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.
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
Gardening and health are intrinsically linked. You grow your own fruits and vegetables, so you begin to eat more whole, fresh food. You have to harvest, plant, and tend your garden, so you get more physical activity and daily doses of fresh air and sunshine. However, unless you wear gloves all the time, you probably also experience the dry, cracking hands that come from spending hours digging in the dirt. Thankfully, all the herbs needed to create this soothing hand salve, and make dried out hands a thing of the past, can be grown right in your garden.
Container gardening is one of the easiest methods for growing herbs. Not only can you move the pots around to catch sunlight or give them a bit of shade, but you also have easy access to all your kitchen herbs right outside your backdoor. If you are in the middle of preparing dinner and realize that that spaghetti sauce needs a hint of fresh basil, you can simply step outside and cut a few leaves.
Why plant herbs in containers
- Containers contain aggressive herbs
Container gardening helps keep aggressive herbs such as most mint varieties from spreading and taking over your entire garden. Eventually, the herbs can become invasive and be more of a hassle than a blessing.
- Containers allow for moisture and soil control
Herbs can occasionally be finicky and require varying levels of moisture and soil fertilization. To ensure that you keep your plants healthy and watered properly, it is a good idea to utilize the power of container gardening.
- Containers can be brought indoors
It can be hard to let your perennial herbs die out every winter when you still want to harvest their flavorful leaves. If you have space, simply bring your pots indoors when the weather begins to cool and you can keep your herbs for years to come. Plus, you will have even better access for beauty and culinary uses.
Containers make great patio decorations
If you have an outdoor living space such as a patio, balcony, or porch, it can be hard to figure out how to infuse it with life and make it welcoming. Potted herbs can do just that! You can choose colorful pots that match your patio furniture or simply enjoy the natural green beauty of your fragrant plants
Best herbs for containers
With all that being said, it is important to remember that not every herb will thrive in a container environment. Many need more space or drain soil nutrients too quickly to be contained to a pot.
Here are 5 of the best herbs for container gardening.
Perhaps one of the most versatile and useful herbs in the kitchen, fresh basil adds delicious flavor to any savory dish. Be sure that your basil plant gets plenty of sunlight and is in a container with adequate drainage. Once your plant has reached maturity, it is best to frequently harvest the leaves, as basil does well when trimmed back often. Be sure to pinch off any flower buds before they can develop since they tend to reduce flavor and quality.
Mints are many gardeners top choice for container gardening as they tend to take over whatever space they are planted in. Containers are also useful for those wishing to keep mint varieties separate and prevent cross-pollination. Mints do well when harvested frequently. Use mints in teas, baked goods, or even dinner dishes.
This beautiful, fragrant herb makes an excellent addition to any windowsill or backyard patio. Keep the soil wet, but be sure not to overwater.
Another fantastic culinary herb, thyme is a great choice for those just starting out with gardening, or gardeners plagued with a black thumb, since it is fairly resistant to drought and neglect. This herb looks beautiful in any pot and will thrive under full sun.
Another prolific herb, oregano often does a little too well in the garden and can quickly spread and take over. Growing it in a pot can help control this enthusiastic growth, and provide you with flavorful oregano all year round.
Tips for herb container gardening
- Choose the right pot
Drainage is the key concern when picking out the pot for your herb. Most herbs don’t do well in standing water and could begin to rot or mold.
- Harvest frequently
As mentioned earlier, it is important that you harvest your herbs frequently. Letting growth get out of control can create bitter, flavorless herbs.
- Use quality potting soil
Because your herbs are in containers, it is important that you don’t skimp on the soil. Fill your pots with a mixture of quality potting soil and aged compost for optimal results.
Have you ever planted herbs in containers? Let us know which plants worked best for you in the comments below.
– Taylor Ramsey
Your belly button, which seems to do little more than collect fluff, was once the spot of a vital connection between you and your mother, the place where your umbilical cord once was. This tube-like structure connected to the placenta carries nutrients and oxygen from the placenta to the baby while exporting waste materials out. Once you entered the world, this cord was cut, leaving behind a scar – AKA, your belly button.
Nearly half of all Americans have high blood pressure (also called hypertension), a preventable condition that is the number one risk factor for heart disease. Sadly, millions of people with this condition go undiagnosed. The good news is, numerous lifestyle changes can help prevent, manage, and even eliminate high blood pressure. Additionally, nature has provided relief for this condition as well. Let’s take a closer look at some easy-to-grow herbs that can be used to regulate blood pressure.
Summer is fast approaching, and with warmer weather comes excellent things like a beautiful yard and garden and lots of fun times with family and friends under the sun and stars. Unfortunately, it also brings out the bugs, including flies, mosquitoes, and other nagging insect pests that wreak havoc on our warm-weather festivities.
Fresh sweet basil is floral, pungent, and readily available in the U.S. You’re probably well aware of the flavor it contributes to dishes, like pasta and salads. But what you may not be aware of are the powerful healing compounds associated with the essential oil. In fact, sweet basil oil can help the digestive, immune and nervous systems. If you haven’t tried it yet, here are some natural fixes that can really boost your health.=
Sweet basil’s essentials
Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum), is a plant with thick foliage and small white flowers. Fresh basil projects a fresh and floral aroma, while the dried basil has a spicy and earthy scent. Like most herbs, sweet basil is loaded with health benefits. In fact, it’s a rich source of vitamin K, beta carotene, and iron. In addition, this herb has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.
But the majority of basil’s benefits are attributed to its volatile oil and flavonoids. The preferred method for obtaining the oil is through steam distilling the flowers or the whole basil plant. These powerful, plant-based antioxidants reduce inflammation and help fight aging. Whether you take it internally or use it topically, here are some basil oil benefits you may want to consider.
