Everyone knows that using fresh herbs in the kitchen can transform a meal into a feast. But we can also use them in the home to treat minor ailments. Whether you have a garden, a window box, or simply room for a pot on a west- or east-facing windowsill, you can grow your own living first-aid kit. Be aware that some plants can be poisonous if misidentified or misused, so if you are unsure, if you are pregnant or for more serious conditions, always seek medical advice.
Hangovers and heavy hearts
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) makes a restorative herbal infusion that's ideal for waking up the grey cells, settling the stomach and lifting the spirits – perfect for sufferers of seasonal affective disorder, or a hangover.
How to grow Wherever you plant your herbs, make sure they are easily accessible. Rosemary will be happy in containers filled with a soil-based potting compost or in the garden in well-drained soil in a sunny position.
Recipe Cut a 3-4cm sprig, place in a mug, pour over boiled (not boiling) water, cover to prevent steam evaporating and steep for five minutes before drinking. Take one cup a day for up to seven successive days, then have a few days' break.
Burns and bites
I used to have an aloe (Aloe vera) growing in a pot on my kitchen windowsill because I am renowned as a clumsy cook. But I have started using the burn jelly plant (Bulbine frutescens), which is also a succulent and produces many more leaves which are easier to use.
How to grow Plant in containers using a soil-based potting compost mixed with an equal amount of sharp horticultural grit or perlite.
Recipe To treat burns, simply cut off a bit of leaf and rub the glutinous gel straight on to the skin, reapplying if the burn becomes uncomfortable. The wound then heals without blistering. This gel can also be used to cool the itching caused by insect bites and allergies.