the tummydoc's garden week 1: chillin' with lavender!

Alte Schiefertafel aus der Schule

When choosing which plants to grow in your garden, don't leave out herbs.  Many are perennials which come back more robust each year.  They also give your food that special kick to take your cuisine up to the next level.  I especially love herbs, as many have healing properties.

Despite what wee may think, before the days of modern medicine, people were still smart.  They got sick and wanted to feel better. Chemical medications weren't an option, but Mother Nature was.  Many home remedies used today stemmed from these times.

As a physician, I feel the overwhelming pressure of the medical field  to approach "natural remedies" with great skepticism.  But, I feel that by not embracing the healing potential of many botanicals, I would be doing my patients a disservice.  Many botanicals don't have the side effects common t0 prescription drugs, and can produce results as good as or even better than one I would write on a prescription pad.  Fortunately, the field of medicine is changing and starting to embrace the natural world.  Clinical trials are proving what people knew all along...there is power in Mother Nature!

This brings us to one of my favorite herbs, the star of week 1 of the tummydoc's garden:  lavender.  Lavender is a fantastic perennial herb that not only smells fantastic, it looks great too when the distinctive purple flowers bloom.  It doesn't require much care, and that's always a bonus in today's chaotic age.  My friend,  fantastic Italian chef Fabrizio Schenardi, loves lavender.  He loves to add it to dishes with fish, and says it makes a mean cookie as well.

As for the medical benefits, there are many...

  • Sleep.  Lavender has long been used as a sleep aid.  You can put some drops of lavender oil on a towel near your bed or drink some lavender tea an hour before bedtime to help catch some Zzzz's.
  • Lessen Anxiety.  Our world is full of stress.  Many people rely on medications that are potentially sedating and addictive to cope.  Lavender is a great natural alternative.  Medical studies have proven that eating lavender can take the edge off of mild anxiety.  In fact, in one study, people were shown super stressful movie clips to induce anxiety.  Those who took lavender didn't stress out nearly as much.  This was a placebo controlled (sugar pill) study too, which means that no one, including the research subjects and investigators, knew who was getting which.
  • Assist Digestion.  Lavender has carminative properties, which means it can help relax the intestines and help combat gas and bloating.  By virtue of its relaxation properties, it also holds great promise for IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), where stress and anxiety cause worse symptoms.  Hmm...what about lavender tummydrops
  • Wound healing.  Honey by itself can assist with wound healing.  When it's lavender honey, it's even better.


As always, thanks for reading and I look forward to sharing more, both on this blog and on the tummydoc channel.

-Dustin G. James, MD

Board-Certified Gastroenterologist

the tummydoc

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