Medicinal Herbs to Grow During Quarantine

My 2020 Pandemic Herb Garden

I moved last September and am starting a garden at my new home. I was planning to grow my favourite perennial herbs and lots of veggies, and when shopping online for seeds last month, I broadened my selection to include herbs that may be useful during this pandemic.  Here are my pandemic-specific choices for my quarantine herb garden.

Garlic
Allium sativum

This food/medicine would have been found in gardens centuries ago, and is documented as one of the primary remedies during the black plague and Spanish flu.  It is a must as part of the daily diet, 1 clove daily, raw, for prevention and more as needed when there are signs of infection (of any kind). I have stopped sore throats and colds from worsening on many occasions with the help of garlic. It helps to loosen phlegm and cough it up.  It contains organosulfur compounds which have been shown to assist with liver detoxification, inflammation, cancer prevention, anti-oxidant. Allicin, a sulfuric compound, is expelled by the body via the lungs, which helps to explain its use as a respiratory remedy. If garlic is too hot (pungent) a tincture or vinegar extract can be used. Other members of the Allium family share many of these benefits (onions, shallots, leeks).

Baikal skullcap
Scutellaria baicalensis

This is one of the herbs I stocked up on early, when the pandemic was beginning to spread from China.  It is an ancient remedy in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for treating a wide variety of ailments, including infections, cancer, liver disease and arthritis. It is currently being used by TCM practitioners in China to treat Covid19.  A beautiful, purple flowered perennial herb; its roots are harvested in the fall.  

Boneset
Eupatorium perfoliatum

Perennial, native to N. America, traditionally used by first nations peoples and introduced to early settlers. There is documented evidence of this herb being used in the US during the Spanish flu. It’s name is derived from its use to treat “breakbone fever”, the extreme aches and pains that accompany flu.  The aerial parts, taken as hot tea, are used to manage fever. It is also a bitter, used to stimulate liver and digestive function.  There are many other Native and traditional uses for this local “weed”.

medicinal herb elecampaneElecampane
Inula helenium 

I use this herb as a lung tonic and expectorant, to clear excess mucus from the lungs. It also contains volatile and bitter compounds, which stimulate digestion. The roots, harvested in the fall, are quite large; one to two plants yield enough root to make 3-5 litres of tincture. It is best to wait 2-3 years before harvesting; in the meantime it will add beauty, with its tall stem and yellow flowers that attract pollinators.

 

Horehound
Marrubium vulgare

This is a classic lung remedy, used for many centuries throughout the UK and Europe, to ease cough and congestion. The leaf is used, as an infusion, cough syrup or lozenge – it is one of the main ingredients in the Ricola cough candies.  As a member of the mint family, it is easy to grow, and will come back each year, producing a flower after the 3rd or 4th year.  It is an aromatic bitter, thus also helpful for indigestion and to enhance metabolism.  

Marshmallow
Althaea officinalis

I intend to grow this as a centre point in my garden, due to its beauty, and its medicinal and nutritional properties. It is a beautiful, bushy plant with edible leaves and flowers. The root and leaves contain a type of carbohydrate that is mucilaginous, especially when extracted with water.  This is a reliable remedy for irritated mucous membranes and dryness, thus helpful for treating sore throat, dry cough, ulcers and inflammation.  I appreciate it immensely due to the rapid relief it brings to these conditions.

 

Elder
Sambucus nigra/canadensis 

This was the first medicinal plant that I installed in my garden last fall; I have six elder trees, hoping they will produce an abundance of fruits and flowers for various medicinal preparations. Elderflower makes a sweet tasting tea, I use it in blends for managing fever, and as a gentle nerve and tummy relaxant.  The berries are effective against common cold and flu viruses; it is too soon to know if they are equally effective against Covid19, but I have and will use them as an immune stimulant at early signs of infection.

 

This pandemic herb garden will be a great start to my garden that will continue to be useful in post-pandemic times.

These are but a few of the medicines available for use during the pandemic.  I will grow others such as thyme, sage, yarrow, peppermint, hyssop, calendula, nettle and mullein, knowing they too will be supportive, when needed, for dealing with viral infections and possible ongoing manifestations of this pandemic.  

 

My garden will also include nerve tonics, my favorites being skullcap, lemon balm, oatseed and wood betony, for those stressful moments along the way.

 

The act of creating this medicine garden brings me peace of mind and hope, both important for optimal immune and mental health during these unprecedented times. I hope you have spaces to grow herbal remedies. Some of these herbs are growing at the Bloom garden, you are welcome to go on a self-guided tour. I look forward to inviting you to my garden once the distancing restrictions are lifted.  

 

Vegan S’mores Fudgesicles with Marshmallow

These fudgy vegan s’mores fudgesicles are delicious and good for the digestive tract. They contain two special ingredients that set them apart from other fudgesicles, and make them really creamy and delicious.

Vegan S'Mores fudgesicles cover Marshmallow root is soothing for the digestive system. One of its medicinal actions is “demulcent” which is the internal equivalent of “emollient.” If you think of putting a soothing cream on irritated skin, that’s what a demulcent does for the mucous membranes of your digestive tract. It’s cooling, moistening, and anti-inflammatory. 

