Prescription medicines can be powerful allies in your quest for a long life, but did you know that there is a wealth of healing to be found in your garden? From the aloe that soothes your burns to the capsaicin in peppers that clears your sinuses, you can grow a host of remedies at your fingertips.
One of the most common health afflictions is inflammation; in our joints, our cardiovascular system, even our organs. Inflammation begins as a complex biological response to cell damage, or infection, but can be harmful when it becomes chronic. Chronic inflammation can occur everywhere in the body, and plenty of research indicates that it is a common trigger for, and contributor to, multiple chronic diseases. For example, excess inflammation in your system can damage blood vessel linings (in atherosclerosis), pancreatic tissue (in diabetes), and joint tissue (in arthritis).
The good news? There are foods that can help reduce inflammation in the body and can be grown in your vegetable garden. Think dark leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard, kale, and broccoli. Root vegetables like beets, garlic, and onions are also good choices. All are considered natural anti-inflammatories. For those fitness types, brew a cup of lemon verbena tea before your next workout. Not only will it calm the nerves and lessen anxiety, but it has been shown in a study by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition to reduce joint pain and aching, reducing recovery times for joint-related injuries. Plus, its specific mix of compounds can reduce your hunger cravings and increase your body’s fat-burning ability, helping you shed those unwanted pounds you’re trying to work off!
Many of us experience stomach woes, immediately causing us to reach for the anti-nausea medicine. I don’t know about you, but I don’t care for the taste of most indigestion medicines. Too chalky, too yucky. If you’re like me and would rather forgo the medicine cabinet when your belly aches, turn to your herb garden instead. A nibble of basil will work wonders to appease your upset, as will ginger.
If you’re battling a stomach ulcer, try cabbage juice. Studies have shown that cabbage juice has dietary factors that produce rapid healing results in patients with peptic ulcers versus those treated by standard therapy, not to mention it tastes great!
Mental and Emotional
Ever need a mental boost after a long day (or long night)? Look no further than rosemary. Simply brush your hands through its leaves and inhale. Neurons will immediately perk up and start firing on all cylinders. Even better, rosemary prevents forgetfulness. Important for that special date you don’t want to miss. And while you’re there, don’t forget to discreetly chew that sprig of parsley on your plate. Parsley is nature’s breath freshener!
As we roll into summer, consider planting pumpkins in your garden. Not only will they please the kids during Halloween, they’ll make for scrumptious pumpkin pie, and their seeds provide ample magnesium—important for your bone and muscle health. Pumpkin seeds also contain tryptophan which helps ease insomnia. Your body converts tryptophan to serotonin and melatonin, the “relaxing-time-to-go-to-sleep” hormones, thereby making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. The scent of your lavender sachet will enhance this process, but did you know that it’s also a great flea repellent? Now even your pet can benefit from your medicinal garden! And sleep well, too.
Now that you know the secret ingredients to cure what ails you, go ahead and pass the medicine aisle on your next trip to the store and head straight to your home garden, instead. Gardening is a life lived well.