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Medicinal Herbs in the Garden

The Garden Pharmacy


Gardens are a source of beauty, tranquility, and sustenance; they also provide us with medicine. Chances are you have a pharmacy in your back yard that you aren’t aware of. The culinary herbs have medicinal properties, as do many of the common ornamentals, not to mention the weeds. The weeds are another story, but for now I would like to reacquaint you with some of your garden favorites. You may find there are already several medicinal herbs in your garden.



The pungently potent little leaves of this hardy herb contain over 75 known phytochemicals, 25% of them have been identified as having anti-oxidant properties.  This makes thyme a valuable protection remedy against oxidative damage at the cellular level.  It has a special affinity for the respiratory system and can be used to treat bronchitis, asthma, cough due to colds and sinus congestion.  It helps to ease indigestion, colic, flatulence and diarrhea.  Extracts of thyme have demonstrated significant inhibition of Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that infects gastric ulcers.  

Thyme can be used as a steam inhalation for respiratory disorders, or as a tea or tincture.  



This pleasant green is packed with nutrition – it is one of the richest food sources of vitamin C and contains high amounts of calcium, magnesium, iron and chlorophyll.  

For nutritional benefit, it is best eaten fresh as a salad green or as a base for a green sauce “recipe below”.  Its minerals can be extracted by steeping the fresh leaves in apple cider vinegar for two weeks, then strained and used to make salad dressing.  Medicinally it is used to treat kidney and bladder conditions such as infection and urinary stones. Its diuretic action can be applied to arthritic conditions such as gout and rheumatism to facilitate the removal of uric acid from the joints.  For these uses it is best taken as a tea.



There are hundreds of species of this savory herb and its medicinal use dates back to ancient times in many parts of the world.  Its traditional uses hold true today and in modern herbal medicine it is used to treat indigestion, throat inflammation, and to reduce sweating, particularly the hot flashes of menopause.  It is a valuable remedy for the nervous system and can help to ease anxiety and nervous tension, and recent studies show its value in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss.

Sage can be taken as a tea or tincture.

sage medicinal herbNasturtium

This orange/yellow flowered beauty brings vibrancy to the garden, pungency to the salad, healing to the skin, and medicine to the teapot.  The juice squeezed from the fresh leaf and flower can be applied directly to wounds for healing and to treat or prevent infection.  It has a reputation for improving hair growth when rubbed into the scalp.  The tea and tincture can be used for dry cough, pneumonia and bronchitis, and for urinary tract infections.

nasturtium medicinal herbJohnny Jump Ups 

These tri-coloured little beauties are found in many a garden.  It is primarily a skin remedy that can be used internally and externally as an infusion to treat conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne.  It is also a remedy for arthritis and respiratory disorders.  The fresh flowers add colour to salads, they contain a substance called rutin, which strengthens blood vessels.  In folk medicine a cup of tea made from this herb was reputed to ease a broken heart – hence another of its common names, heartsease.

The flowers and leaves can be used fresh or dried as a tea or tincture.

johnny jump up flowerBasil  

Contains high levels of vitamins A and C. Used for nervous irritability and has anti-depressant effects.  It eases indigestion, stomach upset and nausea.  Stimulates milk flow for nursing mothers.  The fresh juice has been used to treat warts and bug stings.  Makes a yummy tea or green sauce.



Mint is a summer herb; it is cooling for the body, internally and externally.  It can be used in a lotion or as a compress to reduce inflammation and pain from sunburn, and it is soothing on the itch from bug bites. As a digestive aid it will ease, gas, cramps and nausea. Peppermint is an old- time remedy for colds and flu with fever.  For this, it is typically combined with yarrow and elder flowers.  It brings symptomatic relief to asthma and bronchitis, and when inhaled clears nasal congestion.

To enjoy the cool delights of mint try adding the chopped fresh herb to salads, ice cream, dips, yogurt (recipe below), sauces and pasta.


