These days anyone can walk into a health food store and buy a wide range of vitamins, minerals and herbal remedies. The issue is not safety, if taken as directed, but did you pick wisely? It may or may not work just as an antibiotic wonÕt cure a headache so you need to make educated choices.

Here are some top picks, some you can even grow in your garden.

Evening Primrose takes well to our summer growing climate and makes a strikingly beautiful garden plant, with profuse yellow flowers and attractive foliage. The seed oil is very high in GLA, which has been discovered to be a vital part of a healthy diet. Taken internally, it is used for pre-menstrual tension, cramping and hormonal balance, the symptoms of eczema and dry skin, helps lower cholesterol and helps treat high blood pressure. You may eat the seeds.  Current research shows promise in the treatment of numerous other ailments including breast cancer and arthritis.

Feverfew has attractive foliage and white daisy-like flowers and will even reseed itself in driveway cracks. Feverfew is the most common migraine treatment in Europe. Mix some feverfew leaves in with the your sandwich lettuce or salad to help avert migraines. Prince Charles uses it.

Licorice root is a simple treatment for digestive irregularities including constipation, helps balance blood sugar and is used for female hormone regulation. It doesnÕt grow in this area but you can buy a root boil it and drink it as a tea.

Russian Comfrey is used as a poultice to promote healing. A very pretty plant with white or pink flowers, and looks decorative in the herb garden. It has been used for thousands of years to help heal sprains and fractures. This one I would buy, since it is best used as an ointment.

Self-Heal or Heal-All sprawls everywhere and has attractive purple or pink flowers. It is used mainly in the treatment of external wounds, though it can also be taken internally as a gargle for a sore throat.

Arnica- is the king of first aid. I am never without it. It does not grow in this area, only in the high Sierras and the mountains of Siberia. It can be purchased as an ointment, gel or tablet form and is used for strains, sprains, bruises and injuries of all kinds. Arnica works on a cellular level to prevent cell structure damage. It brings almost instant pain relief. I like the gel best. You can slather it all over and it wonÕt stain.

Valerian is a natural sedative. Its name is derived from a Latin word meaning in health. You can eat the leaves as they are, or make tea out of them. Many people prefer the tea sweetened with honey, and as honey is also a natural sedative it makes a good combination. Its delicate pink flowers make it another attractive addition to the herb garden.

Whether you stock your medicine cabinet or grow them in your garden, herbal remedies when used as directed, are a safe and inexpensive way to treat the common ailments and injuries of everyday life. Till next time, Rebecca