AN herb garden is the perfect way to bring a bit of nature into maintaining good health, no green thumb required! And growing own herbs is much more convenient—and affordable—than buying them at the local markets.
Regardless of where one lives, space or time should be no excuse for not growing herbs that can come useful to provide fresh and delicious food, treat or prevent common ailments, thus supporting wellness.
Having an herb or vegetable garden with the indigenous plants, national chairperson of the Association of Lady Pharmacists (ALPs), Mrs Zainab Shariff, said is something that individuals could adopt for their nutritional, economic and health benefits.
Already, ALPs is promoting cultivation of vegetables and other plants that have nutritional, economic and health benefits. For instance, in Delta State, a garden has been identified where the association has cultivated medicinal plants, which they are using in training women.
Shariff listed vegetables and other medicinal plants that can be cultivated in home gardens to include moringa, fluted pumpkin leaves (Ugwu), Okazi (wild spinach or Afang leaves), Oha, sweet basil (Efinrin) ginger, and zobo (Roselle or Sorrel).
Locally, okazi is used as a remedy for sore throat, nausea, reducing pain during childbirth or as a dressing for warts. Okazi is also a rich source of protein and has an anti-inflammatory, anti- cancer and antioxidant properties. It contains iron and iodine.
Shariff, remarking that one of the best species of moringa grows in Nigeria, declared that Zobo is a medicinal plant that is useful in the management of blood pressure and can be found in the North east as well as an ingredient for vitamin C.
Researchers’ assessment of its effects on the immune system indicated in the July 2013 edition of the African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology that Zobo (Hibscus sabdariffa) stimulates the production of various blood cell components.
By cultivating bitter leaf in the herbal garden, she said such will come handy for making vegetable soup and in the treatment of malaria and diabetes.
Bitter leaf is rich in vitamins and minerals. In traditional medicine, it is also used to treat hepatitis, diarrhoea, dysentery, menstrual pain, and cough. The leaves are also used as medicine for scabies. It also reduces the sugar level of the body drastically and repairs the pancreas and kidneys which makes it great for diabetic patients.
She said Ugwu (fluted pumpkin) is well known for its health benefits, including blood production, treating dizziness and as an immune booster.
Ugwu is rich in minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron and folic acid which make it highly nutritious. It is also a good source of vitamins A, C and, K and lots of minerals.
Researchers also found out that eating meals rich in fluted pumpkin leaves and seeds helps prevent cancer, improves blood count, beats diabetes, reduce blood glucose and cholesterol levels.
Also, African basil (Efirin in Yoruba; Daidoya in Hausa; Nchuawun in Igbo), which is a digestive stimulant, can used to prepare pepper soup or as a remedy for constipation.
In traditional medicine, it is used to lower blood pressure, reduce blood sugar level and treat piles. In Congo, scent leaf decoction is used for diarrhoea and gonorrhoea infection. In Nigeria, it is also used as a strong mosquito repellent.
Leaves of vegetable jute (Corchorus olitorius, Ewedu in Yoruba or Ahihiara in Ibo) are a rich source of beta carotene, iron, calcium and vitamin C, as well as an immune booster. When it is pounded with rubber leaves and mixed with a little water, its filtrate can be taken as a remedy for irregular menstrual flow in women.
In herbal medicine, it is used to control or prevent dysentery, worm infestation and constipation. Its leaves are also used for pain, piles, and tumours.
To get the herb garden started without any major problems, ensure you choose healthy plants or seed. An ideal location would be a place not too far from the house.