Whats in our herb garden

Laura Livingstone

26 Sep 2017

We have selected a variety of different herbs that reflect some of our native flora that would have been used to treat a variety of ailments during the medieval period. We have also included a selection of plants that were introduced into cottage gardens and infirmary gardens which in later centuries became physic gardens. 

Roman Camomile: Camomile today is most commonly used to calm anxieties and to help relax people into a soothing sleep via herbal teas. In the medieval period it was used as an ingredient in sedative recipes.

Ladies Mantle: Used by herbalists in the Highlands to treat sores and wounds. It was used as an antiseptic to stop bleeding on battlefields.

Tansy: Tansy tea was used in the Highlands as a treatment for worms. It was also used as an insect repellent. Tansy has been used in cooking (not recommended!).

Oxeye daisy: Anti-spasmodic and diuretic and has been used to treat coughs and asthma.

Elecampane: Used as a wound dressing during surgery due to its antibacterial properties.

Borage:Good for strengthening the heart when mixed with wine, and also useful for treating bronchitis.

Comfrey: An extract of the root was used as a topical application that would harden, and help set the bone into position to aid healing, gaining the nickname “knit bone” in some places.

Heartsease: Used to treat coughs and fevers.

Lavage: Often added to flavour beer and stews.

Marsh Mallow: This plant was grown in southern Europe during the medieval period and may have been imported to monastery infirmaries to treat throat infections.

Lemon Balm: Provided a salve on surgical dressings.

Rosemary: A good cooking herb that was also associated with remembrance.

Yarrow: Also known as woundwort and used to staunch bleeding.

Bugle: Used to treat wounds, bruises, and mouth ulcers.

Betony: Cure-all herb that was more specifically used to treat rheumatism and clean wounds.

Hyssop: Used in an infusion to aid digestion.

Feverfew: Used to reduce fevers and to treat coughs. It has insecticide properties.

Chervil: Used as a diuretic, a poultice for rheumatism, and as an infusion taken for circulation.

Chives: Used medicinally to aid digestion.

Sage: Used to treat fevers and coughs.

Mint: Used to add flavour to food and as an aid to digestive complaints.

Kidney Vetch: Mixed into a balm for treating cuts and bruises.

Parsley: An example of a plant that we think of as being native to this country but it was likely introduced from Europe in the sixteenth century. After its introduction it was widely used for culinary purposes but it was also mixed into a variety of medicines.

Willow: Willow was (and is) a very useful tree that can be copied and used to build a variety of different structures. We have used willow to build our wattle woven fence. Willow contains salactin, which is chemically related to aspirin. It has been used historically to treat pain, there have been small scale studies of its effectiveness in treating people with hip and knee osteoarthritis.

Share this: