6 functional herbs to grow and use at home


6 functional herbs to
Developed and used at home

There are two great benefits to growing your own herbs: You know exactly where they come from and what was used to grow them. And you get a constant supply.

We asked herbalist Rachelle Robinett, founder of HRBLS and Pharmakon Supernatural, to share six functional herbs for beginners, how to grow them, and what to do with your bounty.



What makes it so good: Lavender belongs to the so-called psychoactive herb, which helps support a healthy nervous system and a sense of balance in the body. (Other psychoactives include chamomile, kava, lemon balm, and valerian.) Lavender is one of the best-studied herbs for creating feelings of calm. Robinett loves it because it’s well tolerated and super versatile.

How to develop it: Lavender blooms best in full sun; lower quality, well-drained soil; and mostly dry conditions. So stick it somewhere sunny and neglect it for a bit. It is a slow dev, so don’t expect a bonus in your first year.

Which part of the plant to use: Mostly flower buds. The flowers and leaves are also edible, but you’ll get the most out of the buds.

How to harvest it: Don’t wait until the flowers bloom – the natural oils in the plant won’t be as strong. Cut individual stems around the tips of the leaves, but avoid cutting the woody parts of the plant. (If you cut them, it won’t grow back.) You can then use your fingers or scissors to separate the bud from the stem.

How to use it: Smash some buds for homemade tea and tincture or bake your lavender into something sweet. Even just smelling lavender, says Robinett, is a great way to reap the benefits — maybe you want to put lavender bouquets around the house or pack dried flower buds into an eye pillow.

Also go with: Rosemary, perilla and valerian.



What makes it so good: Robinett uses rosemary when she wants to support memory and cognitive function; It is a nootropic, which means it enhances brain function. It is most widely known for that purpose: There is even a quote in Hamlet that says that rosemary is for remembrance. In herbal medicine, it is also considered a digestive tonic, or digestive tonic, and it is also said to support healthy circulation.

How to develop it: Rosemary is hardy and can withstand extreme temperatures. And it requires almost no water. Just place it where it gets sunlight during the day and harvest generously when the plants start to bloom.

Which part of the plant to use: The leaves.

How to harvest it: Cut off entire branches with pruning shears.

How to use it: In the bath after a tough workout. Take a handful of the cuttings – there’s no need to separate the leaves from the stems, but you can give them a quick wash to remove dirt – and pack them into a large package to soak in the tub.

Also go with: Basil, lavender and bacopa.

Geranium rose

Geranium rose

What makes it so good: Like witch hazel, rose geranium is considered an astringent, which means it can be good for your skin and digestive tract. It’s also pungent in a nice way: You don’t need a ton, just a leaf or two.

How to develop it: Robinett likes the geranium rose partly because it’s hard to kill. Grow it anywhere: in the ground, in pots, indoors. Just don’t over-water – it doesn’t like getting wet. If it starts to lengthen, go ahead and prune it back to encourage it to grow a bit. (If you stick the cutting upright in the soil around your tree, it can grow into a new plant.)

Which part of the plant to use: The leaves.

How to harvest it: Tear each card one at a time — again, you don’t need too many at once.

How to use it: Robinett loves to infuse geranium rose water—just pluck a leaf or two and drop it into a glass of carbonated water. Or, if you’re feeling crafty, she suggests making your own products for your body and family: Her homemade deodorant includes rose geranium, witch hazel, aloe and aloe vera. sage tree. Or mix it with rose water to make a room spray.

Also go with: Witch hazel and rose water.

Perilla earth

Perilla earth

What makes it so good: Perilla is a panacea and a member of the mint family. It has a slight citrus flavor, which comes from the limonene terpene. Limonene, as a compound, is popular for supporting sunny moods – you’ll also find it in lavender, juniper, and some cannabis strains. And while shiso doesn’t have sedative properties, it’s great at bedtime because of its calming properties.

