Posted on April 18, 2012
In the spirit of sustainable healthy living it’s time to plant your medicine cabinet! Did you know that you can have an arsenal of immune enhancing, cancer fighting, brain boosting super foods at your green little finger tips? Not only does it make economic sense to grow your own food but also you can literally tailor your medicine cabinet to suit your maladies.
Using food as medicine is the most basic fundamental of a healthy life. Food. It’s basic. Eat it. We have gotten so far removed from our food sources and so whacked out on diet trends that we are forgetting to eat actual, whole foods. Growing medicinals not only connects you to your food source but it can save your life. Heart disease, bowel cancers, inflammatory diseases and mental health are all affected by food. Period. And hiding behind “organic, healthy, processed foods and snacks” doesn’t count. Eating foods as close to their natural state is where the vital chemical exchange happens. What follows is a list of foods that you can start growing today along with their medicinal properties.
This list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to foods we can grow for medicine but most of these can be grown in this area and are safe for the general public to consume. Happy feasting!!
BURDOCK: Medicinal Properties: Alterative, diuretic, bitter, laxative, tonic, vulnerary, antibacterial and antifungal. Used since the 14th century, by the Ojibwa Indians, for treating cancer and ulcers. Burdock has antibacterial and antifungal properties: contains Vitamin A, selenium and chromium, and it helps regulate blood sugar levels and acts as an antioxidant. Burdock contains biotin, copper, iron, manganese, zinc, volatile oils, sulfur, tannins, three B vitamins, and vitamin E.
CHAMOMILE: Medicinal Properties: Sedative, anti-inflammatory & antispasmodic. Modern herbalists advocate a tea made from the flower heads for muscular spasms and to relieve pain and swelling caused by arthritis or an injury, and for use as a sedative. A recent study among humans supports using chamomile tea as a sedative. Extensive animal experiments reveal that the tea has anti-inflammatory properties, especially useful in allaying arthritis and other conditions characterized by pain, heat, redness and swelling. Scientific evidence also shows that the tea is a valid antispasmodic for relieving cramps. Chamomile contains traces of vitamin A, a high level of calcium and magnesium, potassium, iron, manganese and zinc.
DANDELION: Medicinal Properties: Hepatic, aperient, diuretic, depurative, tonic, anti-rheumatic, hepatic, and stomachic. Dandelion is an effective blood and liver purifier; it increases the production of bile, aids digestion, and encourages the free flow of urine. It improves the functioning of the pancreas, spleen, liver, bladder, and kidneys. Dandelion is also helpful against anemia, gallstones, gout, hypoglycemia, rheumatism, jaundice, cirrhosis, hepatitis, cramps and constipation. It is reported to also reduce levels of serum cholesterol and uric acid, and may even help prevent breast cancer, and prevent age spots.
FENNEL: Medicinal Properties: Carminative, aromatic, anti-spasmodic, stimulant, galactogogue, rubefacient, expectorant, anti-emetic, diaphoretic, hepatic. It is an excellent stomach and intestinal remedy that relieves flatulence and colic.
FEVERFEW: Medicinal Properties: Anti-inflammatory, vasodilatory, relaxant, digestive bitter, uterine stimulant. Feverfew has been used for centuries for treating migraine headaches. In recent years, it has regained its deserved reputation as a primary remedy for migraines. It is also reported that feverfew inhibits the release of two inflammatory substances thought to be the culprits of painful swollen joints, characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis. The anti-inflammatory effects of feverfew are cumulative. Don’t expect one cup of tea to banish arthritis or migraines forever. Herbs work slowly. If taken faithfully, you can expect good results within two weeks to a month and excellent results by the end of two months. Reports state that, when taken as directed, migraines can go into remission. Feverfew has been used for centuries with no ill effects. Also great for high blood pressure and summertime heat exhaustion.
GARLIC: Medicinal Properties: Antiseptic, anti-microbial, diaphoretic, cholagogue, hypotensive, anti- spasmodic, alterative, anthelmintic, anti-catarrhal, carminative, expectorant, pectoral, rubefacient, stimulant, tonic vulnerary. Scientifically documented, it is anti-microbial, antibacterial, anticarcinogenic, antifungal, anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral. The heart- protective effects of garlic have also been established. It has a lipid-lowering effect; it decreases total serum cholesterol, while increasing high-density lipoproteins (the good cholesterol). Studies show that garlic decreases systolic blood pressure and diastolic pressure.
