A garden of healing: why (and which) herbs deserve your gardening time and space

Since the dawn of our species, humans have looked to plants for healing. Belief in the medicinal properties of foods have surfaced in many early writings of man, and Hippocrates is frequently quoted as having said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

With inarguable assets to the cooking process, herbs have long been revered for culinary reasons, sought after by chefs looking to enhance and enliven the flavor of an intricate dish.

Plants offering both culinary enrichment and quantifiable health benefits belong in any garden, says Certified Nutritionist Specialist Alisha Chasey.

“Herbs are so good for your health because they are loaded with antioxidants and phytochemicals,” she explains. “These properties help with everything from fighting wrinkles to preventing chronic diseases, and you can use them in countless ways; from creating natural skin creams to medicinal teas. Upon a deeper investigation of herbs, you’ll find they aren’t an obselete health treatment either – over 100 of them are used in modern pharmaceuticals. When it comes to herbs, the nutritional benefits really are huge.”

Obviously, thinking of “herbs” in general terms is not as helpful as knowing which herb heals which ailment, and which herbs will flourish in Florida’s unique climate. Here are a few picks for herbs that are easy to grow in Florida and heavy on the healing properties.

Coriander: helps regulate blood sugar

This healing herb stimulates the endocrine glands, naturally increasing insulin secretion at a slow, steady pace. This helps decrease blood sugar levels safely by prompting better assimilation and absorption of sugar. For those with diabetes, coriander is very beneficial because it helps stave off the dangerous spikes and drops in blood sugar levels diabetes is known for, while helping ensure other normal metabolic functions as well.

Ginger: the ultimate digestive aid

With unrivaled digestive healing properties, ginger can not only knock out nausea, prevent bloating and decrease gas, it also combats both morning sickness and motion sickness. The secret of this pungent herb is ginger’s ability to calm the intestinal tract, thereby actually stimulating digestion. By relaxing the muscles of your digestive system, ginger effectively allows them to return to work.

Mint: eases respiratory problems

With its unmistakable aroma, mint is very effective in clearing up congestion of the nose, throat and lungs, giving great relief for respiratory disorders that often result from asthma and the common cold. As mint cools and soothes the respiratory channels, it relieves the irritation responsible for chronic coughing and discomfort. Word of caution: One of the easiest herbs to grow, be sure to plant it in a confined space to avoid letting it take over your whole garden.

Alisha Chasey earned her Masters in Nutrition, is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Nutrition Specialist and owner of Innocent Indulgence in Naples. Her passion is coaching you to experience radiant living through optimal wellness by making “healthy” daily, delicious & doable – and by revealing that true health encompasses the spirit, mind and body. Learn more at Innocentindulgence.net.

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