The Healing Power of Indoor Herbs: How & What to Grow
By Gardenuity Grow Pro Team Leaders Meghan Peoples and Lula Weller
Medicinal herbs have always captivated me. In fact, they’re the reason I initially decided to study horticulture. To me, there’s something fascinating about herbs’ history — especially the unique partnership humans and herbs have formed over time.
Throughout time, herbs’ potent aroma and flavor have inspired art, poetry, songs, and mythology. They were the drivers of trade and exploration, bringing the first Europeans to the Americas and spreading various herbs throughout the world. In spite of this spread, herbs still give a distinctive sense of place. When you taste rosemary and oregano, you think Mediterranean cuisine, while the scent saffron is immediately linked to Indian food.
Beyond all this, herbs have been prized for their amazing healing properties throughout history. Truly, herbs are the foundation of both traditional and modern medicine. Long ago, herbs were our medicine, food, and culture, so we carried them with us as we moved. If you go to the sites of old homesteads, you can still find mint and oregano establishing themselves.
Then, as our lives changed and industries shifted, herbs followed us indoors. Now, we still celebrate the role herbs play in recipes and the beauty they bring to our window sill, but we’ve seemingly forgotten the healing power of herbs.
With the high-tech appearance of modern medicine, we sometimes doubt that nature could produce anything that compares. But, research shows that it does. Herbs treat holistically, meaning they don’t just treat the symptoms of a problem, but rather attack the root itself.
The medicinal value of herbs comes from their oils — also known as essential oils. These oils are compounds within the plant that are used to defend against leaf-chewing insects, attract pollinators, or fight off harmful fungus and bacteria. Sometimes, the oils can even serve as a way for plants to communicate, signaling to other plants prepare for an attack.
5 HERBS WE LOVE AND THEIR HEALTH BENEFITS
- Reduces excessive sweating and salivation
- Regulates women’s hormones and reduces pre-menstrual syndrome and menopause symptoms
- Relieves respiratory problems, including asthma
- Neuroprotective: used to treat Alzheimer’s, dementia, and depression improve appetite and prevent gas
- Enhances memory
- Carnosic acid prevents brain damage and neurodegeneration to the hippocampus
- Potential is promising for treating cancer
- Gets rid of bad breath and helps heal mouth sores
- Treats tonsillitis, laryngitis, bronchitis, whooping cough, asthma, and congestion (crush and apply to outside of neck to reduce throat infections!)
- Reduces nervous exhaustion
- Aromatherapy queen: relieves headaches and depression
- Clears acne
- Accelerates wound healing
- Calms upset stomachs upsets and relieves gas
- Prevents nausea induced by motion sickness
- Relieves itching and burning produced by allergies and inflammation through topical application
- Mild analgesic action: reduces headaches and muscle cramps
GUIDE TO GROWING HERBS INDOORS
Growing herbs indoors can sometimes be tricky. Water and light are the keys to happy indoor plants. Plants can’t talk but they are excellent communicators. To learn their language you have to learn to read the signs. But once you do, you’ll have healthy, happy herbs ready to share their medicinal benefits.
DIRECTION MATTERS! When choosing a home for your indoor herb, South and West are ideal. East is also good, but avoid the cool shadows of the Northside. If you’re having trouble figuring out which direction is what, ask yourself: In the evening, what window does the sun set in? That’s your west window.
REMEMBER: Windows are essentially sunscreen. They’re a filter that reduces the impact of light. This is great for you and your skin, but it can be tough on plants. So, the closer to a window, the better for growth.
TOO MUCH: In too intense a light, plants will burn. The leaves get crispy with brown edges or sometimes look wilted.
TOO LITTLE: In too little light, plants shed layers. A little shedding is normal and healthy, but a lot is an issue. Plants also stretch to find light, so the space between leaves increases and they start to look floppy.
WATER WELL! When your plant is dry, pull the plastic liner from your bamboo box. Then, soak the soil until water runs through the drainage holes at the base of the pot. Drip dry.
REMEMBER: Between waterings, the soil should dry slightly. Enemy No. 1 of indoor growing is overwatering. Plants use very little energy when indoors. If excess water hangs out around the root system, the roots can’t breathe, and the plant starts to decline.
TOO MUCH: Brown dead leaves and stems at soil level tells you a plant is trying to retreat — they hate wet feet! Look for wilted soggy leaves and pests! Gnats and mealybugs take advantage of overwatered and weak plants.
TOO LITTLE: Wilted leaves are a plant’s SOS for water. When underwatered, leaves are dramatically dull and floppy. Consistent water stress leads to crisp leaves that curl back and turn brown at tips. Also, check for a soil surface that is bone dry and pulling away from the container.
JUST RIGHT: Boom! Healthy, happy plants positively glow when they have moist soil and good light. Leaves are bright and bounce back when you touch them.
Indoor herbs will make your life tastier, happier, and healthier. We’ll make the growing easy for you so you can simply sit back and enjoy the benefits!
The information in this story is not intended to replace a one on one relationship with a qualified medical professional.