• Jodi McKee

10 Plants to Improve Your Health & Well-being

Updated: Jun 18, 2020

Plants are fantastic healers. I have been amazed again and again by the power of medicine made in the kitchen with my two hands. Tinctures, teas, infused oils, salves poultices and flower essences are medicinal preparations that are powerful healers and can easily be prepared at home with no special tools or gadgets. If you can make dinner you can make medicine.

Learning to work with plants to treat everyday ailments and improve your health and wellbeing is easier than you think. It begins with the plants around you and trust in nature's innate wisdom and the healing capacity of your body. They are intertwined in every way. Let your curiosity guide you.

Here is a list of the 10 easiest plants to work with to get your growing season off to a fabulous start. Some are considered weeds and others are easy to grow in your home garden.

1. Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is a lovely annual often referred to as pot marigold (not related to the marigold we all know). It grows in full-sun to light-shade and well-drained soil, where it self-sows and produces year-after-year once established. The sticky resins you feel on your hands when you harvest the blossoms are an important part of the medicine. Calendula is essential to any healing garden.

Primary uses:

  • One of the best all-around, skin-healing plants

  • Lymphatic (increases lymph circulation)

  • Boosts the immune system

  • Great for baby, body, and facial care products

Preparations: Tea, Tincture, Infused Oil, Salve, Poultice

2. Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) is another powerful plant with modern research to back up its centuries of folk use. Elder is considered a safe and effective remedy for children, too. It is an easy-to-grow, hearty shrub that prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soil. Lovely fragrant June blossoms give way to prized dark, purple berries in August. Positive ID is a must


Primary uses:

  • Immune booster specifically to support the body in fighting off the cold and flu viruses

  • Has an overall tonic effect on the body and is particularly helpful for both the respiratory and digestive tracts

Preparations: Tea, Tincture, Infused Oil, Salve, Syrup

3. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is a delightful perennial plant for zones 4 -10 that is easy-to-grow and a pleasure to work with. It is generally safe for children, as well as adults. Regular harvesting

keeps the plant from taking over the garden. It prefers full-sun to light-shade with average to dry fertile soil.

Primary uses:

  • Calms nervous tension and uplifts the spirit

  • Fever reducer

  • Mild sedative effect that promotes sleep + relaxation

  • Antiviral

  • Topical for cold sores

  • The fresh leaves make the best hot or cold tea.

Preparations: Tea, tincture, infused oil, salve

4. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) also referred to as ‘wound wart’ and ‘carpenters weed’ is famous for its amazing ability to staunch bleeding. It grows in Zones 2-9 and is happy in most soils while preferring full to part sun. Yarrow is a wildflower that has made its way into garden stores with a variety of colors. The white yarrow is traditionally used medicinally and is often hard to find in local nurseries. A must for your herbal first aid kit!

Primary uses:

  • Blood Stauncher

  • Bruise Remedy

  • Fever Reducer

  • Hemorrhoids

  • Antiviral

Preparations: Tea, Tincture, Infused Oil, Salve, Poultice

5. Chamomile (Chamomilla matricaria) is a versatile easy-to-grow annual, which is well-known to many as chamomile tea. It is not fussy about soil conditions but prefers full sun but tolerates some shade. I have had luck starting the tiny seeds indoors, but they can also be placed directly in the garden. This plant will also self-sow if left to seed in the fall.

Primary uses:

  • Stomach aid both for upset and nervous stomachs

  • Nourishing and relaxing to the nervous system

  • Promotes sleep