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20 Best Medicinal Plants [For A Survival Garden]

In this article, we’re going to tell you which are the best medicinal plants to include in your survival garden so you can grow your own medicines and take control of your health.

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Having a survival garden is one of the most important preps you are going to make. Having control over your food supply and knowing that you can feed your family, come what may, will give you a priceless peace of mind in these uncertain times.

But a good survival garden will not just give you peace of mind over your food supply. It will also give you a sense of security knowing that you have the best medicinal plants at your disposal.

Taking care of our health is more important than ever before. As it is, the high costs of healthcare are enough to discourage trips to the doctor for minor complaints. It's really common to just go to the pharmacy and pick up some over-the-counter remedies to handle common health problems.

But what if SHTF and all of the sudden the pharmacies are empty? It’s a reality that can easily happen. Just take a look at the situation in Venezuela.

Interestingly, many of those common remedies found at the pharmacy (and an incredible percentage of all pharmaceuticals) have active ingredients that are derived from plants. If you find the plant that has the right compounds, you have the right medicine to alleviate what ails you.

In this article, we’re going to tell you which are the best medicinal plants to include in your survival garden so you can grow your own medicines and take control of your health.

Table Of Contents show

What are Medicinal Plants?

What, exactly, makes a plant medicinal? 

Basically, it all boils down to substances known as phytochemicals. These compounds go by many names; flavonoids, tannins, alkaloids, and terpenes primarily. These phytochemicals are what give any given plant its medicinal qualities. They are usually toxic to different bacteria, fungi, and yeasts.

These compounds, completely isolated from the plants they come from, are what make up the active ingredients in many modern pharmaceuticals. Over 120 drugs are made from plants including aspirin, digoxin, and morphine.

These phytochemicals are the real deal and have very real effects on the body. There is a fine line between a plant being medicinal and a plant being toxic. 

A Warning About Medicinal Plants

All of the plants that we list below are generally considered to be very safe for the layperson to use. 

All the same, before you start making your own plant medicines, you should take the time to research each plant and how to prepare it for medicinal use.

You should also look for contraindications. Some plants might not be appropriate for pregnant or nursing women, young children, or people with certain serious conditions. 

At the end of this article, we recommend some great books for you to add to your survival garden library. Consider investing in these resources to help you better understand, in-depth, the world of plant medicines and how to use them.

How to Include Medicinal Herbs in a Survival Garden

Growing the best medicinal herbs in your survival garden is easy. There's a chance that you may already be growing medicinal plants and you don't even know it. Garlic, onions, and even lettuce have their medicinal uses and are usually planted by most survival garden enthusiasts. 

Other plants can easily be incorporated into the survival garden landscape as edging or attractive perennial landscaping. You can also incorporate many medicinal plants as 'companion plants' scattered throughout your crops. 

Benefits of Medicinal Plants in the Survival Garden

Many herbs and medicinal plants are downright good for your garden. Even if you never actually use your medicinal plants as medicine, they are important to include in your survival garden.

Here are a few key reasons why medicinal plants are useful in your survival garden:

  1. They attract pollinators. Bees and other pollinating bugs will be attracted to the flowering medicinals.  They'll then make the rounds and pollinate the crops in your garden. A healthy pollinator population increases your survival crop harvests.
  2. They attract predatory insects. Certain species of wasps and flies are actually predators that will quickly become your allies in hunting down and controlling common garden pests.
  3. They repel pests. Aphids, cabbage moths, ticks, and even rodents can be repelled by strategically planted herbs and medicinal plants.

Growing Medicinal Herbs Indoors

As any urban survival gardener knows, common garden pests can easily become an issue for potted plants and indoor gardens as well. 

Fortunately, many of the best medicinal plants for your survival garden can easily be grown in containers and indoors.

You can easily enjoy all of the companion planting benefits mentioned above, even in an urban setting with limited space. 

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The 20 Best Medicinal Plants for the Survival Garden

Now that we’re going to talk about the specific herbs and medicinal plants, let’s explain how we have them organized on this list. 

We've divided up our recommendations into the following categories:

  • Medicines as Food: These are plants that we commonly produce to eat. We don't often consider them as "medicine" even though they are highly medicinal. This includes common culinary herbs and spices. 
  • Traditional Herbal Teas: These medicinal plants are well-known herbs that are commonly available. Many people drink them just because they are delicious. 
  • Medicinal Plants: These are less common plants. Many of them may be unknown to you, yet every single one is a medicinal herb garden must-have.  

