Perennial Medicinal Herbs

Perennial medicinal herbs are easily grown in pots or in a small garden and provide the benefits of their year-round healing qualities. Many of these herbs exhibit pungent and aromatic characteristics not found in the dry, store-bought alternatives. In colder months, the herbs can be moved indoors to a windowsill, preferably one that is facing south and receives sunlight. Some perennial herbs take a couple of years to reach their blooming stage, but fully-grown herbs can be purchased from a trusted, organic, local nursery.

Aloe

Needing infrequent watering, aloe is a succulent herb that is very easy to grow and it hosts a wide array of healing properties for the skin and the digestive system. Aloe vera is the juice obtained from the aloe herb and contains anti-inflammatory properties as well as 18 known amino acids. The dry leaves contain a latex that is commonly administered orally as a mild laxative. Traditionally, aloe vera is used as a skin moisturizer and healer of minor wounds. It has a cooling effect, which also helps soothe sunburns. The aloe vera gel, as well as any salves made from the gel, can be used safely and sparingly. As a laxative the common dosage is 0.04-0.17 grams of dried juice per day.

Feverfew

Feverfew comes from the Latin word "febrifugia," which means "fever reducer." A member of the daisy family, this herb is most commonly used to eliminate headaches, relieve the symptoms of arthritis and reduce fevers. Feverfew is very bitter in taste, making it a strong digestive aid that helps with stomach aches. As a fresh herb, Feverfew can be taken to relieve indigestion and prevent migraine headaches by ingesting two or three leaves after each meal. Otherwise, the best alternative for taking feverfew is in a tincture form to quantify the dosage accurately.

Valerian

Valerian is a powerful sedative and antidepressant herb. Sometimes recognized for its infamous dirty-sock smell, the odor tends to evaporate after brewing the herb and its taste is quite favorable. Valerian has traditionally been used to treat insomnia, and is an effective alternative to the use of benzodiazepine drugs. Because Valerian is broken down in the liver, it may interact with prescription drugs that treat fungus, depression and some forms of cancer. It should be taken in limited quantities and ideally on its own, since it may cause daytime drowsiness if combined with other known sedative herbs such as hops. To make a bedtime tea, brew the dry herb in filtered water for five minutes and sip slowly for approximately 30 minutes before intended bedtime.