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Posted by portugalpress on March 13, 2018

Spring is truly springing and, like me, you may be thinking about which plants to have in your garden this year.
Here are the three herbs I think every woman should have – all easy to grow, easy to use and a pleasure to behold. You can also grow them in pots!

Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

This sunshine herb is one of the most versatile and useful medicines you can have in your garden.  

It’s easy to grow from seed, does well in shade or sun and, if harvested regularly, will continue to bloom all through the summer and beyond.

The bright orange flowers, along with the resinous ‘bracts’ that make up the green base of the flower head, have been used for centuries for their innumerable healing properties – from skin healing to supporting immunity to lifting the spirits.

Perhaps the most indispensable use of calendula for women’s health is its stimulating effect on the lymphatic system, which helps to clear congestion and inflammation in the pelvic area. This helps with congestive period pain and endometriosis, and also to clear ovarian cysts and polyps.
Calendula resin is also extremely anti-bacterial and anti-fungal – combined with its regenerative properties on connective tissue, it heals wounds, clears infection and prevents scarring, making it my go-to remedy for uterine, gut and vaginal inflammation, healing post-surgery or after traumatic deliveries or Caesarean sections.

Calendula is safe to use during pregnancy and can be taken as a tincture, tea, oil, salve, pessary, medicinal bath or steam.

Dry the flower heads thoroughly before using as tea, and simply infuse in olive or almond oil for a few weeks on a windowsill or heat over a bain marie for a few hours to make a medicinal oil.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Sage is another herb we are all familiar with – its deliciously aromatic yet earthy volatile oils and their warming, digestive properties make it a wonderful herb to cook with.

As an oestrogenic herb, sage can relieve menopausal symptoms like hot flushes, anxiety and insomnia that happen due to declining oestrogen levels.

It is a powerful nervine and brain tonic, clearing stress and tension in the body, and helping to repair a frayed nervous system and poor memory.

Fresh sage tea is also wonderful for a sore throat or tonsillitis due to its soothing, anti-bacterial and anti-viral volatile oils.

For hot flushes, chop 5-6 fresh leaves and soak overnight in lemon juice. In the morning, strain and drink – do this for 7-10 days to control sweating as well as improve digestion and concentration.

Sage likes full sun, and not too much water. It grows better from a cutting, and your sage bush can be trimmed back heavily each year to make way for new growth.

Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris)

Alchemilla was the fascination of alchemists of old – the dew that collects on the leaves was believed to have magical properties.

Lady’s mantle is a great herb for gynaecological conditions as its astringent, healing and antispasmodic. It’s really helpful for painful periods, heavy flow, and uterine trauma due to abortion, miscarriage, thrush, coil insertion, pelvic inflammatory disease or fibroids.

It is a ‘progesterogenic’ herb, which means it increases natural progesterone – this helps treat PMS as progesterone is often low in women who have bad PMS.

This also helps to counteract the effect of high, ‘unopposed’ oestrogen in the body – which explains its effectiveness in conditions like heavy periods, endometriosis and fibroids in which unopposed oestrogen is a factor.

Lady’s mantle prefers partial shade to full sun, and can be grown from seed though it’s quicker to start from a cutting or root division.

Dry the leaves and flowers or use fresh for tea, or make into a tincture by steeping in vodka or brandy for four weeks before straining. Most herbs can be made into a tincture this way. Take 5ml of the tincture three times a day for any of the above conditions.

Getting quality herbs

Try to buy organic seeds or plants or take cuttings from a friend who doesn’t use pesticides in their garden. If you don’t want to wait until the summer to harvest your herbs, come and see me for a holistic consultation, after which I can prescribe a course of pharmaceutical grade tinctures.

Happy spring planting!

By Poppy Burr

Poppy, BSc MCPP, is a qualified medical herbalist practising from Aljezur and Praia da Luz. To book a consultation, visit
or call on 969 091 683.