Edible Medicinal Plants

Garlic

What is garlic good for

Wait a minute. Do we even need to ask what garlic is good for? Isn't it a necessary ingredient in all the food we make? Umm, yes.  But it is also one of the best medicinal plants out there. 

It has been proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, reduce the risk of cancer, is antimicrobial, and has incredible antioxidant properties.

Allicin is the main medicinal compound found in fresh crushed garlic, specifically the oil or juice that it oozes upon crushing. As it ages, the allicin will degrade and other compounds develop.    

Use garlic to lower blood pressure, fight parasites, reduce blood sugar, as a natural antibiotic and antiviral medicine, and to cure fungal infections.

Garlic in the garden

Garlic helps repel aphids, borers, spider mites, carrot root flies, and weevils. It also helps repel snakes and moles.

Onion

What is onion good for

This is another medicinal plant that is a common ingredient in nearly every homemade meal. It's a good thing we eat so many of them because they are really good for us.

Onions are very rich in organic sulfides, chromium, and a particularly powerful flavonoid called quercetin. These compounds make it one of the best medicines for colds, coughs, and other respiratory illnesses and congestion.

Onions are one of the best medicinal plants for calming an upset stomach, alleviating gas, and stimulating the appetite. Onions are also excellent for helping you to maintain healthy bones.  

Aside from that, they can be used to treat bleeding piles, cure parasites, and reduce inflammation.   

Onion in the garden

Onions attract beneficial insects while repelling pests. They can also be processed into a natural fungicidal solution to fight against powdery mildew and other leaf diseases.

Fennel

What is fennel good for

Anethole is one of many compounds in fennel that give it such a unique licorice-like flavor and contribute to its many medicinal properties. You may be familiar with the large fennel bulbs, but the leaves, stem, flowers, and seeds all have their uses as well. 

Use fennel for anything stomach related; to relieve nausea, ease digestion, help with food poisoning, and even relieve hangovers. It's also an expectorant and can be incorporated into herbal blends that help fight bronchitis, pneumonia, or dry coughs.

Another practical use for fennel is to stimulate breast milk production in lactating mothers. It is effective in helping to soothe infant colic. 

Fennel in the garden

Fennel is one of the best plants to grow in any survival garden, though it's not exactly apt for small spaces or container gardens. It can grow over six feet tall and can be quite bushy.

That being said, this plant attracts an insane amount of pollinators - particularly butterflies.

Turmeric

What is turmeric good for

This common cooking spice is used to treat all kinds of ills. Scientists have isolated over 100 compounds from this humble orange rhizome.

Tumerone and a whole family of curcuminoids are major players in this root's ability to treat COPD, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma. It is known to be anti-inflammatory, is used to treat urinary tract infections, and liver ailments. 

One of the most practical uses of turmeric is to cure wounds.  If you pack a wound with powdered turmeric, it will stop bleeding, seal, and heal incredibly quickly.

Turmeric in the garden

Turmeric is a tropical plant. Luckily, it can be planted in deep pots, indoors, in more temperate climates.

Here's a video that explains step by step how to do it.

If you live in a semi-tropical climate, you can plant it outside. Make sure to give it lots of space. Turmeric requires quite a bit of room.

Ginger

What is ginger good for

Ginger is in the same family as turmeric and has just as many medicinal uses. The main component, gingerol, is responsible for all the medicinal benefits that this plant has to offer.

Ginger is one of the best medicinal plants to treat the common cold, alleviate nausea, migraines, and even hypertension. It has very powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

This makes it an excellent remedy for arthritis, osteoarthritis, and rheumatism. Taking powdered ginger is an effective pain reliever for general body pain. Who hasn't experienced that after a hard day in the field? 

Ginger in the garden

Ginger is another semi-tropical/tropical plant that needs temperatures higher than 50F year-round.

If you live in a northern climate and that's just not possible - plant it in your indoor survival garden! Here's a handy how-to guide

Common Culinary Herbs

If it weren't great enough that common culinary foods such as garlic and ginger double as powerful medicines, many common herbs are medicinal herb garden must-haves. Be sure to plant plenty of the following plants in your survival garden.

Rosemary

What is rosemary good for

Aside from its use in the kitchen, you can count on rosemary to help promote mental clarity and improve memory, support the nervous and circulatory systems, and relieve muscle spasms. It can even prevent and treat blood clots. 

