendula, or Pot Marigold, with its bright orange-golden flowers, is a much loved contributor to many ornamental flower borders. But it also has many other practical medicinal benefits. One of the better known is the use of a poultice of its leaves, to aid wound healing – it is said to reduce wound inflammation. It can also help ease bee stings, if the flowers are rubbed directly onto the affected area.

Another pretty flower, that doubles up as a useful part of your drug cabinet, is Echinacea. With its beautiful purple and yellow flower heads, it makes a very attractive garden flower. But it is the leaves and roots that are most useful medicinally. They are said to be very effective, for many people, at reducing cold and flu symptoms, especially if taken when the cold first rears its ugly head. This is because the plant contains compounds that stimulate the immune system. It is rather bad tasting, so is often taken as just a few drops of solution, diluted in warm water or tea.

There are also many edible herbs, that, in addition to smelling or tasting great , have healing properties. Basil is definitely one of those high on the taste and aroma fronts, and it also aids in the suppressing of headaches, or even migraines. Apparently it does so by a mildly relaxing and sedative effect. This relieves tension, and so reduces the muscular tension which can make headaches so painful. Some also say it is equally soothing to the gut, helping it to calm and so reduce flatulence – equally beneficial to the sufferer and their companions!

This only touches upon the range of herbs and plants you can stock your garden with, to help in easing of minor complaints and ailments. They are usually simple to grow from seed – and once grown, you can save some of the seed each year – so you won’t have to pay out for more. That makes the transformation of your back yard into a pharmacy even more beneficial, to the bottom line of the household finances. But do make sure you do your research first. And always talk to a medical professional about any worrying symptoms that concern you, before totally relying on a herbal solution.

[Lisco Johnson is a stay at home dad who writes on the topic of air mattress.]
Image: BarefootGardener at Flickr

2 thoughts on “Backyard Pharmacy: Can Your Garden Help Cut Your Drug Bill?

  • Using just any herbs casually is a big mistake. Many of them need to be treated as medication and are commonly misused. Echinacea is a very strong blood purifier and should never be used for simple colds and flu. It is an antibiotic and should be used only for serious conditions that are bacterially based. Irresponsible use of herbs is dangerous. Find out the facts first and then herbs can be effective and helpful.


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