In our modern world, where we can buy all of our medicine and all of our food at the supermarket, a lot of us have forgotten where the medicines we take and food we eat comes from.
In most communities around the world plants have been used over centuries for medicinal purposes, but the medicine we buy today has often been added to with chemicals and other synthetic substances before we buy it. We don’t really know what we are putting into our body.
Instead of buying artificial unnatural medicine, why not get straight to the heart of it and grow your own medicinal plants? By doing this you not only get the health benefits of natural medicine, but you also save money by growing everything yourself. Here’s the top five plants you should be growing in your medicine garden and the benefits they have:
You will have probably seen this orange and yellow flower growing in your neighbor’s yard, but did you know they are packed with antioxidants, which wards off free radicals and helps to protect DNA against cancer cells proliferating. Studies at Washington State University revealed that an antioxidant in marigolds reduced and event prevented tumors in mice. Its other uses include working as an anti-inflammatory and as an insect repellent by paralyzing insects!
You may already be a fan of consuming basil leaves as part of Italian food, but did you know the leaf is also a great source of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a compound that your body can turn into vitamin A, which is great for healthy vision, your immune system and cell growth. Soothing basil oil will help relieve swelling in your bones and joints, and can also work as an antibacterial.
Chinese yam is actually a vine and has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes, primarily because of its therapeutic effects. It is also rich in vitamin B6, which helps to protect against heart disease by breaking down an amino acid that damages blood vessel walls, called homocysteine. Many people use the yam for sore throats, diarrhea and to control weight gain, and you can eat it raw from the garden to get its fantastic benefits.
Part of the mint family, lemon balm smells equally as appealing, and can be used to help with digestion, lesions and cold sores, as well as help with sleeping and reducing anxiety. The University of Maryland has found that the balm is particularly effective in treating herpes lesions that appear both on the mouth and the genitals. Use dried balm leaves to create a tea or eat as part of a salad.
You may already use thyme to garnish your roast chicken or to add flavor to potatoes, but thyme has more than decorative and herb attributes. It is an effective antiseptic and antibacterial and can help to reduce bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Research from the Leeds Metropolitan University in England also found that thyme can help to treat acne, a sore throat, and arthritis. The great thing about this herb is that is can be stored and gets better with time (forgive the pun)!
Medicinal plants are very powerful; never forget that, so why not just give it a try and grow a couple of your own in your garden.
By Charlotte H.