Herbs are beautiful, edible plants that emit enticing aromas. Plus, they are highly beneficial for adding delectable flavor to outstanding cuisine and are highly prized for their therapeutic value. For thousands and thousands of years, herbs have been central in wellness elixirs, tinctures, salves, oils, teas, and more.
What if I told you that you could grow your very own 100% natural sleep and anxiety aide in your garden? Lavender, a well respected culinary and landscaping herb, is also recognized as an insomnia remedy and a tension and stress buster. Its versatility makes it a must in any garden.
The beautiful thing about growing herbs in containers is that there is no green thumb required. In fact, growing herbs in containers is an amazing confidence booster for anyone. Whether you have a few containers on your balcony or in a sunny inside window, herbs will reward you with their lush growth and aromatic pleasures.
Being in my late 20s, it is hard to imagine going through something as frightening and traumatic as a cancer diagnosis. Unfortunately, I already know two girls my age who developed breast cancer — one is no longer with us. The uncertainty of cancer is unnerving, which has so many of us wonder how to actively prevent the ugly “c-word” from forming. Considering around one in eight American women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime, prevention is more important than ever.
This year alone, more than 266,100 new cases are expected to be diagnosed in the United States. If you are scared that you will one day be included in these stats, know that there are ways to actively reduce your risk.
What causes breast cancer?
Like so many aspects of human health, researchers are still not exactly sure why one woman develops breast cancer while another woman doesn’t. Although those diagnosed will most likely never be able to pinpoint an exact cause, one thing is certain — DNA damage is the culprit.
Once the DNA in a healthy cell becomes damaged, that cell can then mutate. Being a complex disease, there are both non-modifiable risk factors and modifiable risk factors.
- Non-modifiable: These factors are based on your genetics. There are two known genes that help protect us against breast and ovarian cancer, including BRCA1 and BRCA2. When these genes undergo a harmful mutation, damaged DNA does not repair as it should. These mutations can be inherited, increasing a woman’s average risk.
- Modifiable: These are based on environmental and lifestyle factors. For example, your diet, level of physical activity, exposure to chemicals, and the amount of alcohol you drink may all play a role. That is why you should actively address the variables you can change while being mindful of those you cannot.
These six ingredients have been shown to combat breast cancer cells
For centuries, plants and herbs have been used to combat a wide range of ailments, including cancer. Today, we’re aware that certain foods offer anti-tumor and immune-stimulating properties. This has led to a movement where the public is interested in possible herbal remedies over synthetic medicines.
The following six ingredients have been shown to actively protect against cancer, specifically breast cancer.
Ah, my favorite. I am known to eat raw garlic on the regular. This potent bulb has long been used to combat illness based on its complex metabolite profile. One key compound known as ajoene is believed to delay cancer production. There are also a number of compounds that yield antioxidant effects.
The available research has shown that garlic increases the number of suppressor T cells, converting lymphocytes into a form that is toxic to cancerous cells. Not only has garlic been shown to useful against breast cancer, but also colon, bladder, lung, and stomach cancer.
This aromatic plant is known to be an immune stimulant. When I used to get sick, my mom gave me an Echinacea tea — something that I still drink to this day. While studying mice, it has also been found that one of the three Echinacea species (Echinacea purpurea) may act as a potential anti-cancer therapy by increasing the number of natural killer cells.
This vibrant powder is no stranger to the health community. The active ingredient in this herb is curcumin, which is known to yield anticancer activity. Researchers have reported that the propagation of skin, stomach, breast, and lung cancer may be limited by turmeric.
Burdock root has therapeutic uses, offering potent herbal remedies. In the past, it was often used to help treat conditions such as measles and arthritis. However, it is now being explored based on its antitumor properties. When treating a breast tumor, ovary, bladder, and pancreatic cells, burdock may lessen the associated pain and tumor size.
Mainly grown in Japan, China, Russia, and Korea, the root of the ginseng plant is dried and then used for many therapeutic purposes, including cancer treatment. Ginseng has been shown to restart natural killer cells which are impaired during chemotherapy while enhancing the effect of macrophages and antibodies. Ginseng extract and its dried powder are believed to be the most beneficial.
6. Green tea
Offering the body polyphenolic compounds, green tea is high in EGCG. This polyphenol helps protect against DNA damage based on its antioxidant activity. In one review, it was stated that both in vivo (taking place in a living organism) and in vitro (taking place in a test tube or culture dish) studies have shown green tea’s anti-cancer effects.
The key to preventing breast or any other form of cancer is to practice a clean, active lifestyle. Although there are variables that are not within your control, there are ways to potentially intervene. That is why you should always change what you can and better manage what you can’t.
Actively care for your body today, and it will take care of you tomorrow (and beyond).
-The Backyard Vitality Team
Growing and crafting fine teas is an involved and time-honored tradition that can take many years to master. That said, if you love gardening — and drinking tea — growing and processing your own organic, herbicide- and pesticide-free specialty teas will be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. In case you think you’re limited to tea leaves, think again. The ultimate tea garden can even include teas made from roots, seeds, and fruit. In fact, there are so many options, you could create an entire garden devoted to the art of tea drinking. Here’s what you’ll need to know!
