Grow some pain relief in your garden

Ease your way through the busy summer season with the help of some pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory garden produce. Add them to your garden or containers or purchase the produce at your local farmer’s market.
Refresh and rejuvenate yourself with a cup of mint-infused tea or ice water. Mint also helps relieve headaches and general aches and pain. Contain this vigorous perennial herb by growing it in a container to prevent it from overtaking your garden beds. Take advantage of these benefits year-round by starting a few plants at the end of the growing season. Root a few cuttings to plant and grow in a sunny window.
Add sage tea to your list of favorite brews. Just harvest a few leaves, add hot water, and brew a bit of sore throat relief. Sage tea has long been used to soothe scratchy and irritated throats and showed positive results in a 2006 clinical trial. Grow this herb in the garden or a container, as it thrives in a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Harvest leaves as needed throughout the season. Regular harvesting encourages more growth for future harvests. Harvest as much as one-third of the plant, to preserve and enjoy the benefits year-round. 
You may have used a topical pain relief cream that contained capsaicin. This is the spicy element in chili, jalapeno, habanero, and cayenne peppers and is a natural pain-fighting tool often used to help treat backaches, arthritis, and muscle pain. Hot peppers are ready to harvest when they are fully colored. Ask friends to share their harvest or purchase hot peppers at a farmer’s market if your garden lacks some spice. 
Grow and use ginger to help reduce inflammation and combat migraines, muscle pain, arthritis and post-workout or post-gardening soreness. Plus, it helps fight nausea, which is common during a summer filled with barbeques and celebrations. Grow it in a pot outdoors or in a sunny window alongside your other indoor plants. Ginger is a tropical plant, but you can find plants or rhizomes, the part you eat, at many garden centers or online plant retailers. You may also try rooting the rhizomes to start new plants. 
Sour cherries are credited with managing muscle pain and inflammation. They are loaded with disease-fighting chemicals and antioxidants and help fight inflammation and relieve pain. Growing a cherry tree may not be practical or possible but purchase plenty when they are in season. Juice, dry, and preserve them to enjoy health benefits all year.
If space allows, consider planting a sour cherry tree in your backyard. Sour cherries do need a cold period with air temperatures between 34 and 45 degrees to initiate flowering for fruit development. Consult your local extension service for help selecting the best variety for your region. It takes several years for cherry plants to start producing fruit, but watching your tree grow into maturity and bear its first crop is part of the joy of gardening. Just be sure to protect the harvest from hungry birds.
When growing these pain relief plants you’ll soon discover it’s not just the plants that provide, but the simple act of tending your garden and harvesting can elevate your mood, lower your blood pressure, and start you on the road to feeling better.
Melinda Myers has written over 20 gardening books, including Midwest Gardener’s Handbook, 2nd Edition and Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” instant video and DVD series and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment radio program. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ website is

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