Chewed, brewed, and added to food, medicinal herbs that promote gut health are an ongoing health trend.


Unlike modern medicine, which often suppresses symptoms they help the body heal itself rather than just suppressing symptoms. Jane Griffiths recommends these five system cleansing herbs.


Red clover, is high in vitamins, proteins and minerals, and is a good liver detoxifier and blood cleanser.

Grow it: Sow seeds in situ and it will quickly germinate and grow up to 30–90cm high. It likes light, well-drained soil in full sun, but doesn’t mind some afternoon shade. All clovers are nutrient-accumulating legumes and quick-growing green manures, plus they attract bees.



Ginger cleanses the body by stimulating circulation and causing the body to sweat.

Grow it: It prefers filtered sun and rich, well-drained soil. Plant a piece of fresh ginger with well-developed growth buds at an angle, with one end just below the surface and the other end about 5cm deep. Keep it moist until shoots appear. This can take up to three weeks, so be patient. Leave it for its first season to build up its roots and start harvesting in the autumn of its second year.

READ MORE: Homemade ginger beer


Dandelion is known as an alternative, that is a herb that restores health by purifying the body.

Grow it: They have long taproots, and instead of competing with their neighbours, they benefit them by drawing out nutrients and minerals (particularly calcium) from lower levels. When they die, their long root channels provide ‘mine shafts’ for earthworms, enabling them to penetrate deeper into the soil than they would normally. They can takeover so keep an eye on them and pull them out before they go to seed.



Milk thistle is an antioxidant and cleanser used to treat the gall bladder, liver and kidneys.

Grow it: This unusual and surprisingly beautiful herb has green and white mottled leaves and purple flowers. If you have seeds saved from an existing plant, sow them in early summer, about 3mm deep. Seedlings are available from specialist herb nurseries such as Mountain Herb Estate. It’s not fussy about soil and will grow in light shade to full sun.


Nettles are rich in vitamins and minerals. They are a gentle diuretic and liver and kidney cleanser. They also stimulate the lymphatic system.

Grow it: Nettles grow easily in any soil and prefer semi-shade. Seedlings are available from herb centres or they can be propagated from a piece of root. Nettles spread easily and can become invasive if not cut back regularly. In late autumn, cut the plants right down to the ground and mulch lightly. Despite its sting, nettle is a beneficial addition to the garden. It attracts pollinating butterflies and is a nutrient accumulator, enriching and energising the soil. It also activates and speeds up decomposition in the compost heap.

HOW TO USE THEM: Body cleansing herbal tea

*Although natural, herbal remedies can be toxic. Use them with caution. Children and pregnant women should be particularly careful.