Your Garden is a Medicine Cabinet

Last week, once the rain subsided in my hometown of Airlie Beach, I pulled weeds and created a fresh garden bed for planting. Growing our own vegetables and herbs has always been a passion of my parents, and the benefits are amazing. In today’s age where mass production, genetic modification, pesticide use and high yields in nutrient poor soil has become such common farming practice, it is fair to worry about what chemicals and dangers may be hidden in our food.

Many people are now buying organic, especially after documentaries such as “Food Matters” and “Forks Over Knives” became available to watch on If you have not had a chance to watch them, I highly recommend it.

It would be a wonderful thing for our health if we started to grow our own herbs and vegetables. Even if you live in an apartment with a small balcony, it is amazing what a few shelves and plant boxes can produce.

Here are my five favourite things to grow and their health benefits:

Turmeric (Haldi) – the active constituent ‘Cumerone’ within turmeric has been extensively studied for it’s anti-inflammatory properties. In our clinics we use the liquid extract of Turmeric for joint pain, high blood pressure, heartburn and fatty liver disease. The American Cancer Society has reported that medicinal extracts of turmeric may have the ability to interfere with several important molecular pathways involved in cancer development, growth and spread. Turmeric is a beautiful plant which can even be grown in a big pot. Look after the green, fleshy leaves for about eight months, once the leaves turn yellow, it is time to harvest. Fresh turmeric is lovely when grated in to a curry, as well as fresh in a salad or a fresh juice. Powdered turmeric is readily available and is almost always found in an Asian or Indian pantry.

Bitter Melon (Karela) – A wonderful vegetable, best eaten raw as a salad with onion, fresh chilli, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. If there is a bare fence in your backyard, bitter melon will happily climb the fence or anything else it can find. Bitter melon has been scientifically proven to assist in the balance of blood sugar levels and detoxify the liver. This makes it an excellent vegetable for diabetics or those with fatty liver disease.

Garlic – Rich in vitamin C and B6, garlic is often used as a base ingredient in many curries, but its true medicinal use comes from using it in its raw form. Both the garlic bulb and its leaves have incredible antimicrobial properties. Raw garlic bulbs can be pickled in vinegar and are a great accompaniment to your dinner meal. Another wonderful way of consuming raw garlic is to blend mint, coriander, raw garlic, chilli and a pinch of salt in the food processor which leaves you with a fresh green raw chutney which has the power to potentially kill colds, flus and sore throats. A great tip to remember in the coming winter months. Growing garlic can be done in a pot or in the ground. Simply separate a bulb and plant, this will allow you to enjoy the fast growing garlic leaves in your omelettes or a garnish on top of food.

Parsley – Parsley contains one of the highest amounts of Vitamin B9, also called folic acid. This is an important vitamin for memory, energy, nerve development and mental clarity. Simply throw parsley seeds on a bed of soil and it will grow very easily. A Middle Eastern salad, namely ‘Tabouleh’ is made from finely chopped flat leaf parsley, tomato, lemon juice, salt and couscous or quinoa. Parsley is also great in salads or as a garnish.

Brahmi (Bacopa) – a perennial creeping herb, Brahmi is native to India but is widely used in herbal medicine from its ability to improve memory and mental clarity. Studies have shown amazing results in patients suffering from dementia and alzheimers. I use this herb as a liquid extract in my clinics and have heard great results from my patients. As a low creeper, it grows well in a pot and elegantly drapes its way down the sides of the pot making it both decorative and useful. Simply break shoots from the plant and add to salads for a bitter addition.

I highly encourage you to spend some time in the garden this weekend. Growing your own food is both rewarding and beneficial for your health. A few hours of effort in planting and watering can bring you great benefits.

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