Growing herbs is a rewarding experience that can also be quite practical. Herbs have a long history of both culinary and medicinal use. Loading your garden up with a few powerhouse herbs like the ones below offers not only great beauty but also a treasure trove of therapeutic benefits.
During these uncertain times, fear and anxiety for the future are commonplace. If you’re struggling to relax and find that you can’t unwind, it may be time to plant a lovely, aromatic patch of chamomile in your herb garden to help ease your worries. Here’s why we love this useful herb and how you can grow some today.
Roman vs. German chamomile
There are two types of chamomile, so it is important to understand exactly what you are planting. German chamomile produces long, flimsy stems and tons of delicate white flowers that look very similar to daisies. This is the variety that is most frequently used for tea and tinctures since it produces an abundance of blooms. Roman chamomile is usually used as a fast-spreading groundcover to fill in holes in your garden and provide a nice, fragrant element.
Both varieties are technically annuals but will reseed and spread with vigor, allowing them to come back every year, so keep that in mind before you choose a planting spot. German chamomile will add a beautiful pop of white to any kitchen herb garden, and it is a great plant to have on hand. For the rest of this article, we will be referring to the German Chamomile variety as it is the best herb for various kitchen and beauty uses.
Why you should grow it
Chamomile isn’t just a fragrant, attractive addition to your herb garden. It can be used for a wide variety of tinctures and tonics that can help ease insomnia, reduce anxiety, and help even help reduce inflammation and menstrual pain.
During these stressful times, chamomile may be just the herb you need to help relieve some of that pent of fear and anxiety. Plus, if you are experiencing digestive issues due to excess stress or an altered diet, chamomile could help alleviate stomach discomfort, gas, and bloating.
If you have a little extra time on your hands due to lockdown or decreased work hours, why not consider making some DIY healthy and beauty products with this soothing herb. Chamomile is often included in many personal care products due to its anti-inflammatory, skin-soothing properties. Combine it with oatmeal for ultimate nourishment and exfoliation.
How to grow
Start seeds indoors under a grow light about six to eight weeks before your last expected frost date. This will give the seedlings time to grow and will help give them a good start for transplanting into your garden. Lightly tamp down the seeds into your growing medium and mist with water to avoid disturbing the seeds.
Once all danger of frost has passed, transplant seedlings to the garden, leaving a space of about eight to twelve inches between plants. Water thoroughly when planting, making sure that your soil is well-draining and has been amended with organic compost. Like many other herbs, chamomile thrives when left to its own devices. Water frequently until the seedlings put down roots and then only occasionally to let the roots dry out slightly between waterings. In just a few weeks, you should see your first blooms developing on the spindly, green stems.
Since chamomile is so hardy, it doesn’t require any fertilizer and will grow strong and tall with very minimal care. Plus, it doesn’t attract many pests or diseases, which makes it a wonderful “leave it and forget it” herb.
Once the flower petals begin to curl downward, cut off the flowers and lay them on a mesh surface to dry. Chamomile leaves tend to be bitter and unappealing, so once your cut off the flowers, trim the stalks to about six inches above the ground. Leave the spent stalks on the ground as they will decompose quickly and add essential nutrients back into the soil.
Though you can use fresh flowers for tea, drying this useful herb will let it last longer, and you won’t need as many flowers since the flavor will be more concentrated. Keep the flowers spread out for about a week in a cool, dry place and store in a glass jar or airtight bag for use in the kitchen.
One of the best ways to reap all of the amazing benefits of chamomile is to brew a nice, aromatic cup of relaxing tea. Measure out about two tablespoons of dried flowers for every eight-ounce cup of tea you wish to make. Boil water and pour it over the flowers, letting it steep for about five minutes. Then strain through a fine, tea sieve. Feel free to add any of your favorite herbs, such as mint, to mix up the flavor a little bit. You can also use local raw, honey, for sweetener, lemon for a bit of zing, or a little creamer for a wonderful nighttime drink.
If you’re like me, you eagerly await the arrival of spring so that you can escape the house and start gardening again. You probably work hard on your garden like I do – with one of the biggest chores, of course, being weeding. Until recently, I had a serious vendetta against weeds. But then I found out that by obsessively removing all the weeds from the garden, I was actually throwing away valuable produce!
If you love spicy things, you have to love peppery tasting horseradish ( Amoracia rusticana). This hardy clumping perennial herb dates back over 3000 years and is harvested for its roots that add a zip to a variety of dishes, including roast beef and cocktail sauce. The leaves of the plant are also edible when they are young, but take care not to allow animals to eat them as they are mildly toxic.
While indoor plants for decor are undoubtedly beautiful, there’s something to be said for plants that are pretty and functional. If you love to cook, want easy access to fragrant herbs for drying or tea making, or simply have an empty kitchen windowsill that you want to fill, consider planting an indoor herb garden. Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as you think, and if you follow these simple tricks, you’ll be able to enjoy fresh, free herbs all year long.
Most vegetables need plenty of sun to flourish. Corn, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, beans and peas are sun lovers, and you need to grow them in full sun for bumper crops. However, there are a number of vegetables that do better with a bit of shade, especially during the hotter parts of the day.