GINGER ROOT: Medicinal Properties: Stimulant, pungent, carminative, sialagogue, condiment, and diaphoretic. Ginger root (chewed) stimulates the salivary glands, which is said to be useful in paralysis of the tongue. Prized since ancient times both for its flavor and for its medicinal properties. In China, the tea has long been prescribed for colds, coughs, flu and hangovers. The Chinese believe that the tea has the power to strengthen lungs and kidneys. Tibetans use ginger to stimulate the vital energies of one who is debilitated, lethargic, or convalescing from an illness. Modern medicine recognizes many of the spice’s time-honored virtues. It is a carminative and an aid in the digestion of fatty foods, as well as helpful in preventing motion sickness and vertigo.
PEPPERMINT: Medicinal Properties: Carminative, anti-spasmodic, aromatic, diaphoretic, anti-emetic, nervine, analgesic, anti-catarrhal, anti-microbial, emmenagogue, rubefacient, stimulant. Peppermint is one of the best carminative agents available. It has a relaxing effect on the visceral muscles and anti-flatulent properties. Peppermint contains menthol, volatile oils, menthone, methyl acetate, tannic acid, terpenes, and vitamin C. Because peppermint relaxes the esophageal spincter it can cause heartburn in some folks.
Asparagus: A super source of the antioxidant glutathione, to lower cancer risk.
Avocado: Benefits circulation, lowers cholesterol, dilates blood vessels. It’s main fat, monounsaturated oleic acid (also concentrated in olive oil), acts as an antioxidant to block artery-destroying toxicity of bad-type-LDL cholesterol. One of the richest sources of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant.
Beets: Richer than spinach in iron and other minerals. The greens are helpful in cases of anemia, tuberculosis, constipation, poor appetite, obesity, tumors, gout, and pimples and helpful in the elimination of irritating drug poisons. Useful post menses or post partum.
Bell Pepper: Rich in antioxidant vitamin C. Helps to fight off colds, asthma, bronchitis, respiratory infections, cataracts, macular degeneration, angina, atherosclerosis and cancer.
Blueberry. Acts as an unusual type of antibiotic by blocking attachment of bacteria that cause urinary tract infections. Contains chemicals that curb diarrhea. Also has anti-viral activity and high in natural aspirin.
Broccoli: A unique package of versatile disease-fighters. Abundant in antioxidants, including quercetin, glutathione, beta-carotene, indoles, vitamin C, lutein, glucarate, sulforaphane. Extremely high in cancer fighting activity, particularly against lung, colon and breast cancers. Like other cruciferous vegetables, it speeds up removal of estrogen from the body, helping suppress breast cancer. Rich in cholesterol-reducing fiber. Has anti-viral, anti-ulcer activity. A super source of chromium that helps regulate insulin and blood sugar. Note: cooking and processing destroys some of the antioxidants and anti-estrogenic agents, such as indoles and glutathione. Most protective when eaten raw or lightly cooked.
Brussels Sprouts: Cruciferous family possesses some of the same powers as broccoli and cabbage. Anti-cancer, estrogenic and packed with various antioxidants and indoles.
Cabbage (including bok choy): Revered in ancient Rome as a cancer cure. Contains numerous anti-cancer and antioxidant compounds. Speeds up estrogen metabolism, is thought to help block breast cancer and suppress growth of polyps, a prelude to colon cancer. Eating cabbage more than once a week cut men’s colon cancer odds 66 percent. As little as two daily tbsp. of cooked cabbage protected against stomach cancer. Contains anti-ulcer compounds; cabbage juice helps heal ulcers in humans. Has an anti-bacterial and anti-viral power. Can cause flatulence in some. Cooking destroys some of these important compounds. Raw cabbage, as in coleslaw, appears to have stronger overall health value.
Carrot: A super source of beta-carotene, a powerful anticancer, artery-protecting, immune-boosting, infection-fighting antioxidant with wide protective powers. High doses of beta-carotene, as found in carrots, substantially reduce odds of degenerative eye diseases (cataracts and macular degeneration as well as chest pain (angina). The high soluble fiber in carrots depresses blood cholesterol and promotes regularity. Cooking can make it easier for the body to absorb carrot’s beta-carotene.
Parsley: Anti-cancer because of its high concentrations of antioxidants, such as monoterpenes, phthalides, polyacetylenes. Can help detoxify carcinogens and neutralize certain carcinogens in tobacco smoke. Also, has diuretic activity. Also gives you fresh breath!