Lady’s mantle 

As its common name implies, this herb is used to treat women’s health concerns.  It is a uterine tonic and can be used to normalize menstruation, and is astringent and helps to stop excessive bleeding both internally and externally.  Use it as a gargle for sore throat.  Its Latin name, Alchemilla, comes from ancient alchemists who held this plant in high esteem due to its many healing properties. The dew that collects in the flower cup was believed to hold magical, alchemic powers.

Its young leaves and flowering shoots can be dried and used as a tea, or made into a tincture.


Herbs are a potent source of preventative medicine – small daily doses added to food or teas help to enhance vitality and protection from dis-ease.  If herbal medicine is new to you, a good place to start is with the familiar culinary herbs which likely already have a place in your garden. 


Brewing a Medicinal Infusion

Gather the herbs fresh from the garden and rub off the dirt, then chop and bruise them with a mortar and pestle, or rolling pin.  For each cup of freshly boiled water use 2-3 tsp. fresh or 1-2 tsp. dry herb.  Cover the infusion while it steeps to retain the volatile oils, which offer aroma, flavour and medicine to the tea.  Let it steep for ten minutes, then strain and drink hot, or add ice for a cool summer drink.  

Recipes with Medicinal Herbs from the Garden

Green Sauce

1 cup olive oil

½ cup fresh green herb, one or a combination of (parsley, basil, lovage)

3 cloves fresh garlic

¼ cup pumpkin seeds

½ tsp. salt

¼-1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in the blender or food processor.

Use as sauce for fish, steamed or roast veggies, salads, pasta or as a dip for bread or crackers.


Raspberry & Mint Yogurt Drink

1 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup mineral water

3 tbsp. honey  

3 oz raspberries

¼ cup fresh mint leaves.


Puree all ingredients in the blender.  Pour into glasses and decorate with a sprig of mint.  Serve chilled.


lemon vegan meringue popsicles featured image

Quadruple Lemon Vegan Meringue Popsicles

These show-stopping lemon vegan meringue herbal popsicles are tangy, icy, and refreshing. They’re a bit of a labour of love, and you’ll have plenty of extra vegan meringue to make meringue cookies or pavlova, so get your brûlée torch ready!

lemon vegan meringue popsicles cover

These are the fifth and final instalment of my herbal popsicle series, and I really wanted to finish with a bang. What better way than to end with a recipe involving fire?


These are fun to make, but difficult to store, so I suggest taking the popsicles out of the freezer and topping them with meringue right when you’re ready to serve them. You’ll just squish the meringue if you try to put them in a container. Freeze the popsicles and prepare the meringue separately, and gather your popsicle-loving family and friends when you’re ready to assemble them. 


I call it “quadruple lemon” because the popsicle is made with a strong infusion of three lemon-scented herbs, plus fresh lemon juice. 


The vegan meringue is optional, but the sweetness is really nice to balance the tart popsicles. It’s made with aquafaba, which means “water of the beans” because it is made from the liquid from a can of chickpeas. Someone discovered that this liquid behaves like egg whites when whipped, and now it’s a popular vegan alternative to many dishes requiring that special fluff. There’s a Facebook group dedicated to sharing recipes and tips for using this wonderful new vegan egg replacer.

Yeild: 4 popsicles and way more meringue than you need

Base Ingredients

Handful of lemon-scented herbs: lemon balm, lemon verbena, lemon thyme + more for garnish if desired

3-4 stevia leaves

½ cup lemon juice (approx. juice of 2 large lemons)

3 tbsp maple syrup (or more to taste)

Vegan Meringue Ingredients

Liquid from a can of chickpeas

½ tsp cream of tartar

1” vanilla bean

1 cup organic cane sugar


Make the Lemon Popsicles

  1. Make a strong infusion with the lemony herbs and stevia by steeping them in about a cup of boiling water for 10 minutes.
  2. In a measuring cup, mix ½ cup lemon juice, ¾ cup of the lemon herbal infusion and 3 tbsp maple syrup. Whisk. Taste for sweetness, add more maple syrup to taste if you like. Don’t forget that if you are doing the meringue, it’s basically sugary air so you won’t need to make the popsicle base as sweet as you might if you’re eating the base without the meringue.
  3. Optional – place thyme sprigs or herb leaves in the molds before pouring in the liquid. 
  4. The maple syrup will settle, so whisk thoroughly and quickly pour into molds immediately.
  5. Freeze


The Vegan Meringue made with Aquafaba

Because you need to open a can of chickpeas and use the liquid for this recipe, you might as well use all of the liquid. This makes WAY more meringue than you need so you might want to also plan to make pavlova or meringue cookies. 

