Herbs that Help Us* EDITED




Herbs that Help Us


Herbs are quite amazing plants. Gardeners who follow Rudolf Steiner's Biodynamic Method called them 'dynamic plants' because they seem to contain a power within themselves which other plants don't possess the power to effect changes on their immediate environment in many subtle ways. Man can use this power in his own way either relatively crudely as when herbs are used in cooking as flavourings, or in more subtle ways, as when herbs are used in healing the physical body, to improve the growth of other plants, or even to subtly change a person's temperament and psychological disposition. In this article, I shall deal with two ways in which the power of herbs can be used to help mankind; first in healing the physical body, and secondly as companion plants to improve the growth of other plants.




Modern medicine, as practiced by doctors, relies very heavily on treating the symptoms of an illness with chemical drugs, most of which have been developed only recently by the pharmaceutical industry. However, for hundreds of years, man has been using natural remedies made from plants growing wild in fields and woods, to relieve and eventually cure minor and sometimes major illnesses. Today there is an increasing awareness that many of the modern drugs have side effects which may harm the body more than the symptoms that they are designed to cure. In contrast, the action on the body of herbal remedies, used properly, seems often more effective and certainly much safer than the modern drugs. A simple herbal first-aid kit can be made up to treat all the minor accidents and illnesses for which the standard domestic first-aid kit would normally be used. 



Comfrey: Stimulates cell proliferation. A good general healing agent for external and internal wounds. Especially good for broken bones (hence its old name, 'knitbone'). Good emollient for burns. As comfrey is not an antiseptic it is usually applied with an antiseptic ointment such as calendula or golden seal. An excellent remedy for tropical ulcers is a mixture of comfrey and golden seal ointments applied on a dressing and kept in contact with the affected area; change dressing every day.

Calendula: Very powerful antiseptic: draws together the edges of skin wounds, aiding in the healing process. Used for rashes, abrasions, minor cuts, chapped skin.

Arnica: For bruises, sprains, swollen ligaments, concussion and other trauma where the skin is not broken.

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Paw Paw: For eczema, psoriasis and other skin diseases which cause dryness including some types of dermatitis, cracked skin, windburn, and hard pads in dogs.

Thuja: For rheumatism, arthritis. lumbago. warts. (Keep ointment on several days to remove warts). Urtica For bites, stings, scratches, irritation. Good treatment for leech bites is urtica and golden seal, which prevents bleeding.

Stellaria media: A very powerful drawing agent used for treating deep-seated infections. Will draw cut boils, carbuncles, splinters, etc, even from deep with in the skin.

Golden seal: A good antiseptic with mild drawing action used for acne, pustules, infected cuts. Also acts to prevent bleeding.

Phytolacca: For any glandular swelling such as mumps or glandular fever; also sciatica, rheumatic pains, warts and sinus congestion (applied to face at points on each side of nose just above mouth.)



Peppermint: Used as an inhalant (few drops in hot water) for bronchitis, sinusitis, heavy cold, chest cold. Also one or two drops in a teaspoonful of sugar will calm an upset stomach.

Rosemary: A muscle relaxant; good remedy for headache; massage into temples and around neck.

Aniseed: Good for sinus congestion as it acts to vapourise mucus. Can be used to massage chest (after using phytolacca ointment) or by placing three drops on the back of the tongue, and breathing in through the nose.

Wintergreen: A good warming oil used where discomfort has been caused by cold, wind, rain, etc. Also good for menstrual pains if massaged into abdomen.

Lavender: A muscle relaxant for stiff or rheumatic joints. Also acts as a sedative, relieving psychological tension and neurasthenic conditions when massaged into the temples.

Eucalyptus: A general disinfectant and antiseptic; also styptic (prevents bleeding).

Thyme: One of the most powerful antiseptics known. (Be careful it burns the skin.) Also pre- vents bleeding and good in relieving tension if massaged into temples.




