Backyard Plant Remedies

By Lisa Maliga
© 2004-2013

Herbal remedies don’t have to come from a health food store in an amber colored glass bottle. You’ll find many of them growing in your backyard. Whether these plants are classified as a weed, such as the underestimated dandelion, or are cultivated, the following eight are all more than just food – they are nature’s cures for various ailments. For those of you who live in the city or have no garden, you can buy any of these helpful home remedies in your supermarket or a farmer’s market or health food store where natural and organic foods are sold. Also, if you’re looking to gather any of these items in the wild, please stay away from main roads. Exhaust fumes will have permeated the plant, thereby affecting the quality.

Apple: This is the first word we learn in association with the alphabet, the fruit that symbolizes America when baked into a variety of delicious desserts. We know the saying about that apple a day keeping the doctor away. There are red apples, golden apples, yellow and green; and other sizes and types of apples. Apples are made into cider [alcoholic and non-alcoholic], baked, stewed, beaten to a pulp, fried, preserved, and cut up for so many varieties of recipes that entire books are devoted to them. The minerals and vitamins contained within an apple are always near the peel—the area that is exposed to the sun. While some people can’t tolerate eating the peel as it contains too much fiber for their system, they often are able to combine the apple with bread and have no difficulty with digestion. The apple contains large quantities of Vitamin A, B and C – perhaps that’s why it’s the most popular fruit around! Can Help: Laxative, reduction of fever, intestinal disorders, insomnia, sore throat [baked apple saturated with honey], obesity, gout, rheumatism, gangrenous wounds, and stress relief.

Asparagus: Of course this vegetable is good for you – your mother said so! First of all, it’s green, and green vegetables contain chlorophyll, which is a blood purifier. Not only does this plant contain Vitamin B, but also calcium, rutin, asparagin, saponin and tannin – a veritable bouquet of compounds that reduce intestinal inflammation and act to promote a healthier liver. Can Help: Reduce iron deficiency, this low carbohydrate vegetable is suitable for those with diabetes, eliminate water retention, strengthen the kidneys and bladder, and alleviate pain caused by rheumatism, arthritis or gout.

Cabbage: Germans make their staple dish of sauerkraut from this vegetable. Cabbage contains sulphur, a wonderful ingredient that strengthens the immune system, lowers high blood pressure and fights infections. Europeans have long since discovered that the outer leaves contain high amounts of iron, calcium and vitamin-rich properties that allow them to use the cabbage to cure a large assortment of common complaints. Can Help: Ulcers, skin diseases, wounds, hemorrhoids, intoxication preventative, iron deficiency, minor burns, intestinal disorders, nosebleed, and wounds.

Dandelion: Most Americans unfortunately view the dandelion as a weed. People who live along the slopes of the northern Alps have quite a different view of this tall-stemmed yellow flower with the emerald green serrated leaves that contain abundant nutrients. We have been taught that carrots contain a large amount of Vitamin A. This is true. However, dandelion greens [leaves] contain more than 5,000 I.U.s per cup! Andre Voisin, a member of the Academy of Agriculture [France] wrote, “In spring the flowers and stems of dandelion are enormously rich in estrogen.” When allowed to decompose naturally, it releases properties of iron, copper and other nutrients into the soil. Can Help: The dandelion root is a tonic, diuretic, and assimilates the functioning of the liver. The leaves eliminate iron deficiencies, and are a natural stimulant with no caffeine-like side effects.

Garlic: Not only is this a zesty seasoning, but garlic has been used for medicinal purposes all around the world for the past two centuries. If you’re looking for a natural antibiotic, then garlic’s your herb. Whether in fresh, cooked or capsulated form, garlic contains allicin — a killer of bacteria. It is said that eating raw garlic helps you have a strong, clear voice. Can Help: Lower high blood pressure, fungus, insect repellent, stress relief, abscesses, dysentery, coughs and congestion, digestion, earache, colds, hepatitis, insect and animal bites, kidney infection, and wounds.

Onion: This is another familiar condiment that’s known the world over. But some of its uses aren’t known – and should be. If you are an athlete, aspire to be one, or know someone who is, then make sure you have some onions. Whether you’ve bruised or sprained any part of your body, the application of a slice of onion will decrease swelling and eliminate bruising. “Onion breaks up blood that gathers under the skin when a bruise is forming, and how it also disperses the lymph fluids that gather and contribute to swelling.” Lalitha Thomas, from her book 10 Essential Herbs. Can Help: Bruises, congestion, sprains, insect bites, heartburn, hemorrhoids, arthritis, inflammation, high blood pressure, kidneys, pneumonia, swelling, nervous disorders, urinary tract, and worms.

Spinach: Popeye was a fan of this high protein vegetable. Kids seem to dislike this intensely green colored veggie while parents repeatedly beg them to eat it, as it’s good for them. And the parents are right. Minerals, including calcium, iodine, iron and potassium are abundant, along with Vitamin A, C, K, [which regulates helps blood clot properly and encourages bone growth] and folic acid. Raw spinach [whether liquefied or in the form of a salad] is recommended for people with vitamin deficiencies. Can Help: Anemia, stress relief, increases longevity.

tomatoes photo by lisa maligaTomato: Fresh tomatoes improve salads, are used in many Italian dishes, and can be stewed, fried, pureed, baked, etc. This native Central and South American plant was referred to as love apples or Peruvian apples. In the 16th century they were imported to Spain and grown as a novelty – as they were thought to be poisonous! Of course enough people learned otherwise. Washing in tomato juice is a remedy for any person or animal having the misfortune to be sprayed by a skunk. Can Help: Internal cleansing, sores, rheumatism, gout – elimination of uric acid. 

Note: The content of this article is for informational purposes. Consult with your health care provider for any ailment you may have.

WIN A VARIETY OF BOOKS! Sign up for The Discerning Readers’ Newsletter at: