9 Indoor Herbs That Fight Colds, Ease Headaches, And More

Keep these indoor plants around to treat minor aches and pains naturally.

January 13, 2017
sage tea in mug
Werner Rebel/ Shutterstock

Why burn a quarter-tank of gas running out to the drugstore for Pepto when you can pluck some relief from your windowsill herb garden?

Besides adding another dimension to your cooking, freshly harvested herbs can soothe dozens of common health problems, and it’s possible to grow a selection of home remedies in a couple of pots placed in a sunny spot. 

Look for seedlings of these plants and herbs at any garden store, or if you’re really ambitious, buy a packet of seeds and try sprouting your own.

(On just a quarter-acre of land, you can produce fresh, organic food for a family of four—year-round. Rodale's The Backyard Homestead shows you how; get your copy today.)

lavender in field
1/9 Subbotina Anna/ Shutterstock
Lavender

Grow:
This sun-loving plant needs good drainage. Use a small pot filled with gravel and a light soil.

Use:
It has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. (Plus, here are 7 cool things we never knew lavender could do.) Crush a handful of the heads and add to a bowl of boiling water to use as a steam bath for your face. You can also dab the oil from the flowers on blemishes, says pharmacist Margo Marrone, founder of The Organic Pharmacy in the United Kingdom. 

basil plant
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Basil

Grow:
This sweet, fragrant annual is ideal for growing in pots. Pull off the white flowers as soon as they appear to keep it from going to seed and your herbs from tasting bitter.

Use:
Rub crushed leaves on your temples to relieve headaches. Pour boiling water over basil leaves for a pain-relieving footbath.

Related: Basil Growing Guide

thyme bush
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Thyme

Grow:
Plant in dry, light soil. Needs sun.

Use:
A powerful antioxidant as well as an antiseptic. Drink a tea made from lemon thyme to treat colds before bed. Warning: Don’t use thyme when pregnant.

Related: Thyme Growing Guide

lemon balm in pot
4/9 Julia Tsokur/ Shutterstock
Lemon Balm

Grow:
Pot it, or it will colonize your garden.

Use:
Use for healing and preventing cold sores. Also, rub leaves directly onto skin as a natural insect repellent or to soothe bites.

Related: 20 Little Ways To Nurture Yourself This Winter

parsley plant
5/9 isak55/ Shutterstock
Parsley

Grow:
Thrives in a pot in the sun as long as the soil is kept moist. Feed with organic fertilizer.

Use:
Immune-system booster. Eat one tablespoon of chopped flatleaf or curly parsley daily. Chewing parsley neutralizes mouth odors.

Related: Parsley Growing Guide

mint plant
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Mint

Grow:
Use a sunken pot, because it grows vigorously.

Use:
Ideal for treating the collywobbles, which you might know as butterflies in the stomach. (Check out these 7 other surprising health benefits of mint.)Sip tea made with fresh peppermint leaves to soothe stomach cramps, nausea, and flatulence. For a natural decongestant, place a fistful of mint leaves in a shallow bowl and cover with boiling water. Lean over it, drape a towel over your head, and breathe the steam.

Related: Mint Growing Guide

bowl of rosemary
7/9 Oxana Denezhkina/ Shutterstock
Rosemary

Grow:
This hardy perennial loves basking in sunshine.

Use:
Tea made from a thumb-sized piece has been known to lift spirits in people suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and hangovers. Infuse warm red wine with rosemary, cinnamon, and cloves to soothe winter colds.

Related: Rosemary Growing Guide

sage bush
8/9 NikoEndres/ Shutterstock
Sage

Grow:
Needs full sun and a dry sandy soil. Sage means “to be in good health.”

Use:
Gargle with a broth made from a quarter-cup of leaves (and cooled) to relieve sore throat.

Related: Sage Growing Guide

aloe plant
9/9 Nevada31
Aloe Vera

Grow:
Plant in pots placed in full sunshine. Water well.

Use:
Break open the thick leaves and apply the gel that seeps out to your skin to soothe sunburn. “It’s 96 percent water and 4 percent active ingredients, including amino acids and enzymes that nourish damaged skin,” says Marrone.

Related: 5 Surprising Benefits Of Aloe Vera For Your Skin

 

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