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Health Benefits of Gardening

Get Green in Your Garden & Get Healthy

No, we’re not talking about raising environmental consciousness! Get green in your garden and enjoy good health that follows. Gardening has proven health benefits – not only will you enjoy fresh, tasty organic produce without having to travel further than your own backyard, you will be able to enjoy the revitalization of heart, soul, mind and body that is engendered by the act of gardening itself.

Doctors in the UK have founded a national charity devoted to promoting gardening therapy for treatment of depression. In the US, war veterans are being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder by gardening. Gardening has helped individuals with physical or learning disabilities. It helps slow down progress of degenerative diseases, and in rehabilitation after illness or injury. Doctors have found gardening to be more effective than drug therapy, and much cheaper, too! Gardening for health has been formally called Social and Therapeutic Horticulture. Benefits are numerous:

* Gardening is an engaging and enjoyable type of exercise, with a purposeful outcome. It leads to better overall physical health through a range of movements: stretching, weight-lifting, squatting.

* When you see beautiful flowers or vegetables that you have nurtured and tended, it provides a sense of purpose and accomplishment that leads to improved mental health. Plus it makes your yard look good – a source of pride!

* Gardening offers a multi-sensory aesthetic experience that stimulates the senses in new and unconventional ways. Whether it is ants crawling on your toes, earthworms wriggling under your spade, the aroma of cilantro, the white perfection of a strawberry flower, or the whisper of sage grass in the wind – every sense is awakened.

* Healthy garden soil contains many healthy microorganisms and bacteria – dirt under your fingernails and on your carrots is good for you.

* Gardening promotes relationship building with neighbors, friends, and others who garden and makes you part of a community.

In addition, “green” therapy, being outside and in touch with nature, is a powerful mood lifter. Many studies show that being around nature and greenery promotes physical healing. Within a few minutes it can produce a decline in blood pressure and calm heart rates. Even if you live in an apartment, you can get green. Patio tomatoes and vegetables and herbs grown in pots will flourish on a balcony or window.

There is a particular kind of magic that happens when you commune with nature. Children recognize this from a very young age. They love to be outside, to climb trees, roll in the grass, lay down in the dirt. As we get older, sometimes we forget how to derive energy from nature. Place your hand in the dirt and you touch the vital core of the earth, the source of all life, the place where growth and development begins and is nurtured. Being in the garden, working the soil, and touching green things connects us to the powerful vibrations of the universe itself – energizing our soul and spirit.

Family farms that utilize sustainable farming practices to ensure high quality are becoming a thing of the past. Farming has become industrialized and focused on output rather than quality, and the harmonic balance with the natural environment is lost. Commercial farms maximize crop yields by depleting the soil of minerals and nutrients, using intensive growing practices that rely on fertilizer and harmful pesticides. One of the greatest benefits of going green, therefore, is that you can eat the produce. Unlike the lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers you buy at the store, you know what has gone into yours. They have been raised organically and nurtured under your tender care. The love and energy you directed into their growth is returned back into you at harvest time. What could be more beneficial and revitalizing to your body and heart?


About the author

Dr. Cynthia Thaik, M.D., FACC is a Harvard-trained cardiologist serving the greater Los Angeles community at her holistic health center in Burbank and Valencia, CA. Dr. Thaik is the author of Your Vibrant Heart: Restoring Health, Strength, and Spirit from the Body’s Core. To learn more about Dr. Thaik or the Holistic Healing Heart Center, or to schedule an appointment, please contact info@drcynthia.com or call (818) 842-1410.

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