Other uses for this valuable plant include treating indigestion and promoting hair growth.

Rosemary is chock-full of complex phenolic compounds that make it such a medicinal powerhouse. It is a true antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant wonder.

Pregnant women should avoid rosemary because it can cause miscarriage.

Rosemary in the garden

Plant your cabbage, broccoli, other brassicas, beans, and carrots around it to mask their scent and discourage pests. You can also use the leaves to make a fungicidal spray and as a pest repellent. 

Rosemary can grow just fine in a pot if you live in a northern climate. Just make sure it gets at least 8 - 10 hours of light a day.

Sage

What is sage good for

Sage has been seriously studied by science because it is useful not only for treating minor illnesses, but is also very effective in treating serious health issues such as depression, dementia, diabetes, lupus, heart disease, and even cancer!

There are quite a few different species of sage, each of which has its own phytochemical compounds. In general, sage has traditionally been used to treat skin afflictions (it's antiseptic), bronchial issues including cough and asthma, and other digestive issues. 

Sage in the garden

Certain varieties of sage help discourage nematodes in the soil. Be sure to plant it next to your strawberries to enhance flavor and deter pests.

You can also plant it around your cabbages for the same reasons. It stimulates the growth of the plants around it, repels pests, and attracts pollinators.

Thyme

What is thyme good for

Thymol is one of the principal medicinal compounds found in thyme. It is remarkably antiseptic. Thyme oil can be put in the ears to combat ear infections. It can also be applied to treat fungal infections in the skin and nails. 

Aside from that, thyme is remarkably effective in curing parasites, intestinal problems in general, and urinary infections. Try thyme gargles to treat sore throat, tonsillitis, bronchitis, and bad breath.

Thyme in the garden

Thyme is a very effective plant for pest control. It not only repels pests common to the brassica family, but it also attracts highly beneficial ladybugs.

Planting thyme close to certain crops like potatoes and shallots can also improve their flavor.

Basil

What is basil good for

There are many different varieties of basil and depending on the one you have, you can count on certain medicinal compounds such as linalool, camphor, eugenol, and bergamotene among others. 

Count on basil to relieve gastrointestinal illnesses, respiratory problems, kidney problems, and even eye disorders. It is also really effective for simple stress relief and cognitive enhancement in addition to generally strengthening the immune system.

Basil in the garden

Basil, when planted next to other medicinal herbs like chamomile, can make those herbs more medicinally potent.

It has a similar effect on other crops, enhancing their flavor. Basil also repels pests and attracts pollinators.

Oregano

What is oregano good for

This common household herb is powerfully antibacterial. It counts on the powers of thymol and carvacrol. It is an excellent herb to help fight bronchitis, asthma, and allergy symptoms. It's also used to alleviate menstrual cramps and bloating. 

Topically, oregano is effective at combating ringworm and athlete's foot. It is also known to help treat gum disease and toothaches. It can even be used as an insect repellent!

Oregano in the garden

Oregano is one of the best herbs for the survival garden because it not only attracts beneficial insects like the predatory lacewing but also pollinators like the honeybee.

Traditional Herbal Teas

Chamomile

What is chamomile good for

We all know that chamomile tea is a relaxing drink, commonly served in the evening or when one has a cold. But this tiny little flower is a real powerhouse. It's one of the best medicinal plants to grow.

With around 120 distinct phytochemicals, this plant is effective for treating any number of ills.  Inflammation, muscle spasms, menstrual discomfort, insomnia, ulcers, other stomach and digestive issues, and even hemorrhoids can be treated with an infusion or the application of essential oil.

Chamomile in the garden

Aside from being effective at attracting countless beneficial insects, chamomile can also be used as a natural fungicide and insect repellent.

With a simple infusion, you can spray your seedlings to prevent damping off and repel aphids without harming any bees.

Mint

What is mint good for

Pilegone is the main compound found in mentha longifolia (wild mint) responsible for its many medicinal qualities. Mint is known to be good for gastrointestinal issues, is antimicrobial, and has a noted effect on the nervous system. It is widely used as a digestive aid and is excellent at curing headaches.

One traditional use worth noting is to use it to clean wounds and promote healing. Simply make a strong infusion and use that water to bathe a serious wound. It will simultaneously relieve pain, disinfect, and stimulate the healing process of the area.

Mint in the garden

Mint is one of those rare plants that is actually better off in a planter.  Why? Because it is famously invasive. Once you plant it, it is nearly impossible to get rid of and it spreads like wildfire.