Strain a can of chickpeas and reserve the liquid.


Cut the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds out into a medium bowl. Add the sugar. Mix the sugar and the vanilla seeds.You’ll still have some vanilla clumps at this point, but they’ll blend out in the mixer.


In a stand mixer, beat the chickpea liquid for 1 minute. Add the cream of tartar. Beat until incorporated. 


Start adding the sugar-vanilla mix 1 tbsp at a time. Wait until it’s mixed in before adding the next tablespoon.


The vegan meringue will get thick and glossy as you add more sugar. When all the sugar is added, beat until you can’t feel any granules when you pinch a bit of meringue between your fingers. If the meringue still feels grainy, continue beating it. 


Now for the fun part!

Get everything you’ll need ready: the prepared meringue, a brûlée torch, herb leaves or sprigs for garnish, and people ready to eat popsicles, because as I mentioned, they don’t store well once they’re decorated. Oh, and get your camera because you’ll want to Instagram these ones!

all the lemon vegan meringue popsicles

Loosen the popsicles from the mold. One at a time, take a big spoonful of meringue and make a dollop on top on each popsicle, that goes covers it about ¼ of the way down the popsicle. Swirl it around until you’re happy with the shape. You want to have some texture for scorching, so don’t make it too smooth. I imagined I was trying to get it to look like a soft serve ice cream cone with swirly ridges spiralling upwards. It was less possible in reality than in my imagination, but swirling the spoon around gave some texture to the blob. 

Scorching the Meringue


If you haven’t used a brûlée torch before, I recommend practicing. Smear some meringue on a heat-proof plate and try scorching that first. You’ll find you want the flame parallel to the surface of the meringue or it will deform the meringue. Slowly move the flame toward the ridges of the meringue and you’ll see it will get tiny bubbles and quickly toast and then burn so keep moving the flame around. 


With your brûlée torch in one hand and a meringued popsicle in the other hand, light the torch. Point both the flame and the pop away from you so they’re roughly parallel. Slowly move the flame toward the meringue, and scorch the ridges of the meringue. 


Garnish with a leaf or sprig of lemony herbs. The tiny leaves off the top of a lemon verbena or lemon balm make a cute garnish. Take photos for Instagram.

Using the Rest of the Vegan Meringue

Here’s a detailed tutorial about making this vegan meringue, and how to flavour and bake meringue cookies. 

There are also lots of delicious pavlova recipes out there that you could make with the rest of the meringue.

In case you missed Herbal Popsicle Month, here’s a roundup of my previous herbal popsicles:


lemon vegan meringue popsicles pin

Plant-Based Rose Tahini Herbal Popsicles

These delicious freezer pops are inspired by flavours of Middle Eastern desserts, and enhanced by the fragrant herb, sweet woodruff. 

Rose Tahini Herbal Popsicles |

While we were experimenting with herbal iced teas at Bloom, I discovered that rose and sweet woodruff make a great combination, so I wanted to create a delicious popsicle based on that combination. Since rose is often used in Middle Eastern desserts, I looked to that cuisine for flavour inspiration. The result is a creamy popsicle with a subtle floral flavour. And they’re beautiful!

Energetically, rose is good for the heart, and sweet woodruff was traditionally used as a medicinal tea that is beneficial to the heart, regulating its activity.

These herbs in these herbal popsicles may have some minor heart benefit, but I think indulging in these luxurious pops is a soothing treat for your heart in and of itself!

The base is coconut milk infused with the rose and sweet woodruff, and a bit of tahini makes the texture extra creamy. I normally sweeten my freezer pops with maple syrup, but these are sweetened with honey with a nod to baklava. 

