by Fritz Kolleman
(Fritz Kolleman teaches classes at Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake City on herbal gardening and growing herbs for health and wellness)
As health insurance premiums and unemployment increase, people need sustainable ways to improve and maintain their health.
Growing medicinal herbs in on your property can improve your life in many ways. Beside the health benefits and culinary uses of the herbs themselves, growing plants is a great way to re-engage your surroundings. Using herbs to treat common minor ailments can help you become more responsible for and aware of your own well-being. In addition, spending time outdoors gardening provides necessary exposure to sunlight, low impact exercise and an opportunity to become familiar with plants. Generally, herbs are an easy group of plants to cultivate and herb gardens are often recommended for beginners.
Many plants with beneficial properties are common weeds, likely growing just outside your front door, waiting to be recognized and used. Before you self-medicate or attempt to treat any condition using plants that you are wild harvesting or gathering from your own yard or garden you must be certain of their identities.
Field guides and books on herbs are essential for the beginner. Become familiar with plants that you plan on using. Spend time smelling, touching and carefully observing them. The intricacies of even the most common weeds can be captivating, especially up close. The herbs mentioned are not meant to be substitutes for medical care. If you are ill, see a doctor. §