Hello! I’m Morgan, author of Not Your Typical Hippie and your guest poster for Backyard Herbs for Beginners! I’m a self-taught herbalist and plant lover trying to live as environmentally friendly as possible. Improving your health with herbs can be a little daunting, but it can be done! Here are some of my favourite and easy to use herbs for beginners that you can even find in your own backyard.
Dandelions are found all around the world and are often considered weeds. They may be an eyesore in your lawn but are great for both bees and us. All parts of the dandelion are edible. Leaves are a very popular addition in salads, while the roots are sold as tea. Both the leaves and the roots act as a diuretic, and the leaves are full of many beneficial vitamins and minerals. Native Americans would use the dandelion to treat kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, and upset stomachs. In Europe they used it to treat fevers, boils, eye problems, diabetes, and diarrhoea. As beneficial as the dandelion can be, you’ll want to avoid it if you’re allergic to latex, ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigold, chamomile, yarrow, daisies, or iodine.
When people first hear of the plantain they often think of the banana like plant. These are actually two different plants! The plantain is another one of those that people usually consider a weed. This plant is best known for its ability to soothe bug bites and sunburns. Best used as a salve or a poultice, the plantain is known to have antimicrobial, antioxidant, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
You can pretty much find lavender scented anything nowadays. It not only has a wonderful scent but also many medicinal properties. A known sedative, it is also an antispasmodic, diuretic, digestive aid, and gas remedy. Lavender essential oils are commonly used in aromatherapy and for its antiseptic properties. The oil is easily added to salves and the flowers added to tea. Just smelling the lavender leaves in hot water can help aid in sleep. Dried lavender stems can be bundles into smudge stick and burned. It’s one of the easiest herbs to find due to its popularity.
Elderberry is such a wonderful plant and one I recommend everybody have on hand. One of the best things to do is to make a syrup or tincture with the berries. Very high in vitamin C, elderberry has also been proven to help treat and prevent the flu. I like to take it every day throughout the cold and flu season. There is a lot of folklore surrounding the elderberry plant. In Ireland, elderberry was once considered a sacred tree. The Danish believed that the elder plant was protected by Hyldemor, the Elder Mother. This plant has a lot of history and is very beneficial herb to have in your cabinet.
So, honey isn’t exactly an herb but it is something I also suggest everyone have. Honey has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Because of these properties, honey is great both internally and topically. Better in its raw state, it can be used to treat digestion issues, irritating coughs, insomnia, skin disorders, lung issues, anaemia, and various eye ailments. The Egyptians loved honey so much they offered it to their gods as well as including it in almost all of their medicine. It is important to use raw honey rather than just regular honey because it contains more of its medicinal properties than processed honey.
You can get these herbs and more at your local health store or at one of my favorite online stores, Starwest Botanicals.
You can read more about these herbs and how to identify them and other ways to use them on Plant Profile section of my blog.
A huge thank you to Morgan for taking the time to write for us! If you’re interested in herbs, head over to Not Your Typical Hippie for heaps more information, herb guides, and even DIYs!