by Dr. Kristen Bovee, Peninsula Naturopathic Clinic & Hydrate IV Wellness Centre –
With summer upon us, it is a time for fresh fruits and vegetables available locally. We can also, with a little space and intention, grow many things that will add to our daily health and culinary delight. The following are three of my favorite “mint” or Lamiaciae family botanical medicines that you can grow in a pot or garden and enjoy throughout the season. Not only do these herbs grow well, they also smell wonderful and have many garden management qualities (ie. bug repellants) that help your garden grow beautifully.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). Lavender can be planted almost anytime of year and enjoyed throughout the seasons. For the summer, lavender has many wonderful benefits including a sweet pleasant fragrance that lends to relaxation and calming of the nervous system. It also has the amazing property of repelling pesky insects like mosquitoes and flies. Simply hang a few bouquets indoors to keep the flies out. As a medicinal plant, lavender has great antiseptic quality. Travelling with lavender essential oil will not only aid in sleep but it will topically speed the healing of cuts and wounds while preventing infections. It also helps with hair loss! It improves the health of hair follicle beds. Simply make a tea from the flowers and use as a rinse on the scalp. Lavender also has a lovely flavour. It can be made into a tea as an infusion and used cold in the summer as a refreshing drink (see recipe below).
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis). This is an easy to grow mint herb that helps attract bees to your garden. It has powerful antiviral properties and helps with anxiety and hyper activity. It can help with digestion (bloating and gas) and aids in liver and detoxification by supporting glutathione production. It has quercetin that helps reduce hayfever and allergies. Lemon balm (as it indicates in its name) has a very lemony flavour; it can be used easily in place of lemon peels in recipes to flavour soups, sauces, vinegars and seafood. Add a few fresh leaves to a salad, mix with fruit, or use in a vinaigrette for salads. Yum!
Catnip (Nepeta cataria). Not only does your cat enjoy the effects of this plant, but people also can experience positive benefits when this mint is consumed. Some of the main health benefits of catnip include stress relief, improved sleep and an enhanced immune system and it is an anti-inflammatory. It has been used as a treatment for menstrual mood swings, migraine headaches and arthritic pains. It is an easy herb to grow and helps keep bugs away from the garden. It can be also applied topically as a salve to irritated skin to reduce inflammation quickly.
It is always important for us to make an effort to nurture ourselves. These three easily-grown herbs are a wonderful addition to a home garden and will give you some health giving benefits while tasting and smelling amazing.
Easy Mint Tea Recipe:
• 4 heaping tbsp organic lavender buds, lemon balm, or cat nip
• ¼ cup of honey
• juice of 3 lemons
Boil 7 cups of water and pour over the lavender buds. Let steep for 10 minutes and strain. Add honey and let cool to room temperature. Add lemon juice, stir and serve over ice. Enjoy!