For centuries the Chinese have lived long, healthy lives due to their knowledge and reliance on herbs and natural remedies versus narcotic or chemical medications. The body knows and the earth knows how to be in balance for optimal health and wellness. During the past half century or so, Chinese herbal supplements have become very popular in the west, particularly among the more affluent who can afford the high cost of buying the herbs from genuine Chinese herbalists. The cost can be exhorbitant, but that cost can also be defrayed by selecting the right herbs and growing them at home. Not only will you save hundreds of dollars, but the freshness and quality of the herbs will not be compromised by processing and packaging. And equally as important, you will not be getting any of the toxic pesticides that may accompany commercially grown herbs.
Before we start looking at some particularly easy grow-at-home rememdies that can save you a fortune, remember not all Chinese herbal remedies need to have difficult names or be so foreign you’re left scartching your head. Yes, Huawfen Yuxiao (used to balance sugar) can be a tough one to figure out, but nearly everyone has heard of a Chrysanthemum. It’s a flower that you can grow at home. This flower, steeped into a tea, is used to cleanse the liver, neutralize toxins in your system, balance blood surgar, and lower cholesterol levels. Dandelion root is another example. This weed, as we commonly think of it, can have a beneficial affect on hepatitis, jaundice, gall stones, and liver bile-flow problems. If we had called it Herba teraxaci, its botanical name, you would not have recognized it as pure old dandelion root.
When you decide it’s time to grow your own herbs, there are many things to consider. Are you going to be planting an outdoor herb garden? How about an indoor garden? What herbs will be of most benefit to you and your family? If you are going to be planting from seed, whether indoors or out of doors, the first things you want to consider are: (a) what are the benefits of this herb; and, (b) what are the instructions on the back of the seed pack? You’re obviously not interested in growing something that won’t be used by you in the quantities in which you plan to grow it, and you want to make sure you are in a position to grow that seed. If you live in far north Minnesota, you don’t want to try and grow a seed outdoors that requires tropical temperatures year round. Unless, of course, you have a greenhouse with temperature and humidity controls. Then it won’t be outdoors anymore.
So now, we’re ready to plant our first herb. Let’s go with something that sounds mysterious. Gotu Kola. This herb has been used in India for centuries for its rejuvenating properties. It’s grown in a tropical clime so you will most likely want to do this indoors, depending on where you live. It’s a small, creeping plant and users claim a few leaves used daily liquified in a juice, or chopped up and added to a salad, will revitalize your brain cells and slow the process of aging. Alas, the fountain of youth! If you have a room in your house, say a spare bathroom not otherwise in use, with sufficient lighting, a heater to keep the temperature up, and water, you have the perfect place to grow your own Gotu Kola.
When you get serious about your herbs and natural rememdies, search the internet for how-to articles on what to grow, how to grow, and how to use. Get a book on Chinese herbs and read up on which ones will be most beneficial to you and your family. Start small. Select just a couple of herbs to try growing and see how much you use them, how well you tend your garden, and what kind of herb farmer you make. Pretty soon you’ll find yourself growing your own fresh herbs for cooking (rosemary, parsley, cilantro) and for medicinal purposes (white willow bark from which aspirin was originally made).
So you see, the benefits of growing your own Chinese herbs far outweigh any claims to the contrary. And soon you’ll realize that being an herb farmer isn’t all Greek … er Chinese to you anymore.