Medicinal Herbs and the Moon

The Healing Power of Plants

Planting and harvesting by the moon works with the natural rise and fall of vital forces to make sure your herbs are getting optimum growing conditions and are harvested at their peak.

Many people are growing herbs for their healthful benefits, whether to use in the kitchen or to make their own teas, salves, or tinctures. It stands to reason that you would want to grow the healthiest plants to pass along their therapeutic vitality. Certainly you would want to use organic gardening techniques, and not use any chemicals on your healing garden.

Air Signs are for Planting Aromatic Herbs and Beautiful Flowers

  • Libra can be used to encourage growth for the plants that are harvested for their blooms.
  • Virgo rules and benefits the growth of all medicinal plants. Plant seeds in the first or second quarter, when the moon is growing.
  • If the roots are the desired parts they should be planted in the 3rd quarter, when the root growth is encouraged.
  • Other fertile water signs of Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces are also generally good.

Harvest in the Air Signs when the Moon is Waning

Harvesting at the correct time will help retain the most nutrition, essential oil vitality, aroma and healing qualities of the plant.

  • The best phase to harvest is just after the full moon, when the sap is high, but the energy has just turned downward. At this time the fluids are drawing down into the roots, taking the moisture from the plants, and making them easier to dry.
  • Harvest in an air or fire sign (Aries, Gemini, Leo, Virgo, Sagittarius, or Aquarius) during the 3rd or 4th quarter, as the moon is waning.
  • Cut flowering herbs when they just begin to open, waiting till late morning after the dew has dried.
  • Harvest seeds when they turn brown, in an air sign.
  • Hang bunches of herbs in a warm dark room with ventilation or in brown paper bags with holes punched in them. Process and dry quickly to retain vital oils, and store in a dark jar with an air tight lid, in a cool place.

Medicinal herbs work by purging toxins, building immunity or strengthening an organ or a system to promote healing. Herbs can have side effects and contraindications and this article just touches the surface, so become informed, and work with a knowledgeable health care provider. Generally they are safe, gentle and effective in promoting balanced, whole body healing. It is easy to make your own medicine at home from your home grown, organic, moon potent herbs.

Growing Medicinal Herbs in your Garden

Here is a list of some medicinal herbs that you might consider growing in your garden. Many of them are easy to grow and beautiful flowers too, doubling their value in your garden.

Calendula –Salve made from flower petals is good for skin infections, diaper rash, stings, scrapes and cuts and fungal infections. Bright orange petals also can be eaten in salads. Easy to grow.

Chamomile–Calming tea, helps with insomnia, indigestion, headache, menstrual pain and relaxes tense, aching muscles.

Yarrow–Easy to grow, aids in colds and fever, wound care, eases menstrual pain and intestinal ailments.

Peppermint–Easy to grow but can become invasive. Keep contained or give room to wander. Wonderful for stomach calming teas, headaches. Use 5-10 drops of essential oils in hot water, then breathe the vapors to open up sinuses.

Cannabis–If legal where you live, this plant treats many conditions like chronic pain, arthritis, glaucoma, seizures, anxiety, and premenstrual syndrome. It is valuable to AIDS patients or those undergoing chemotherapy to counteract the side effects of nausea, lack of appetite and unintended weight loss. Harvest the flowering buds in an Air sign, 3rd or 4th quarter. It can be inhaled (preferably with a vaporizer) or consumed as an extract in foods or capsules. Take cuttings for clones in 3rd quarter Capricorn. Marijuana is only legal to grow in states with medical marijuana laws, and with a physician’s approval.

Lemonbalm–Use as an infusion for anxiety, digestive upset, sleep aid, and as a lotion for cold sores.

Aloe Vera–Not strictly an herb, but very useful to have on hand for treating burns. Pick a leaf and apply the gel from inside directly onto the burn. Antiseptic, anti inflammatory and moisturizing qualities. Good for soothing sunburn and eczema.

Echinacea –Also known as Purple Cone Flower, is beautiful, drought resistant and good for boosting your immune system. Use the root, digging less than half the roots to make tincture. Infusions can be used for bladder infections, headache, and fever.

Garlic –Very healthful and easy to grow. Has antibiotic qualities. Eat raw garlic daily to boost the immune system, prevent circulatory problems and intestinal parasites. It acts as a blood thinner and reduces blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Also used for chest infections, colds and flu, sore throat, digestive ailments. Mash the clove and apply to bee stings. As it is a root crop, plant in the third quarter.

Comfrey –Use flower, leaf or roots as poultice for sprains, bruises, and bone injury. Use salves to treat acne, and heal scars. Harvest roots in autumn in the 3rd or 4th quarter.

Lavender –Many varieties, used for headaches, calming, insomnia, indigestion, Can be used as an antiseptic salve, to heal burns and wounds.

Rosemary –Use leaves and flowers as an infusion for a stimulating nerve tonic and aid to digestive ailments such as gas, and indigestion. Useful for headaches and insomnia.

Thyme –Use as a salve for fungal infections, as an infusion for coughs, colds and chest congestion. Essential oil is useful against staph and strep infections.

Stinging Nettles –If you have a fertile, out of the way corner where nettles can grow, they are very rich in iron and valuable as a cleansing and detoxifying herb. Harvest the less prickly young shoots in the spring and steam them to eat for a vitamin C and iron tonic. Harvest the small green flowers in summer as they are opening, and roots in the fall. Dress appropriately and use caution when harvesting, as they do sting! Use the root and leaf as an infusion for treating allergies, asthma, anemia, and to slow bleeding from wounds or heavy menstrual flow. As a salve it can be used for eczema. It is also good as a companion plant and compost source in your garden.

Sage –Many beautiful varieties, but Salvia Officianalis has the most medicinal properties. Take as an infusion a tablespoon at a time, up to 2 cups a day for cold symptoms and digestive problems. Use as a gargle for sore throat.

Holy Basil — This species of the well known culinary herb is also used as an antioxidant, antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory. It is filled with nutrients and Vitamin K, which causes blood clotting. Best used fresh.

How to make your own herbal medicine

Medicinal herbs can be made into infusions –like a tea, but stronger–to drink throughout the day. Use about 2 cups boiled water with 1-2 ounces of herb, cover and steep for about 15 min.

Tinctures are concentrates dissolved in alcohol, taken by dropper. Take 4 ounces of finely cut herbs and cover with 1 pint of spirits like vodka or brandy. Shake the mixture frequently, and let it soak for a whole moon cycle.  Strain and store in dark bottles.

To make an ointment or salve, soak ground herbs in 1 pint of pure olive oil for several days, or up to a month long lunar cycle. With roots you may want to heat them gently in the oil. Strain and add beeswax to thicken into a cream.

To use as a poultice, mix with hot water and apply herb externally to skin. Apply cloth or bandage to keep in place. Effective for drawing out infection or relieving muscle pain.

Article by Caren Catterall, creator of Gardening by the Moon Planting Guide

Caren is not a doctor and nothing on this page should be considered medical advice.