Tannin: i.e. ordinary tea) A stimulant and also highly acidic (can damage the stomach lining). Therefore too much ordinary tea is not good. Relieves the pain of sunburn. Acidity of ordinary tea is reduced by adding milk.

Alfalfa: For stomach acidity, faulty digestion: a highly alkaline tea, tonic, general calming agent, aids digestion, promotes menstrual flow.

Peppermint: For digestive trouble, headaches.

Comfrey: Promotes healing of internal and external wounds, (therefore drink comfrey tea after an operation); soothes irritations of mucous membranes: provides a source of Vitamin B12 for vegetarians.

Dandelion Coffee: For kidney troubles, acts as a tonic and mild laxative, relieves stomach disorders.

Valerian: Excellent sedative, good to drink just before going to bed since it promotes sleep, also relieves pain, especially headaches.




This remedy can easily be made in the kitchen it is specific for colds and flu, is good for other infections and also acts as a general tonic. To half a pint of water add one whole lemon cut into small pieces (skin and all), two cloves of garlic chopped in to large pieces, one teaspoonful of yarrow herb (if available), and half a teaspoonful of ground ginger (or a couple of pieces of fresh ginger root). Simmer for ten minutes. Strain, add honey to taste, and drink. 



People who have been growing plants for a long time, and who have come to have a feeling for them, recognise that the growth of some plants is strongly affected by other plants growing near them. Herbs, in particular, seem to have a great effect on other plants growing near them, either directly, or by their action in controlling pests. The following list contains information about the effects of some herbs on the growth of other plants.





BASIL (Ocimumba,cilicum)


Tomatoes—improves growth and flavour. Repels flies and mosquitoes.


BORAGE (Borago officinalis)


Tomatoes, squash and strawberries—improves growth and flavour and deters tomato worm. Attracts bees when flowering.


CARAWAY (Carton carvi)


Plant here and there, especially with peas loosens subsoil.

CATNIP (Nepeta cataria)



Plant in borders—deters flea beetle. Attracts bees, deters rodents. Cats go crazy for the

roots of the plant.

CAMOMILE (Matricaria chamomilla)


Cabbages and onions— improves growth and flavour. Increases lime availability in soil. Chamomile flower tea is a fungicide used for controlling damping off in seedlings.

CHERVIL (Anthriscus cereffilium)


Radishes—improves growth and flavour. Likes partial shade in summer.

CHIVES (A Ilium schoenoprasum )


Carrots—improves growth and flavour. Lettuce and peas deter aphis.

Apple trees—prevents apple scab.

Chives— tea prevents downy and powdery mildew on gooseberries and cucumbers.


COMFREY (Symphytum officinale)


Plant sparingly throughout garden (grows to large clumps quickly) —roots penetrate sub soil and bring minerals to surface from as deep as 200 feet below ground.


DEAD NETTLE (Lamium album)


Potatoes—improves growth and flavour, deters potato bugs.

DILL (Anethum graveolens)


Cabbages—improves growth and flavour. Suppresses growth of carrots if allowed to flower in their vicinity.

FENNEL (Foeniculum vulgare)


Suppresses the growth of many vegetables. Itself is inhibited by coriander and wormwood.

FLAX (Linum usitatissimum)


Carrots and potatoes improves soil condition and deters Colarado beetle. Aids decomposition of organic matter in soil.

GARLIC (Album sativum)


Roses and raspberries—deters Japanese beetle. Inhibits the growth of peas and beans.

Garlic tea used to control late blight on potatoes and tomatoes. Garlic spray deters most insects.

HENBIT (Lamium amplexicaule)


General insect repellent.

HORSE-RADISH (Cochlearia armoracia)


Potatoes (corners of plot)—keeps plants healthy and resistant to disease. Horse-radish tea used against brown rot on apple trees.

LAMB'S QUARTER (Chenopodium album)


Edible weed—can be allowed to grow in moderate amounts, especially with corn. Indicates a well-fermented humus, a good soil.

