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"Ounce for ounce, herbs and spices have more antioxidants than any other food group" - Michael Greger
A special thank you to Rachel Potter for this wonderful share about medicinal gardening!
There’s an old saying about why chopping wood is so effective: “It warms you twice - once when you chop it and again when you burn it.” The same is true for medicinal gardening. The process of planting it is healthy in the sense that gardening gets you out in nature, it raises your heart rate, and it gets you up close to healthy foods that you might choose to eat and plant and eat again. The end result, the medicinal herbs - will also help maintain your quality of life and your overall health.
In the last decade people have gotten progressively more concerned about what they are eating. The locavore movement began in California and traveled across the U.S. as people grew more disenchanted with processed foods, factory farms, pesticides, and genetically modified foods. More and more people are choosing to buy food that is grown or raised within a specific geographic location in order to feel certain they know what they are purchasing and ingesting. This began with fruits, vegetables, and meat, and branched off into different directions, including medicines.
As healthcare in the United States has become increasingly impersonal and expensive, both young and old people are looking again at traditional methods of healing, including folk remedies. Many of these are made with herbs that can be foraged locally or grown in the backyard. The pharmaceutical industry develops medicines all the time by researching plant chemistry, and plants are already the base of our health pyramid. People figure why not try to grow some of your own and experiment with various remedies?
If you are thinking about trying home- and garden-based medicines, there are already many people who produce salves, tinctures, teas, and elixirs locally. Experiment with a few of them and see if they work for you. If they do, look at their ingredient list. Are any of them ones you might consider adding to your own yard or garden? Gardeners are often up for new challenges and will include medicinal herbs like sage in their landscaping for its aesthetic value. It’s not much of a jump from sage to growing comfrey or planting an elderberry bush.
When planning and designing your medicinal garden, it’s important to take numerous factors into consideration just as it is for landscaping, or food or flower gardens. Not only do plants grow better and avoid predation by pests when you locate them by complementary plants, but a practical garden like an herb garden is best placed where it is handy. If you’re cooking, you do not want to trek a half mile to cut off some thyme or rosemary. Fortunately, there are many types of software to aid in design and implementation of your garden, no matter which plants you want to include.
The thing about gardening is that by gardening you become much more aware of how the things around you become part of you, and not just your experiences, but part of you at a cellular level. If you extrapolate that to life, it becomes more obvious that you should surround yourself with healthy, natural people and things that nourish your spirit and your body. “You are what you eat,” is a cliche phrase, but true. It’s also true that you are what you do, so choose carefully!