How to develop it: Perilla will grow in full sun all day, but it also tolerates shade. Just make sure that the soil is well drained and not waterlogged. One note, when your plants are growing: Perilla is an extremely successful self-seeding plant, and if left unattended it can take over your garden. Cut off the flowers as soon as they appear if you want to avoid that fate.

Which part of the plant to use: The leaves.

How to harvest it: You can take each leaf as needed. But for larger harvests, if you’re taking the entire stem at once, wait until the plant starts to flower.

How to use it: For a stronger tea with greater benefits, Robinett recommends an overnight infusion. Tuck a handful of healthy perilla leaves—something like a third or a half cup—into the bottom of a Mason jar. Then fill the pitcher with hot water and leave it overnight on the counter or in the refrigerator. “Most people steep the tea for five to 10 minutes,” says Robinett. “When you soak overnight, you are extracting the full benefits of the plant: all the vitamins, all the minerals. You can drink a whole liter in a day.”

Also go with: St. John’s wort.



What makes it so good: Robinett keeps oregano oil with her to use when her immune system needs a boost — it’s naturally antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral. Usually, she takes it by mouth when traveling or applied topically for cuts and scrapes. Plus, when it’s flowering, oregano tends to attract and aid bees and other pollinating insects.

How to develop it: Oregano loves the sun, so plant it somewhere bright during the day. Water when the soil feels dry to the touch and prune the plant weekly — you can pinch the stem with your fingers — to encourage dense growth.

Which part of the plant to use: The leaves.

How to harvest it: Clip the branches as you need them — no more than a third at a time — then strip the leaves by running your fingers down the stem. You can also freeze the leaves for up to a year.

How to use it: Brew it like a tea or toss it in something savory. You probably won’t grow enough to make your own oregano, but if you do, you can simply infuse a bunch of oregano leaves in coconut or olive oil for a few weeks.

Also go with: If you’re taking oregano oil or drinking oregano as a tea, supplement it with a vitamin D supplement or functional mushrooms like reishi, chaga, or turkey tail.



What makes it so good: Robinett says that Peppermint is great after a meal while your stomach settles. She also loves it for its cooling properties—a property you can feel for yourself when you brush your teeth with mint toothpaste or apply peppermint oil to your skin. Because it’s cooling, people may find it soothing hot conditions, like acid reflux or certain types of headaches. Some people also use it when they have hiccups. Fun Facts About Herbs: Mint is one of the herbs mentioned in the oldest preserved record of medicinal plants, the Ebers Papyrus, an Egyptian text dating back to around 1550 BC.

How to develop it: Mint prefers cool climate, slightly acidic soil, partial shade. Very dry soil can damage the mint plant, so keep it moist (but not muddy).

Which part of the plant to use: The leaves.

How to harvest it: Peppermint oil is what gives it its flavor and functional properties, and it is at its richest as soon as it begins to bloom. Prick each leaf if you only need a few or cut the whole stem if you need a lot. The best place to cut is just above the second lowest set of leaves.

How to use it: You can brew a handful of mint leaves in hot water as an after-dinner tea, if desired. Or simply crush it between your fingers and inhale. Or if you want to make your own peppermint oil (it takes time but it’s worth it), try mixing a few drops into coconut oil and applying the mixture to your temples and nape to help get you through the headache.

Also go with: Caraway seeds and cumin.


If you are growing herbs for functional benefits, you want to be sure that what you are growing has medicinal qualities: “For example, many varieties of pink geraniums are no longer medicinal plants because they have bred to be good looking instead,” says Robinett. If you have a local conservation group that specializes in edible and medicinal plants, they should be able to point you in the right direction. (If you’re lucky, they can also teach you how to feed.)

Robinett also emphasizes the importance of cultivating endangered herbs. So Flamingo Estate sells a pack of rare seeds and United Plant Savers keeps a list of medicinal plants at risk of infection.


This article is for informational purposes only, even if and notwithstanding the advice of doctors and other medical professionals. This article is not, nor is it intended as a substitute for, professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The views expressed in this article are those of experts and do not necessarily represent the views of goop.

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