Some simply view gardens as a beautiful compliment to a person’s home or a city centre. However, gardens – and the act of gardening – can also heal people. Whether your hands are in the soil, or you rely on straight-from-the-dirt plants to sooth what ails you, embracing what comes out of the ground can have a huge impact on your life.
On the premiere episode of “Ageless Gardens” a renowned writer attributes her health and longevity to gardening, while a medicine woman finds remedies in ‘nature’s pharmacy.’ Additionally, a sculptor who has gardened for over 70 years gains inspiration, and a controversial healing plant, in cookie form, is used as a natural sleeping pill.
To get you set for the Healing Plants chapter of Ageless Gardens, Charlie Dobbin, host of ZoomerRadio’s Garden Show (Saturdays at 9am ET/6am PT), discusses how and why gardening is good for our health.
Q: Many speak about how gardening helps them feel better physically, mentally and spiritually. Why do you think gardening has this impact on people?
Charlie: “Several recent studies have shown definitively that gardens are more than just our ‘happy places.’ Anecdotally, we know we feel better after spending time outdoors – turns out there is science behind this good feeling. From Forest Bathing to Ecotherapy, nature-based programs and exercises can help patients cope with mental and physical illnesses.
“Also, dirt actually does make us happy! Antidepressant microbes in soil cause cytokine levels to rise, which results in the production of higher levels of serotonin. Gardeners inhale the bacteria, have topical contact with it, and get it into their bloodstreams when there is a cut or other pathway for infection. So getting out and playing in the dirt can improve your mood and your life!”
Q: Factions of people garden to grow health remedies for themselves and others. Which plant-based remedies would you most recommend for those aged 50+?
Charlie: “The only health remedy I grow for myself is garlic. It is easy to grow and harvest. No maintenance, really, at all. And nothing scares a cold away faster than a hot cup of chicken soup with fresh garlic!
“However, I am a big fan of the following plant based remedies: lavender oil is wonderful to help you sleep deeply, lessen anxiety, and is amazing for your skin. I love many of the herbal teas for different reasons – chamomile to calm, peppermint for headaches, ginger for a sore stomach, and slippery elm bark for a sore throat. Of course, I grow lots of herbs like basil, coriander, parsley and rosemary to use in cooking.”
Q: It is no secret that marijuana can relieve pain and assist people when it comes to sleeping. Now that medical marijuana is a rising industry, do you think the stigma around that plant, and the people who use it, has changed?
Charlie: “Yes, definitely. Suddenly marijuana has lost a lot of the stigma that was attached to it. Remember Reefer Madness? I teach Horticulture at Durham College and this past fall more than half the first year students were enrolled to learn more about the cultivation of Cannabis.”
For more with Charlie, you can listen to her latest episode of “The Garden Show,” right here!