5 Great Medicinal Plants for the Canadian Gardener
A Medicinal plant offers the gardener or user a natural source of healing and improvement of ones overall health. There are thousands of Medicinal plants that can be grown but not all can survive the harsh climate of Canada or countries of similar climate. The 10 Medicinal plants i will introduce can not only survive in the harsh winter and shallow summer but strive in it.
Medicinal plants can be used to either alleviate or cure a certain disease as well as improve the well being through improved bodily functions. Not all have both properties but i will distinguish between which ones do and which ones do not.
Types of Medicinal Plants
Annuals and Biennials: Annuals will grow through the full life of the plant in one growing season. They will germinate, mature, bloom and eventually die by the end the end of the year. Annuals can be further divided into Hardy, half hardy and tender. Hardy annuals can tolerate very harsh weather such as low temperatures as well as snow. Can last until the fall or winter season. Half hardy can tolerate a small degree of frost and below 0 freezing temperature to an extent. Tender, as the name implies, has no tolerance to below freezing or even cold weather. Biennials have a life span of 2 years as compared to the singular year of the annuals.
Perennials: These types of plants typically start degrading when the temperature falls to a certain level. This natural occurrence is the plants way of persevering itself enough so that it can survive and regrow. You can have plants that start degrading completely as if it reversed its growing process or you can have plants that degrade or die back only slightly. A small percentage maintain their original look and look unchanged.
Tree and Shrub: Can be classified as woody perennials. Trees and shrubs usually live up to 3 years and beyond while having a permanent base unaffected by the temperature, meaning the leaves may or may not fall while the trunk is unchanged.
Infusion process: The leaves and flowers are put in hot water, not boiling, for 2-3 minutes then strained into a cup or glass. Another method you can employ is letting the flowers and leaves soak in water overnight in a refrigerator.
Syrup: Start by placing the parts of the plant(Leaves, roots, flower) into a pot filled with water. Warm the pot until it is fairly warm but not boiling. Maintain this heat for several hours. After the several hours are up, let the pot cool down then strain the plant parts out leaving the liquid behind. Depending on your preference, you then add an sweetener such as sugar or honey. You will need to warm and maintain a heat level below boiling until the outcome is thick and goopy (scientific term). Add sweetener as you see fit, as long as the end result is of a syrup consistency.
Decoctions: If you want to use very inch of the medicinal plant like the roots, seeds, nuts or bark, then you will need to boil the parts in a pot for about 25-30 minutes. The heat at boiling will extract everything from those tough exteriors. Strain into a cup or glass and you are done.
Tinctures: This preparation method can bring out the healing and wellness benefits better than any other method but requires the most time to do it. About 3-4 ounces of crushed Medicinal plant combined with equal parts alcohol and water ( 1 cup each). Leave in a dark space, preferably away from any light for a couple of weeks. You can use it in a week if you don't have that kind of patience but the longer the better.
The 5 Medicinal Plants
California Poppy Height: 20-40cm Color: Orange, Yellow, Red, Pink
- The California poppy is used to treat a variety of conditions. Older people suffering from the daily aches and pains caused by Arthritis. Especially during sleep, it can be used as a sleep aid and pain suppressor during the night, which can improve healing. People suffering from toothaches and haven't had time to visit the dentist, you know who you are. Even back pains can be alleviated to a certain degree. This flower requires a lot of sunlight and can tolerate droughts to an extent.
False Indigo Height: 80-100 cm Color: Dark purple or Yellow
- False Indigo is used to treat Bacterial Infections as well as help fight the common cold. Beyond that it is a great immune system booster that will keep your body healthier and for longer as long as you take it periodically. This plant requires a lot of sun and can survive in sandy and dry soil conditions.
Lavender Height: 60- 100 cm Color: Purple
- Typically Lavender is used in the Cosmetic industry because of its alluring aroma as well as the essential oils that are extracted for their various benefits. health wise, you can used Lavender to treat insomnia, anxiety, and depression, and mild headaches. The Antibacterial property can be used to teat cuts, burns and the occasional skin problem or outbreak. A lot of sun is needed for proper growth and the sol should be well drained.
Ginger Height: 30- 150 cm Color: Yellow-Green
- Ginger was first used by the Chinese population to aid in various medical disease and disorders. Over the years, the benefits of ginger have made its way around the world helping people of every culture and race. Ginger is commonly used when someone has a cold and flu, for those familiar with ginger ale and drinking it during those times. It can also be used to settle an upset stomach and indigestion. Ginger contains an enzyme that has been medically recognized to counteract inflammation or at least reduce its effects. A consistent amount of sunshine is recommended for optimal growth with a well drained soil.
Milk Thistle Height: 30-60cm Color: Purple with White Veins
- Since the middle ages when Milk Thistle was used to combat liver disease with great success, it has been researched extensively. Researchers have determined that this plant has anti aging benefits and brings about a more youthful appearance. The antioxidant property helps keep the immune system strong while fighting free radicals which can cause cancer. A lot of sunshine is required with a well drained soil.
As i mentioned before, there are thousands of Medicinal Plants to choose from and grow but these 5 i have mentioned can be grown in Canada without worry. Medicinal plants can add depth and character to a garden while giving you the added bonus of improving your health or curing an ailment that you would normally have to go to a medical professional for.