LAVENDER (Lavendula officinalis )


General insect repellent.

LEMON BALM (Melissa officinalis)


Sprinkle throughout garden improves growth and flavor of all vegetables. Very attractive to bees, used to keep them in a new hive.

LOVAGE (Levisticum officinale)


Sprinkle throughout garden—improves growth and flavor of all vegetables. General insect repellent.



Plant throughout garden— deters many pests including Mexican bean beetles, nematodes, cucumber beetles. Use especially with tomatoes. French variety (Tagetes patula) is best.


Sprinkle throughout garden—improves growth and flavor of all vegetables. General insect repellent.


Tomatoes—improves growth and flavour. Cabbages repels cabbage butterfly. Repels ants and therefore aphis since ants place aphis on vegetation (spearmint especially).


Corn—good ground cover, but keep cows and goats away. Melon—stimulates germination of seedlings.


Radishes—improves growth and flavour. Broccoli—deters aphis. Cucurbits—repels squash bugs, striped pumpkin beetle. Beans—repels Mexican bean beetle. Apple trees—deters woolly aphis.

OREGANO (Origanurn vulgare)


Close relative of Marjoram.

PARSLEY (Petroselinum crispum)


Roses— deters rose beetles. Tomatoes—improves growth and flavour. Attracts honeybees when flowering.



Allow to grow sparingly throughout garden and keep well thinned, one of the best plants for drawing nutrients out of the subsoil. Especially beneficial for potatoes, onions

and corn.

PURSLANE (Atriplex portulacoides)


Corn good ground cover. Edible weed.


ROSEMARY (Rosemarinus officinalis)


Cabbages—deters cabbage butterfly. Beans deters bean beetle. Carrot repels carrot fly. Generally beneficial throughout the garden. Rosmary and sage have a stimulating effect on each other.

RUE (Ruta graveolens)


Roses and raspberries deters Japanese beetle. Repels house-flies and stable flies, also small animals if they brush against the rue plant. Dislikes sweet basil intensely.

SAGE (Saliva officinalis)


Cabbage deters cabbage butterfly and makes plants more tender and digestible. Generally beneficial to all vegetables except cucumbers where it retards growth. Sage tea can be used on mature plants. Sage and rosemary have a stimulating effect on each other.

SAINFOIN (Onobrychis viciaefolia)


Aids most vegetables if planted

as a border.

SOUTHERN WOOD(Artemisia abrotanum)


Cabbage—repels cabbage butterfly. General moth repellent useful near fruit trees.

SOWTHISTLE (Sonchus oleraceus)


Tomatoes, onions and corn are helped by this weed in moderate amounts.



Other herbs increases pungency and aroma. Helps neighbouring plants to grow more re sista n t to spoiling. Also stimulates humus formation. The European variety (Urtica dioica) is best.

SUMMER SAVOURY (Satureia hortensis)


Onions and beans—improves growth and flavour and deters bean beetle.

TANS Y (Tanacetum vulgare)


Roses and raspberries deters Japanese beetle. Cucurbits— deters cucumber beetles and squash bugs. Cabbages— repels cabbage worms and cut- worms. Fruit trees deterrent for flying insects. Concentrates potassium.

THYME (Thymu s vulgaris)


Cabbage deters cabbage root fly. Improves growth and flavour of most vegetables. General insect repellent.

VALERIAN ( Valeriana officinalis)


In a border improves growth and flavour of most vegetables. Increases phosphorus activity. Attracts earthworm.

WORMWOOD (Artemisia absinthium)


General moth repellent. Also repels flea beetles, and small animals. BUT plant as a border as it retards growth of most plants. Wormwood tea re p e ls slugs and will deter

aphis on fruit trees.

YARROW (Achillea millefolium)


Other herbs—increases aromatic quality. As a border, helps most vegetables. (Also used to activate compost).


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