1. Antibacterial and antifungal
Basil oil has antimicrobial activity that fights a wide range of foodborne bacteria, yeasts, and even mold. A study published in Food Microbiology found that basil oil can stop the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Researchers looking for natural, toxin-free food preservatives, discovered that washing produce in a basil oil solution decreased shigella.
Shigella, a bacterium closely related to salmonella, produces abdominal pain, tenesmus, watery diarrhea, and dysentery. Other symptoms may include abdominal tenderness, fever, vomiting, dehydration, and convulsions. Interestingly, a solution made from one percent basil oil decreased contamination below levels at which it could be detected. Scientists suggest including basil in your salad to provide similar safeguards.
In another earlier study from Australia, researchers looked at the effects of basil oil against bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and molds. All five essential oils of basil showed antimicrobial activity against most of the organisms. That means you can use a solution of basil oil to remove bacteria and prevent contamination from kitchens and bathrooms. Simply combine basil oil with water in a spray bottle and wipe down surfaces.
2. Indigestion and cramping
Basil oil can help increase urine production, which in turn, can reduce water retention, uncomfortable bloating, and digestive issues. It’s also an effective antispasmodic and can reduce food and illness-associated cramping. Add one to two drops of sweet basil oil to warm water or tea. You can also inhale it or massage it directly into painful areas, such as the abdomen and lower back.
3. Constipation relief
Sweet basil oil can also provide natural constipation relief. Add one to two drops of sweet basil oil to warm water or tea. You’ll be feeling better in no time.
4. Flatulence and upset stomach
Basil essential oil is also useful as a digestive tonic. Since basil oil has carminative properties, it prevents or relieves flatulence. In fact, it can provide immediate relief from gas. It also has colic qualities and is therefore used to alleviate bowel pain. Alternately, sweet basil oil can expel gas from the stomach and intestine, helping calm an upset stomach, suggests the University of Michigan Health System.
5. Prevents infections
Due to basil’s antibacterial properties, it may also treat several infections, including cuts, wounds and bladder infections. It’s also great for avoiding viral infections that attack and enter the body through other wounds.
6. Pain relief
Often used for arthritic pain, wounds, sprains, and headaches, basil oil is an analgesic and provides effective relief from pain. According to a study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, basil oil was found to reduce hyperalgesia in mice. Research suggests that sweet basil oil may also be a natural alternative for treating chronic painful conditions, such as fibromyalgia.
Basil’s powerful essential oils contain eugenol, citronellol, and linalool. These enzyme-inhibiting oils help lower inflammation — the root cause of most diseases. In a 2007 study, researchers found that sweet basil oil significantly reduced an induced inflammation response in rats. Researchers found that sweet basil showed important anti-inflammatory effects.
8. Insect repellent
Similar to citronella and thyme oil, the volatile oils found in basil make a good, natural mosquito repellent to prevent bug bites. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association investigated sweet basil oil as an irritant and repellent against mosquitoes. Pure essential oil was used in combination with absolute ethanol. Researchers found that sweet basil oil is a moderate mosquito irritant and repellent. However, they found that another variety of basil, hairy basil, was a much more effective mosquito repellent.
Make your own homemade bug lotion by diluting several drops of basil essential oil in a carrier oil. Massage into the skin as needed.
9. Anxiety relief
A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology reported that basil oil relaxed mice experiencing stress. The study found that the protective properties of basil (particularly holy basil) on the brain tissue protected mice against the detrimental effect of noise stress.
10. Cold and flu Relief
If you feel a cold or flu coming on, basil oil may help diminish symptoms. This essential oil helps detoxify the body of bacteria and viruses. It also fights inflammation, pain, and fatigue. Simply add one to two drops to a steam bath. Alternately, make your own homemade vapor rub with eucalyptus oil and basil oil. Rub it into your chest to open nasal passages.
11. Air freshener
Sweet basil oil is ideal for eliminating odor-causing bacteria and mold in your home, car, and furniture. Combine basil oil with baking soda to remove stains and bacteria from pots or pans. You can even spray it inside your toilet, shower, and garbage cans.
Now that you know everything sweet basil can do, are you ready to give it a try? Here are all the ways that you can get it into your system.
Inhale the oil directly from the bottle or rub several drops into your palms. Hold your hands over, but not touching, your face to inhale.
Always dilute basil oil with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or almond oil. Use a 1:1 ratio before applying to the skin. Because it is potent, it’s best to start slowly. Basil oil may cause reactions in people with sensitive skin. Test before applying to the skin and avoid the face, neck, and chest prior to testing.
The FDA recognizes pure basil oil as safe for consumption, but only when using 100 percent therapeutic-grade, high-quality oil. Look for Ocimum basilicum and add a drop in water. Or, take it as a dietary supplement by mixing it with raw honey.
You won’t have any trouble finding sweet basil oil because it’s produced in the U.S. and harvested from February to September. So the next time you have a cold, or simply want to freshen your home naturally, give it a try. Your nose will thank you.
– The Backyard Vitality Team
Are you busy at work, busy with kids, busy with school, and just plain busy all the time? If so, you are not alone. Millions of Americans suffer from over-business, which leads to…you got it. Stress. There is nothing fun about being busy and feeling stressed about being busy. Quite simply, this is a recipe for disaster. Although it is important to slow down, on those days when you just can’t seem to catch a break, two easy-to-grow plants come to the rescue.
Periods are no fun, hands down. No woman is going to argue this point. The lead-up to the period can be even worse for some. Breast tenderness, moodiness, bloating, headaches, and other symptoms can last for a week or more before your actual period begins.