Every home should have a medicinal garden, says Monik Adriaens, who made intensive research in the Rwenzori area, Toro, Kasese and isolated areas in southern Uganda. In her book, Family Medicinal Plant Gardens, she advised on how herbal medicine can be best utilised.
l Donâ€™t pick plants growing in polluted places, like roadsides, borders, factories and places where farmer use pesticides and chemicals on land and animals.
l Pick only healthy and clean plants.
l Pick plants when the weather is dry and shiny, not after rain.
l Most plants contain more active properties in the late morning.
l You should be sure and be able to identify the right plant.
l You should know which part of the plant you need.
l Donâ€™t mix different plants in the same bag when harvested.
l Donâ€™t destroy the plant when it is not necessary. If you need the root of an annual plant, donâ€™t cut or uproot the whole plant. Some plants should be left over to produce seeds. If the plant is a perennial plant, use only a part of the roots or the secondary roots.
l The roots or rhizomes of an annual plant can be collected when the plant starts dying or losing its leaves. For a perennial plant it is better when the plant has already had two or three seasons. After harvesting you should wash them well without brushing.
l Most flowers should be picked before they are completely open.
l Most leaves have the highest active properties just before the plants start flowering.
l The best time of collecting stems is just after the leaves appear till before flowering.
l The best time of collecting the bark is dependent on the age of the tree and is different for each tree.
When a tree is deciduous and loses its leaves, pick the leaves when they are completely developed and when there is a lot of sap.
l Most plants can be used fresh or dry. But there are exceptions; some plants can be poisonous when used fresh and others when dry.
The system of trial and error is risky. Consult those in the know (elders, traditional medicine men, those who have ever used the herbs before and scientific research books and publications).
Every home should have a garden of medicinal plants used as a first aid pharmacy.
How to use herbal medicine