Healthy herbs to grow

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Here at Green Lifestyle we've had so much interest in our Guide to healing herbs that we wanted to let you know about even more wonderful varieties.


A daily dose of 30mg of Saffron (Crocus sativus, pictured) has been shown to help improve mood and reduce anxiety. It can be grown in the backyard or indoors in slightly moist soil under similar conditions to a Mediterranean climate.

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The properties of herbs and spices extend beyond their culinary purposes. Here we explore how some may benefit a range of common health ailments, straight from your backyard.

Grow them, pick them and use these herbs and spices wherever possible… Whether in cooking, baking or tea infusions, they serve as handy health remedies that taste good too.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis):
Not just a flavour enhancer for your roast, rosemary boasts potent antioxidant properties. Antioxidants decrease cellular damage by free radicals, which we are bombarded with today due to ever-present environmental toxins such as pollution and pesticides. And if you are prone to allergies, another compound that rosemary offers is anti-allergenic rosmarinic acid - handy for those allergies that pop up with the change of season.
Harvest season: summer and autumn.
Growing conditions: hot, dry, well-drained soil.

Perilla (Perilla frutescens):
Thanks to its rosmarinic acid content, perilla may help make a case of rhinoconjunctivitis less of a nuisance. This is because it can dampen overactive immune and inflammatory reactions, in turn decreasing rhinoconjunctivitis symptoms, such as an itchy nose and itchy, watery eyes. In a study of individuals with rhinoconjunctivitis, 50mg of rosmarinic acid was associated with symptom alleviation in just over half of patients; a higher 200mg dose led to symptom relief in 70 per cent.
Harvest season: spring.
Growing conditions: well-drained soil; plant seeds 20-25cm apart.

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum):
Used for thousands of years by Asian and Mediterranean cultures, this herb may be beneficial for supporting healthy blood glucose levels. Following a carbohydrate-heavy meal, such as pasta or a burger and chips, fenugreek has been shown to slow carbohydrate absorption and increase secretion of insulin (which transports blood glucose to cells for energy storage) from the pancreas. Fresh or dry fenugreek leaves are commonly used in Indian-style dishes; the aromatic seeds, either roasted or ground, add depth to curries and also work well as a herbal tea infusion.
Harvest season: all year round.
Growing conditions: warm with well-drained soil.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa):
The potential anti-inflammatory health properties of this yellow-hued herb lie in its root, traditionally used in Ayurverdic medicine. Studies have shown that curcumin, turmeric’s active plant compound, may help with the pain of arthritis. A high quality study has also confirmed curcumin to be a safe and beneficial herb for the inflammatory bowel disease ulcerative colitis (UC) during remission. The six-month study consisted of 89 UC patients in remission, equally divided to receive curcumin supplementation or a placebo. While about 20 per cent of the placebo group had a relapse over the course of the study, there were only relapses in 4.65 per cent of the curcumin group.
Fresh or dried turmeric leaves make a tea with a kick, and it's delicious mixed with some fresh ginger, lemon and honey.
Harvest season: summer.
Growing conditions: hot with moist soil.

Gymnema (Gynema sylvestre):
Also known as the ‘miracle fruit', gymnema was traditionally used in ancient Indian Ayurvedic medicine for aiding healthy glucose metabolism. Now, research is confirming the value of this herb for blood glucose maintenance. Gymnema can help decrease glucose absorption, stimulate insulin secretion from the pancreas and increase the surface area for, and number of, insulin-secreting cells in the pancreas. Next time you are craving something sweet, try some freshly brewed gymnema tea with cinnamon.
Harvest season: spring and winter.
Growing conditions: well-drained soil; best in a tropical climate with plenty of shade.

Saffron (Crocus sativus):
This red-hued, almost sweet spice has historically been used as a herbal remedy for healthy mood support in traditional Persian medicine. In clinical trials, a daily dose of 30mg has shown to improve mood and reduce anxiety. This effect is achieved through several mechanisms, such as improving communication between brain cells by increasing the availability of mood-regulating neurotransmitters in the brain (serotonin, dopamine and noradrenalin), as well as assisting the action of the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter serotonin. Before cooking with saffron, crush the stigmas and soak them in water.
Harvest season: autumn.
Growing conditions: slightly moist soil; best in a Mediterranean climate, making Victoria, South Australia and some parts of NSW (not Sydney) suitable.

Stephanie Berglin (DBM, DipNut, BA Comms) is a naturopath, nutritionist and iridologist with 12 years of clinical experience. Completing her studies at Sydney's renowned Natural Care College, Stephanie went on to found her own successful practice before taking on her current role as Technical Advisor at BioCeuticals. For more health articles about the benefits of certain herbs, check out www.bioceuticals.com.au/education/articles. Please note that it's important to speak to your healthcare practitioner when considering supplementation.