There are thousands of products on the market today that cure common health problems such as headaches and stomach aches, but experts say folks don't have to go too much farther than their own yards to get things that will help with these issues.
There are many herbs that provide relief for just about any health issue and because most of them can be grown in a person's garden and some even grow on their own, it's usually cheaper and easier to use them than something off a store shelf.
For Marietta resident Beth Ann Weber, the secret is in her handmade soaps and salves.
Photo submitted by Beth Ann Weber
Beth Ann Weber is pictured at last year’s Harvest Moon Arts and Crafts Festival in Parkersburg with her handmade soaps and salves.
"Our skin is the largest organ of our body so anything we're putting on our skin is going to affect our system," said Weber, 42. "Many people are sensitive to synthetic perfumes and synthetic colors but many people who react and think they can't use soap or skin care products will find they can use handmade ones."
For about eight years, Weber, owner of Appalachian Heritage Soaps and Sundries, has made soaps and salves and sold them at various craft shows and festivals. Her products are also sold in a few stores.
She uses a variety of ingredients to make the products. For instance, her black walnut salve is made with olive oil, black walnut shells, plantain, calendula, thyme, beeswax, vitamin E and lavender, tea tree and thyme essential oils.
Herbs and their medicinal purposes:
Basil: chronic gastritis and stomach aches.
Fennel: common cold and bruises.
Garlic: reduces high blood pressure and acts as a cancer deterrent.
Ginseng: improves lung function and treats seasickness and airsickness.
Parsley: kidney stones.
Rosemary: antidepressant and memory stimulant.
Thyme: improves liver and kidney function.
"It's anti-fungal and it's been used for centuries for toenail and foot and skin infections," Weber said of the black walnut tree.
Weber said where she gets the ingredients for her soaps and salves varies. Plantain, for example, grows naturally in her yard, while calendula is something she began growing.
The calendula - a type of marigold - soothes irritated skin, she said. Plantain, which many people eliminate with weed spray, serves the same purpose. Chickweed, she said, has similar properties.
Even wounds and bruising can be alleviated with a plant called comfrey, Weber said, and the soap she makes using a combination of jewel weed and witch hazel is ideal for healing poison ivy.
"(Jewel weed) grows wild in our region and it was a Native American cure for poison ivy and anything itchy - the stem is hollow and has a liquid in it," she said. "It grows in dark, moist places just like poison ivy, so typically if you can find poison ivy, you can find it."
Kevin Tidd, manager of Mother Earth Foods in Parkersburg, said garlic - although it has a strong odor - is one of the best herbs a person can have in their garden.
"There are compounds that come together in garlic that help in anti-viral and anti-bacterial ways," he said. "It's one of those plants you plant in the fall and it has to be there for a year and once you start harvesting...it's one of those things that keeps coming back."
Tidd said while some herbs, such as garlic, can be consumed in their fresh state for medicinal purposes, other herbs, such as white willow and wintergreen - good for headache relief - are typically dried and used as ingredients in tea.
He said even something like parsley, usually used by restaurants as a garnish, can freshen a person's breath and serve as a diuretic.
"People get swelling and a little parsley tea will help drain excess fluid from the body," he said.
"Most everything everyone grows in their garden has a medicinal quality to it if you look far enough," Tidd added.