By Nick Polizzi
Guest writer for Wake Up World
Planting an herb garden is the perfect way to bring in the spring, and we humans have been doing it for thousands of years.
The ancients believed that every one of us can speak the language of the plants. That we can learn how to harness their medicines by spending focused time with them — just like cultivating a relationship with a new friend!
What’s fascinating about this sacred belief is that it’s being proven by modern science.
Get this: There’s an abundance of scientific evidence that supports the health benefits of gardening. The data shows that tending to flowers and simply cohabitating with nature can calm anxiety, lift symptoms of depression and lower blood pressure! The subtle aromas from plants create an atmosphere of ease, while the meditation of working outside in nature has a number of its own physical and mental benefits.
Not to mention the amazing flavor and healing nutrients that these fresh herbs bring to every meal.
Ready to create your own herb garden this spring?
Here are 5 healing herbs that are easy to grow, no matter where you live.
#1 Peppermint (or anything from the mint family — rosemary, lemon balm, etc.)
I consider peppermint an absolute must-have in the garden and in my life. Peppermint is an amazing ally for flu season because it is known to break fevers, soothe pain and calm stomach aches in record time.
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) is so low-maintenance that you’ll hardly have to pay attention to it and it will still thrive. They grow very quickly, and even more so if you regularly pluck their abundant leaves for teas or for culinary purposes. (Just remember to cut gently at the stem and not take too much too soon or you will damage the plant.)
*Peppermint likes gritty, moist soil and partial sunlight.
#2 Marigold (aka Calendula officinalis)
These gorgeous golden flowers pop up in early summer if the seeds are tended to throughout the spring. Their petals are a powerful topical healer. Calendula is appropriate for any skin type. It can heal rashes, acne, minor scratches and bug bites. Taken as a tea, marigold petals help move lymphatic fluid properly to stimulate detoxification.
Plant these ASAP and see them sprout and bloom in the early summer. Give each seed about 12-18 square inches and bury them 1/4 inch into loamy, well-drained soil. Water regularly to keep the dirt moist, but not drenched.
Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) is a crowd pleaser for many reasons. Their small white petals spark joy in anyone who sees them. Their pleasant aroma is calming. As a tea, they quell anxious stomach aches, bring comfort to sick kiddos, and relaxes tense muscles.
Chamomile grows well in almost any climate — but they are easier to start from a plant than seed. They are incredibly easy to take care of. They are drought-tolerant and you don’t really need to baby them once they’ve grown out.
*The strong aroma of chamomile makes them the ideal partner to any vegetable patch because they ward off critters and insects!
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)is usually the first green medicine that pops into people’s minds when they think of calming herbs. They’re relaxing both internally and topically. The scent of lavender has been proven to bring down cortisol levels, which are behind our fight or flight hormone reflex. Added to oils, creams and salves, lavender is a powerful muscle relaxant and wound healer. But its legendary use has been to invoke lively dreams by promoting deep sleep.
Best grown from clippings of a mature bush, lavender grows and solidifies itself quickly. Because of their resilient nature, lavender is best planted at least 2 feet apart. It grows best in drier soils, so keep that in mind as you’re tending your garden. Add lots of mulch to help the soil drain, if you live in a city where it rains often.
*Lavender attracts pollinators of all kinds, making your backyard a sanctuary for local butterflies, bees and hummingbirds,
#5 Dandelions – Let them grow!
To quote my friend, Rosalee de la Foret of LearningHerbs, “lawn purists” have poisoned this beloved herbal remedy for decades, but it continues to grow.
Truly every part of a dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is medicinal. It’s widely respected as one of the premiere detox herbs, and decoction tea made of its roots is a great diet drink that helps you burn fat.
If you haven’t tried this yet, fresh dandelion leaves are an amazing addition to salads and pestos to give a little bit of bite to sweeter recipes.
They’re highly medicinal and extremely flavorful when prepared the right way, BUT it’s the blooms and fuzzy seeds that bring giggles and laughter to children.
For all these reasons, I truly believe that dandelions should be protected.
With these 5 easy herbs-to-cultivate, you’ll have a living medicine sanctuary that you can turn to for relief from everyday ailments.
About the author:
Nick Polizzi has spent his career directing and editing feature length documentaries about natural alternatives to conventional medicine. Nick’s current role as director of “The Sacred Science” documentary and author of “The Sacred Science: An Ancient Healing Path For The Modern World” stems from a calling to honor, preserve, and protect the ancient knowledge and rituals of the indigenous peoples of the world.
For more, visit www.thesacredscience.com (where this article first appeared.)