Keeping it confined to strategically placed planters will allow you to enjoy all the benefits of companion planting, which are many! Mint is great for attracting beneficial insects and is known to repel all kinds of pests, most notably rodents.

Lemon Balm

What is lemon balm good for

With relatively high concentrations of citronellal, neral, and geranial, together with rosmarinic acid and other phytochemicals, this perennial herb in the mint family is worth having around. 

Known for being calming, lemon balm is great for stress and anxiety, sleep problems, and general restlessness. It's also considered effective for relieving symptoms of ADHD, PMS, and other menstrual issues, along with headaches.

Lemon balm in the garden

This useful plant, also known as Melissa, is famous for attracting honey bees to the garden. At the same time, they repel ants, flies, and other pests with their strong smell.

Remember, this plant can get huge, so give it lots of room in the garden to thrive.

Medicinal Herb Plants

Calendula

What is calendula good for

The flower is the part of the plant that is used for medicinal purposes. It is applied directly to the skin to treat pain, heal wounds, relieve hemorrhoids, and even treat varicose veins.

It is thought that the triterpenoids found in the flower are the main compounds responsible for its anti-inflammatory and regenerative properties.

Calendula can also be taken internally to start menstrual periods, treat sore throats and mouth, and reduce fevers. The oil is particularly effective for curing diaper rash in babies.

Note:  Pregnant women should avoid the internal use of calendula.

Calendula in the garden

Calendula promotes soil health by hosting beneficial fungi in its roots while simultaneously attracting beneficial insects. Calendula can easily be grown indoors or out in planters.

Aloe Vera

What is aloe vera good for

Aloe is by far the most essential medicinal plant for the survival garden. It has at least 75 compounds, including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that are responsible for its distinct medicinal properties.

The complete list of medicinal uses is too long to include everything here, but here are some highlights.

Use aloe to heal all kinds of wounds including burns, protect the skin from UV radiation, boost the immune system, reduce inflammation, work as a laxative, cure acne, reduce signs of aging, and inhibit bacteria, fungi, and viruses in the body.

Note: Pregnant and nursing mothers should avoid the internal use of aloe.

Aloe vera in the garden

Aloe can be blended into a simple solution of water and soap and then used as a foliar spray on plants to repel pests. It is easily grown indoors and makes a beautiful houseplant.

Motherwort

What is motherwort good for

Stachydrine is the main alkaloid of medicinal interest found in motherwort. This perennial herb is widely recognized for treating heart conditions including irregular heartbeat, blood pressure issues, physical symptoms of stress, and an overactive thyroid. 

As its name suggests, this plant is particularly useful for women and is known to relieve both menstrual and menopausal symptoms. For women who have recently given birth, it is very effective at preventing hemorrhaging.

This plant is also proven to have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. If applied directly to the skin, it can relieve itching from different skin conditions, as well as relieve the pain of shingles.

Note: Pregnant women should absolutely avoid this plant because it can potentially cause miscarriage.

Motherwort in the garden

Native to cold climates, this plant is incredibly hardy and even somewhat invasive. Grow it in containers if you can´t risk it getting out of control.

This plant, when allowed to flower, will attract tons of bees and other pollinators to your survival garden.

Echinacea

What is echinacea good for

This famous herbal remedy is best known for boosting the immune system to help fight off colds and the flu. It is also effective at fighting off urinary tract infections and yeast infections. 

This plant has also been shown to help raise low white blood cell counts and help with chronic fatigue syndrome.

When applied directly to the skin, it is useful for treating boils, psoriasis, skin wounds, and eczema.  As a mouthwash, you can help treat gum disease and toothaches with this powerful plant.

Echinacea in the garden

Echinacea is not only one of the best medicinal plants for the survival garden but is also one of the most visually impressive. They attract lots of pollinators such as butterflies and bees.

Toothache Plant

What is toothache plant good for

As its name suggests, this plant is useful for all kinds of mouth issues such as gum infections, sore throat, canker sores, and ulcers.  The main active compound, spilanthol, has a numbing effect, making it a great local anesthetic.

It also has an anti-inflammatory effect, making it effective for treating wounds in general. It is also great for curing ringworm infections.

Toothache plant in the garden

This plant is not only visually striking, but it is highly insecticidal. Using the seeds, you can make a high potency all-natural insecticide for your survival garden. This plant also prospers when planted in containers.

