Five Easy to Grow Garden Herbs and their Health Benefits
It’s Spring and Summer is on the way. To me, that means I’ll soon be tending to my garden, which I love for many reasons. I love to play in the dirt! I’m sort of a child when it comes to gardening, I get so excited when the first little shoots start to appear from the tiny seeds. Having my hands and feet in the soil also helps me feel a sense of calm and connection to a stable, grounding energy. I have some great memories of our garden when I was young, not pulling the weeds, but that feeling of pulling a tomato off the vine and taking a juicy bite…heaven!
Over my years of study in Ayurveda the 5,000-year-old study of natural, holistic health and wellness, I’ve had an opportunity to explore readily available garden herbs and their health benefits. I’ve found my body responds in a gentler way to a tea of cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds to settle my stomach than if I rely on a chemically formulated medicine for short-term relief. Here are a few easy to grow herbs that are also useful for minor health issues:
Cilantro – Cilantro comes from Coriander seeds and is an essential ingredient in many summer recipes. Ayurvedically coriander seeds are well known as a carminative (an herb that relieves or prevents gas in the digestive system). Cilantro leaves have properties of a natural antihistamine and can calm the immune system and calm a poison ivy rash.
Celery – is easy to overlook as having value due to its underwhelming flavor however it has many benefits. Celery is a diaphoretic meaning it opens sweat glands. It also contains compounds that relax the muscles surrounding arteries which can help lower high blood pressure and improve circulation.
Basil – If you have a summertime cold Basil can be a powerful ally. Basil contains cinnamic acid which helps break up phlegm in the bronchial tubes. It also contains high amounts of Vitamin C. Studies have shown basil as a member of the mint family to be effective in reducing the effects of diabetic neuropathy.
Mint – Mint is distinguished by its high concentration of the oil known as mentha, which gives mint its refreshing smell. Mentha has numbing properties and can be used topically after it has been crushed to relieve itching from a rash (especially if you have gotten into some stinging nettles!) Mint is also helpful to ease stomach cramps, as an antispasmodic it relaxes smooth muscle tissue.
Planning for next year…
Plant Garlic in the fall and it will be ready to harvest by next August. Garlic is well known to reduce inflammation in the body and help lower cholesterol when added to your diet. It also has antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties and can give your immune system a boost.
Gardening can be a powerful support for overall health and wellness. It’s fabulous that we have the opportunity to nourish ourselves body and mind with the process of preparing and caring for a garden through these months of sunshine and growth. A community garden is also a terrific way to get to know your neighbors, learn from and support one another.
The use of herbs is meant as a supportive therapy for general health and wellness and is not meant to replace treatment or medicines your medical doctor is recommending.
~Tonia Mayerle, Ayurveda Health Counselor and Yoga Instructor