Growing your own Herbs for Wellness
Newly launched, ‘Gardening with Edibles' is an initiative by The Ministry of National Development of Singapore to encourage us to grow our own fresh veggies. Each household is given free seed packets to enable us to grow edible plants at home. The goal is to produce 30% of Singapore’s nutritional needs locally by the year 2030, while promoting sustainable development, and combat climate change.
Why not add some healing herbs to your edible garden? Not only are they extremely easy to grow and maintain, they also provide you and your family with many health benefits.
Rosemary is a fragrant evergreen herb that adapts well in our local climate, as it needs plenty of sunlight, and well-draining, lightweight (sandy) soil.
Rosemary is edible, and is often used in Mediterranean cuisine, both fresh and dried, to season meats such as lamb. The leaves can also be infused in hot water to drink as a tea.
A good source of iron, calcium and vitamins A, C, and B6, rosemary has been used for its medicinal purposes for centuries. It is a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which help boost the immune system and improve blood circulation. The aroma of rosemary has been linked to improving mood, and stress relief, in those with chronic anxiety or stress hormone imbalances.
Aloe Vera is one of the most popular medicinal plants, with more than 500 species that originate from the Arabian Peninsula. It readily grows in tropical, semi-tropical, and arid climates around the world. As it is easily adaptable to many climates, it is the most cultivated medicinal plant worldwide.
Aloe has a wide range of uses - from cooling beverages, desserts to lotions and skin care. It contains important vitamins and minerals such as vitamins B, C, E, and folic acid, and is one of the only plant sources of vitamin B-12. It helps soothe and heal burns, improves hydration, promotes liver detoxification, relieves digestive ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome and helps clear acne.
Also known as Tiger Grass or Indian Pennywort, Brahmi, or ‘Greatest of the Great’ in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, or ‘miracle elixir of life’ in TCM. Gotu Kola has been used by traditional medicine practices for centuries. It is native to India, Japan, China, Indonesia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and the South Pacific. A member of the parsley family, it has no taste or smell. It prefers moist grounds without strong, direct sunlight and is tolerant to most soil types, including clay, sand and loam.
It is well known for its medicinal properties, and has been included in the Indian Pharmacopoeia list as early as the 19th century. Over the centuries, it has also used in epilepsy, hysteria, leprosy, and in minor itching and insect bites and now, it is internationally acknowledged in the treatment of small and hypertrophic wounds as well as burns, psoriasis and scleroderma. It is used mainly for its leaves that can be blended and squeezed to make a nutritious green drink while its dried leaves can be brewed as a tea and can help digestion.It decreases inflammation, blood pressure, enhances memory, relieves anxiety and also possesses antibacterial , antiviral and anti-cancer properties.
Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum)
A member of the basil family (Ocimum), Tulsi, or Holy/Sacred Basil, is an aromatic perennial that is widely used in traditional Hindu medicine. Either whole plant, seeds, or dried leaves may be used.
Rama Tulsi has green leaves, while Krishna Tulsi has purple ones. In Thailand, Tulsi is called Kaphrao, and is used in local dishes for its aroma and flavour.
Growing Tulsi in Singapore is easy since the plants need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight, and constant moisture. Sprinkling a layer of clay pellets (LECA) at the bottom, and using a slightly acidic friable fertile soil helps retain moisture, and drains quickly.
Tulsi protects organs and tissues against chemical stress from industrial toxins and heavy metals. It also protects against physical, metabolic and psychological stress, making it useful for periods of intense physical activity, poor memory and cognitive function, and balancing blood glucose and lipids, and regulating blood pressure.
The extract from Tulsi is also used in hand sanitizers and mouthwash, due to its antimicrobial activity.
The benefits of growing your own herb garden are truly abundant. From promoting greenery, to improving your physical and mental health, to the relaxing effect of gardening. You will harvest these benefits from the seeds you plant today!
About Eugene He
Eugene is the founder of Invity, a clinical naturopath and a nutraceutical formulator. He has spent the past twenty years educating and writing about nutrition, phytotherapy and general wellness. His work has been featured in Forbes, Yahoo, Tatler, CEW, Allure and many other publications around the world.