With people becoming more health conscious and aspiring to a more holistic lifestyle, more value is being attached to natural remedies and preventive health.
While growing herbs is generally seen as a summer activity, there’s no reason why you can’t grow certain winter-hardy herbs that are excellent home remedies for winter ailments such as coughs, colds or influenza. Given our sunny days and warm midday temperatures, all you need is a sheltered corner in the garden, a sunny windowsill or balcony.
For asthma, coughs, colds, flu, sore throats, rheumatism
This bushy, evergreen shrub with spikes of blue flowers grows well in pots, reaching 60 – 90cm. It likes a sunny position and can be easily grown indoors. It also tolerates quite cold weather. Grow in light, well-drained soil. Both the leaves and flowers can be used, either dried or in an infusion. The leaves’ peppery taste makes a good addition to thick soups, chunky pasta sauces and casseroles. Caution: Do not take when pregnant as it can cause muscle spasms.
Acts as an antibiotic, also treats head colds, coughs, fatigue, influenza, lung ailments, soothes sore throats.
There are several varieties of this perennial herb, the most common being Thymus vulgaris, Thymus citriodorus (lemon scented thyme) and Thymus serpyllum (creeping thyme). The common thyme is a small bushy plant, about 30cm high. It needs sun and well-drained soil – so don’t let the water stand in the saucer under the pot. The more the leaves are picked the better it does. An infusion, especially of lemon-scented thyme, helps relieve coughs and colds.
Has anti-fungal and antiseptic properties.
Use as a gargle for throat and moth infections, also for coughs, colds and influenza)
This hardy perennial has greyish green leaves that are very aromatic. It also grows about 30cm high and thrives in pots, provided they are kept in a sunny position. This herb is more tender than the others and may need nursing. Sage doesn’t like water on its leaves or waterlogged soil. Trim the bush after flowering to retain its shape.
To make a Sage gargle infuse 3 teaspoons fresh or 102 teaspoons dried leaves in a cup of boiling water for 15 minutes, strain and cool. Gargle three times a day.
Caution: Avoid heavy or extended dosages and don’t use medicinally if pregnant, breastfeeding, or suffer from any seizure disorders.
Contains vitamins A and C and apigenin which reduces allergic responses and is an effective anti-oxidant. Relieves fevers, bronchitis, conjunctivitis, coughs, joint pain.
Familiarity may breed contempt but Parsley really is an indispensable herb. A biennial prefers well-drained deep rich soil in sun or partial shade and if planted in a pot, needs full sun. Always pick the outer leaves and extend the plant’s life by cutting off the flowering head. Prepare an infusion from fresh leaves. In the kitchen, always add parsley towards the end of the cooking time.
Caution: Do not use Parsley medicinally if pregnant or have a kidney disease.
Relieves arthritis, asthma, chapped skin, colds, cystitis, fever, infections, influenza, rheumatism, sinusitis.
This plant is mainly grown as a medicinal herb but it also makes a beautiful garden flower because of its prolific pink and white flowers and feathery foliage. It grows and multiplies very easily, preferring rich moist soil and a sunny position. It is not suitable for growing indoors but can be a beautiful pot plant in a sheltered, sunny position. The leaves are rather bitter when used as a tea, so add peppermint and a teaspoon of honey.
Caution: Avoid during pregnancy and avoid extended use.