Live from her rooftop garden in NYC, Dr. Gabrielle Francis shows her medicinal plants.

“I love the summer in NYC because I get to immerse myself in my rooftop garden. The plants provide endless beauty and some great editions to the salads and teas. Here is a little wisdom about the medicinal benefits of some of my favorites!”

BasilBasil – Ocimum basilicum

Basil is well known for it’s use in Italian cuisine and is the main ingredient in Pesto sauce. It is also a common herb in Thai, Vietnamese, and Indonesian cuisines. The recipes for using basil are endless.

Basil is rich in essential oils, flavonoids, and anthocyanidines. It is also rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium.

Health Benefits of Basil Include:

  • Reduces inflammation and swelling
  • Anti-aging
  • Anti-oxidants
  • Helps to relax muscles
  • Stress reduction
  • Adrenal balancing How to use Fresh Basil:
  • Use fresh basil in your favorite pesto recipe
  • Add basil to your favorite salad
  • Add a sprig of basil to your sun tea jar

Food is medicine!

Lavender and HeadphonesLavender

Lavender is an herb that is native to North African and the regions of the Mediterranean. It is highly regarded for it’s use in skin and beauty products and is commonly used in beauty products to help purify the skin and hair. The word Lavender comes from the Latin word lavare, which means, “to wash”.

Lavender essential oil is the component of the plant that gives it the wonderful smell and the medicinal properties.

Health Benefits of Lavender:

  • Beneficial for symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia
  • Promotes wound healing of the skin
  • ‘Relieves muscle tension and spasm
  • Reduces headaches
  • Helps hairloss
  • Antiseptic, Anti-Fungal and Anti-Inflammatory
  • Helps reduces symptoms of PMS

How to use Lavender Essential Oil:

  • Add a few drops to an oil and massage it into your tension spots
  • Put 3-5 drops in a diffuser and let it permeate the room air
  • Add a drop to your pillow at night and sweet dreams. How to use Fresh Lavender:
  • Add a spring or two to your Lemonade or sun tea and let it brew
  • And that only names a few! Food is Medicine!

Coleus Herban GardenerColeus Forskohlii Plectranthus Barbatus

Coleus is a tropical plant native to Southern Asia and is a relative to the mint and lavender family. I love having this beauty in my roof garden as a decorative plant. There has been a lot of recent research on this plant showing lots of medicinal benefits.

Medicinal Benefits of Coleus:

  • Increased cardiovascular health
  • Fat burning properties
  • Improved thyroid function
  • Treatment for glaucoma
  • Relaxes smooth muscles and reduces blood pressure

Using Coleus as a supplement:

  • Coleus is a popular supplement that can be found in your local health food store
  • I recommend consulting your doctor before you try using it!

Aren’t nature’s medicines beautiful?

Red HibiscusHibiscus Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

Hibiscus is a beautiful flowering shrub that grows throughout tropical and subtropical regions such as Africa, Egypt, Sudan, Mexico and the Caribbean, China and Thailand. It is amazing that I get to have a few of these gorgeous plants on my roof in NYC. The Hibiscus has citric acid, malic acid, alkaloids, anthocyanins, and quercitin, which give the herb, is numerous health benefits.

Health Benefits of Hibiscus:

  • Helps manage blood pressure
  • Helps to maintain healthy cholesterol
  • Provides anti-oxidants which reduce aging and inflammation

Recipe for Hibiscus Sun Tea (Jamaica):

  • Collect dried hibiscus buds or buy from you local herb store
  • Add 8-12 buds to 2 quarts of purified water
  • Put this in a large glass jar with a lid
  • Add some spice to it such as cinnamon sticks, mint leaves, and or some organic orange peel.
  • Let is sit in the sun for about 6 hours
  • Add Ice and enjoy this refreshing summer beverage!


happy-orange-treeCalamondin Miniature Orange

Calamondin is a miniature orange and native to China. I bought this lovely little tree from Mr. and Mrs. Wu who have a garden center in Chinatown. It loves the hot sun on the roof and must be watered daily.

The edible fruit is like a mini tangerine. It tastes delicious and is high in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, calcium and potassium. Each orange is a bite of anti-oxidants and electrolytes.

There is something so Happy about looking at this miniature orange tree!


I just picked some roses from my assortment of roof top rose plants. I picked the petals off and added them to my filtered water. Now I am just chillin’with my rose water. After one day of the sun infusing the essential oils of the petals into the water, I will put the rose water in a glass spray bottle.

Rosewater chillinBenefits of Rose Water:

  • Soothes and calms sensitive skin
  • Cleanses oily skin and blemishes
  • Nourishes aging and sun damaged skin
  • Revitalizes skin
  • Helps to reduces puffiness around the eyes
  • Has natural antiseptic properties

How to Use Rose Water:

  • Facial mist before your facial creams
  • Room Spray for fresher air •
  • Spray as a body spritzer for a mid day refresher
  • Add to your bath
  • Use as a perfume

Beauty remedies from the garden! I love this stuff!