 

The other special ingredient is high in fibre, and complements chocolate really well. I’ve snuck it in other chocolate treats like chocolate pudding, and it’s a delicious way to add a bit of nutrition to your treats, and nobody will ever guess what it is. It’s ….. prune baby food!! Sounds crazy, right? I know, but TRUST ME, you’ll love it!

Smooth Move Vegan S’Mores Fudgesicles

For the Base 

200ml coconut milk
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp marshmallow root powder
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp prune baby food
2 tbsp cold water

For the Magic Shell Dip

2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp maple syrup
Pinch of salt

For the Garnish

100ml coconut milk
2 tbsp marshmallow powder
½ tsp vanilla extract
stevia powder to taste (optional)
Vegan graham crackers

 

Instructions 

I use a quick-pop maker for these, but you can make them with any paddle-shaped freezer pop mold. I will give instructions for both methods.

 

Prepare the dip in advance if using a quick pop maker, or just before you take them out of the freezer if using normal molds. Whisk magic shell dip ingredients together until smooth. If the coconut oil is solid, microwave for just a few seconds at a time until it is liquid. Do not overheat it or it will melt your pops!

Make the Chocolatey Vegan S’Mores Base

Get your popsicle molds ready at your cooking station. Marshmallow is a thickener, and you’ll want to work quickly to pour the mix into the molds before the batter gets too thick. 

 

In a 2c measuring cup, whisk together the base ingredients. 

Pour into molds and freeze.

 

ZOKU: It’s really important that the “batter” is free-flowing, and not too thick and pudding-like. If it’s too thick, whisk in more cold water, 1 tbsp at a time.

Dip the Pops in the Magic Shell

Place parchment paper on a cold plate and set aside. Working quickly, remove the pops from the mold one at a time. Hold over a clean bowl while you spoon or pour the chocolate dip over the pops. Rotate the pops so the chocolate coats evenly and drips down into the bowl. The dip will harden very quickly.

 

Place the finished pop on the parchment and return to the freezer immediately. Repeat with remaining pops, and put them back in the freezer as you finish dipping them.

 

Another option instead of dipping is to lay all the pops on parchment and drizzle the chocolate in lines across them. 

Garnish with Vegan Marshmallow and Graham Crackers

These will be delicious (and less messy) without the graham crackers, but they won’t be as s’more-y. So if you really want vegan s’mores instead of just fudgesicles, the extra effort is worth it. 

 

For the marshmallow paste, whisk together the coconut milk, marshmallow powder, and vanilla. Chill until firm. Carefully spoon a dollop of marshmallow paste onto each side of the pop, and gently press a graham cracker into the paste. 

 

Notes: 

I like Arroy D coconut milk, because it doesn’t have guar gum in it. I prefer the texture. 

 

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My Herbal Medicine Healing Story

Years ago, at the onset of my studies in herbal medicine, I was struggling with a lingering illness.  I consulted with a herbalist and the results boosted my confidence in the career path I had chosen.

 

When I was in my early twenties, travelling in India, I got dysentery, which is a debilitating infection of the intestinal system. I’ve never been more ill  and miserable, I thought I would die. I was in bed for three days with fever, delirium, diarrhea, and vomiting, followed by another three days in bed, too weak to get up.

 

The only thing I could consume was peppermint tea. I was unwell for many days after and never fully recovered from the infection. I continued to experience diarrhea, bloating, gas and digestive pain for the duration of my travels and my eventual return to Canada.  

 

By the time I arrived in Vancouver to begin my herbal studies I had been living with a chronic bowel condition for six months.

Healed by Herbal Medicine

Thankfully, I found my way to Gaia Garden Herbals and attended their student training clinic (much like ours at Bloom). I consulted with a herbal practitioner and several herbal medicine students, who created a herbal and dietary protocol to address my digestive health. I took a herbal tea three times daily, a tincture and a paste made from marshmallow root powder.

marshmallow blossomOnce I started taking herbal medicine, my recovery was rapid.

 

Within about one week I had noticeable improvements. By the time I returned for my first follow-up session a month later I was feeling 50% better. After three months following this program I was 95% better, and my condition continued to improve as long as I ate a healthy diet.

 

This was my first personal experience of herbal healing and the launch into my career as a herbal practitioner. It was a truly inspirational start to a twenty-year path of herbal healing.

Holistic Herbal Wellness Course

Discovering herbal medicine has changed my life in a profound way, and I’ve made it my life’s work to share this knowledge with others. That’s why I created the Holistic Herbal Healing course 15 years ago. In this course you’ll learn the value of the healing plants all around you. We’ll go outside and meet the plants in their habitats, learn how to harvest them and make medicines with them. You’ll learn about the systems of your body and how using whole-plant medicines can support your general health year-round, and treat specific conditions when needed.

 

There are healing plants all around you, just waiting to be discovered.

 

Learn more about Holistic Herbal Wellness program here.