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These herbs are all easy to grow and by having them growing in your garden you can have them at hand all year round.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is an aromatic and intensely-flavored herb that has long needle-like evergreen leaves and belongs to the mint family. All varieties of rosemary as effective medicinally and for culinary purposes, and because they are evergreen, their leaves can be picked all year round.
Research found that rosemary extract had a protective effect on human blood exposed to radiation, and showed strong antimutagenic effects, which is associated with preventing certain cancers. Furthermore, carnosic acid, the main polyphenol antioxidant in rosemary, combined with vitamin D, was found to reduce human leukemia cancer cell spread.
Rosemary is commonly available as an established shrub from most garden centers, and its attractive foliage, invigorating scent and range of health-enhancing properties makes it an essential herb to have in the garden.
Sage (Salvia) has velvety, textured leaves, ranging in color and size, and the best medicinal and culinary sages are the ones that have officinalis or lavandulifolia in their name.
Like rosemary, its sister herb in the mint family, sage contains a variety of volatile oils, flavonoids, and phenolic acids, including the phenolic acid named after rosemary - rosmarinic acid. The rosmarinic acid in sage and rosemary also functions as an antioxidant, and reduces inflammatory responses in the body.
Sage is also anti-bacterial and anti-mucosal so it is useful for fighting colds, and clearing catarrh as well as fighting off germs. Its antiseptic properties make it excellent for healing gum problems and sore throats when drunk as a tea or used as a gargle.
Sage plants grow very slowly so the quickest and most reliable way to grow sage is to buy it as a small plant from a garden centre and plant it straight outside.
Sage is a popular herb with a warm, spicy, slightly tangy flavor that can be used to flavor many dishes, and it is an attractive plant to have growing in the garden;
Mint (Mentha) consists of many different species; the most widely grown and used are spearmint, peppermint, orange or bergamot mint and pineapple mint. This herb has many varied culinary and medicinal uses.
Studies found that the phenolic phytochemicals in fresh mint had very strong scavenging activity, and its high salicylic acid content is thought to play a role in the prevention of colorectal and lung cancer, and atherosclerosis.
Menthol, a major component of mint was found to activate a nerve ending that responsed to cold and to menthol, which is thought to explain its cooling sensation and its common use as an inhalant to reduce decongestion in the nose.
Peppermint tea is a really effective aid for digestion and other intestinal ailments, and it also has mild antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Peppermint teabags are now widely available to buy, but it's so easy to grow your own.
Mint plants very invasive and can spread around the garden quickly. To restrict its growth, grow it in a pot sunk in the ground (this will stop its roots from spreading), or grow it in containers.
Lemon-grass (Cymbopogon schoenanthus) is a tropical plant so it grows well in hot climates, or in a heated greenhouse. This herb has long grass-like fragrant leaves and has a citrus flavor, commonly used to flavor teas, soups and curries.
The scholar Ibn al-Qayyim in his work on Prophetic Medicine mentioned the following benefits of lemon-grass:
"Idhkhir (lemon-grass) is hot in the second degree and dry in the first; gentle, opening obstructions and the 'mouths' of veins; diuretic, emmenagogue; it breaks up stones, dissolves hard inflammations in the stomach, liver and kidneys, when drunk and used as a poultice. Its root strengthens the bases of the teeth and the stomach; it quietens nausea and restrains the belly."
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