Herbs have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. An herbalist is someone who specializes in the medicinal use of herbs. When planting an herb garden, consider herbs that are known for their efficacy in clinical studies. Among those are garlic, bilberry, milk thistle and lemon balm, according to the Steven Taormina Natural Health and Longevity Resource Center. Some herbs may interact or interfere with prescription medications or have side effects. As with all medications, use precautions when taking herbal remedies.
Garlic (Allium sativum) is also known as clove garlic. It is a perennial herb that grows to about 2 feet tall. It produces a white, clove-shaped, pungent bulb used for cooking as well as medicinally. Garlic is known for its antibiotic properties to treat common infections such as colds and ear infections. Other uses include lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Garlic is thought to prevent cancer, since it raises the body's level of a liver enzyme that detoxifies the body, according to Amanda McQuade-Crawford, herbalist of the Ojai Center of Phytotherapy.
Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) is a small herbal shrub that grows to approximately 1 foot tall. It bears sweet bilberries that are blue or black in color and have strong antioxidant properties that aid the eyes, heart, brain and circulatory system. Bilberries contain flavonoids that increase blood flow and improve capillary elasticity. They are used to improve vision, strengthen coronary arteries and aid in muscle recovery. Bilberries also possess antidiarrheal, antimicrobial and antihistamine properties.
Milk thistle (Carduus marianus also known as Silybum marianum) is a self-seeding tall herb that contains a milky liquid. Silymarin extract, derived from the seeds of milk thistle, safeguards the liver from damage and has been used by herbalists to treat hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver, reports Herbs2000.com. Steven Taormina at Natural Health and Longevity Resource Center states that more than 120 scientific studies have shown milk thistle to be beneficial to liver function.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a lemon-scented herb that grows to 3 feet in height and flowers from June through September. Lemon balm is also known as bee balm because it was traditionally used by beekeepers to attract bees back to their hives. Lemon balm possesses soothing qualities that aid in treating migraine headaches, vertigo, stress, depression and palpitations. It has many other uses, including treatment for allergies, cold sores, viral infections, colds and flu.