Comfrey

What is comfrey good for

This is one of the best medicinal plants that you can´t risk being without as a prepper. Find the space for a plant or two, and let it prosper. The roots of the comfrey plant are harvested when the plant is a year or two old, though the leaves can be harvested sooner.

The plant contains allantoin and rosmarinic acid which promote the growth of new skin cells while relieving pain and inflammation.

Use the leaves or roots to make a poultice, cream, or a salve which can then be used to cure aching joints, muscle sprains, bruises, burns, and even broken bones.

Note: Despite reported medicinal uses of comfrey being taken orally, we do not recommend doing so because the leaves contain certain alkaloids that can cause serious health problems.

Comfrey in the garden

Comfrey is a powerful ally in your survival garden. With thick powerful roots, it will dig deep and penetrate into compact soils, improving its overall quality.

It not only loosens the soil, but it also brings up important minerals and nutrients from deep down and accumulates them in their leaves, which in turn can be used as a fertilizing mulch.

Comfrey plants also provide important habitat for beneficial insects while their flowers attract pollinators.

Milfoil

What is milfoil good for

With over 54 volatile compounds, milfoil (also known as yarrow) is a medicinal plant famous for its power to quickly heal wounds.

It is effective to help staunch internal bleeding and circulatory disorders. Additionally, it is well known to help with liver problems, stomach ulcers, and stomach bleeding.

This plant can also be prepared in a poultice for external use to treat eczema, burns, and dental abscesses.

Milfoil in the garden

Milfoil does exceptionally well when planted with other herbs in your medicinal survival garden. It will enhance their aromatic qualities.

It also attracts beneficial insects like ladybugs and predatory wasps while simultaneously repelling certain flies, beetles, and ants.

Getting Seed for Medicinal Herbs

So, you´re ready to get your medicinal survival garden planted, right? Obviously, you´ll need some seeds. 

To get you started, we recommend the Mountain Valley Seed Medicinal and Herbal Tea Garden starter kit. They include many of the plants we have on our list, plus some other great medicinal plants that are worth having around.

Last update on 2021-02-25 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Some plants, like aloe vera, are readily available as houseplants. Purchase one or two, and eventually they will start producing little "babies" that you can replant. It never hurts to have as many aloe plants as your space can handle!

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Other plants, like comfrey, can be grown from seed but grow faster when planted from root cuttings.

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If you want to start out with dual-purpose culinary herbs, consider getting a handy starter kit. So many of these herbs will prosper indoors or on a windowsill. You can always transplant them outside later if need be.

Last update on 2021-02-24 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

For more general recommendations for tools and seeds for your survival garden, check out our dedicated guide on the best seeds for your survival garden.

The Best Books About Plant Medicines

This article about the best medicinal plants for your survival garden would not be complete without a proper warning: you must take the time to investigate how to properly prepare and use the plant medicines you will be growing in your garden.

These plants, while generally safe, could do more harm than good if improperly prepared or consumed.

As a prepper, you do not need to sign up for an herbal medicine course (though it wouldn´t be a bad idea) to be able to use and benefit from your medicinal plants. Just be sure to do your research. 

We recommend you keep the following books handy in your preppers library:

The Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine by Andrew Chevallier

This is an all-in-one informative book with great pictures that explains each herb in-depth, including its active ingredients and uses.

The book includes a section with remedies organized by ailment and brief yet complete how-to guides on how to make preparations such as salves, creams, and tinctures.

Last update on 2021-02-24 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Making Plant Medicine by Richo Cech

This book is smaller, and less complete, but includes write-ups on the most essential plants and herbs.

You will find detailed instructions, recipes, formulas, and dosing information for the most valuable medicinal plants

Last update on 2021-02-24 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Herb Book by John Lust

More oriented towards western herbalism, this book includes many traditional plants that are uncommon in modern herbalism.

You will find detailed information about many plants that can be harvested in the wild, how to harvest them, which parts of the plants to use, and detailed instructions for preparing the medicine.

Last update on 2021-02-24 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Be Prepared with the Best Medicinal Plants

The whole point in prepping is to be prepared for when SHTF, no matter what that looks like. With a survival garden, you know that you can feed your family. When your survival garden includes medicinal plants, you know that you can keep them healthy. 

This list of the best medicinal plants for your survival garden is, by no means, complete. There are SO many plants that can be used to heal. As you grow and expand your survival garden, you will naturally want to grow and expand the medicinal plants that are included in it.

So do your research and get planting!  Grow your peace of mind today!

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