I took them to the next level with a vegan white chocolate magic shell and a sprinkle of chopped pistachios. 

Yield: This recipe is for 3 ice pops made with a Zoku. Increase the recipe to suit your number of molds. 

For the Herbal Popsicle Base

220 ml coconut milk

Rose petals

½ tsp rose water

Sweet woodruff leaves

1 ½  tbsp tahini

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp water


For the White Chocolate Magic Shell

adapted from Will Frolic For Food

¼ cup cacao butter

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp tahini

1” vanilla bean

2 tbsp icing sugar


Make the Base

Rose Tahini Herbal Popsicle base |

Rose Tahini Herbal Popsicles before dipping |

Place coconut milk, water, sweet woodruff, and rose petals in a small pot and bring to a boil. Stir well. Remove from heat, steep 10 minutes. Strain out the petals and leaves. Stir in tahini and honey. Let cool completely. Pour into freezer pop molds. Freeze.

Finely chop the pistachios and set aside.

Dip the Pops

Over medium low heat, melt the cacao butter and coconut oil together. Remove from heat. Scrape out seeds from 1” of vanilla bean pod and add to the oil mix. Stir in tahini. Sift in icing sugar and stir until smooth. 

Note: Vanilla extract won’t work in this recipe — fat and water don’t mix. 

rose tahini herbal popsicles | bloominstitute.caPlace parchment paper on a cold plate and set aside. Working quickly, remove the frozen 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. Immediately dip the pops in the chopped pistachios. 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.

Rose Tahini Herbal Popsicles | bloominstitute.caAnother option instead of dipping is to lay all the pops on parchment and drizzle the chocolate in lines across them and sprinkle the pistachios on.

Rose Tahini Herbal Popsicles |


Plant-Based Rose Tahini Herbal Popsicles |

superfood popsicle feature

“Blood Orange” Schizandra Superfood Popsicles Recipe

These delicious, tangy, floral superfood popsicles look like blood orange because of the red centre and orange shell, but they’re actually cherry-schizandra flavoured. 

superfood popsicle coverYou can easily make the cherry base with any popsicle mold, but I’m sorry to say that the only way that I know of to make the orange shell is with a Quick Pop Maker. I’ll give instructions for the orange shell, but just ignore that part if you don’t have one. The black cherry base is delicious all on its own.

Black cherries are a potent superfood with many health benefits. The juice is high in anthocyanins, which are anti-inflammatory and naturally pain-relieving. Consuming black cherries regularly can help with joint-related disorders such as arthritis.They also contain tryptophan (of turkey fame) and melatonin, which both promote good sleep. And like other colourful fruits, they are high in anti-oxidants which are good for the immune system, and preventing disease.


Schizandra is an adaptogen, which is a category of tonic herbal medicines that build overall resiliency, and activate digestion and liver function. It is used to combat fatigue under physical stress and to increase endurance. 


Step 1: Make Schizandra Syrup.

¼ cup schizandra berries

1-2 inch piece of orange zest, peeled off with a peeler

250ml water

100 ml honey


Gently boil the schizandra berries in the water for 15 minutes. Strain. Stir the honey into the liquid before it cools. Mix well. Let cool. Store in the fridge. 

Make the shell (optional)

For this option you’ll need a Quick Pop maker and a straw (preferably a reusable one)

Pour OJ into the ice pop mold, wait 30 seconds, drink out the liquid orange juice from the middle. If you’re concerned about hygiene, you can also use a slim turkey baster to suck the liquid out. 


Make the Superfood Popsicles Base

250 ml black cherry juice

3 tbsp schizandra syrup

1 tsp orange flower water

Mix in a 2c measuring cup. 

Pour into freezer pop molds or into Quick Pop mold with prepared Orange Shell. 

Freeze and enjoy! 


superfood popsicles pinAugust is Medicinal Freezer Pop month – check out last week’s recipe for Vegan S’mores Fudgesicles with marshmallow root powder, and stay tuned next week for a sophisticated Baklava-inspired popsicle.

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



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. 



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