It's inevitable. Summer will fade into crunchy leaves and cozy sweaters. Soon after that, we'll have snow and ice to contend with. Holiday shopping lists. And the ultimate dread of winter: cold and flu season. But while there's still a little time left to tend to your organic garden, consider growing these medicinal herbs to use when the sniffles finally catch up to you. Grow them either outside or indoors for year-round use.
1. Thyme: This culinary herb can easily grow in your kitchen or in your garden and is most beneficial during cold and flu season. An expectorant, it can help move coughs and lung infections out of the body quickly. Thymol, an active compound in thyme is antimicrobial and may help to kill off the bugs in your body. There are several uses: you can eat or drink lots of it (your tea will taste a bit like Thanksgiving stuffing), and you can inhale the vapors by making a nasal steam with the fresh or dried thyme leaves. Drop a big handful into the tub for a steamy soak, too.
2. Mint: Another easy kitchen herb to grow, mint is a great soother for upset tummies—whether from the flu or too many Christmas cookies. Fresh mint can go right into hot water for tea, or you can dry the leaves. You can also add these to your thyme steam or warm bath for arometherapeutic benefits.
3. Rosemary: The fragrant rosemary leaf is loaded with antioxidants, including vitamins A, C, D, E and K. It's a powerful antiseptic that may help reduce the length of a cold or flu and bring relief to chest and nasal congestion. A truly hardy shrub, rosemary is a gorgeous addition to your garden, and it will also grow well indoors in a kitchen herb garden. Use the fresh leaves in tea, steams or tubs to relieve symptoms. Along with thyme, you can add fresh rosemary leaves to a veggie broth too for an added medicinal boost.
4. Echinacea: You'll benefit best from taking Echinacea before you get sick, as that's how it seems to be most effective. So, once you start feeling a bit more tired than normal, or people around you are dropping like flies, you'll be happy you grew these beautiful flowers. While it's best to start these in early summer, if you're in a warmer climate, you'll have no problem growing the gorgeous coneflowers now. Once they bloom, harvest the leaves and buds and let dry by hanging outside or in a dry part of the home. Cover with cheesecloth or a paper bag with holes in it to prevent bugs or dust settling on the flowers. Once dried, you can brew into a tea, which will have mild flavor. Drink 2–4 cups per day.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
Image: Nomadic Lass