The Fountain of youth: anti-ageing plants | SA Garden and Home
TEXT JANE GRIFFITHS PHOTOGRAPHS JANE GRIFFITHS AND KEITH KNOWLTON

Jane Griffiths gives some tips on growing and using herbs and vegetables that’ll ease the ageing process. These anti-ageing plants are an excellent natural defense against ageing.

TURMERIC

anti-ageing plants -- turmeric  anti-ageing plants -- turmeric 2

GROWING: Similar to ginger, turmeric grows from a tuber that spreads underground. Buy fresh root from an organic market or nursery and plant in fertile soil in a sheltered, sunny spot. It’s a tropical plant and in colder areas its strappy leaves die back when frosted. Harvest the roots in the autumn of
their second year.

READ MORE: HOW TO MAKE HERBAL REMEDIES

HEALING PROPERTIES:

Turmeric contains curcumin which has antioxidant properties that boost the immune system, reduce joint inflammation and stiffness and maintain healthy digestion.

USING: Make a balm by mixing it with melted beeswax. (Be careful, it stains clothes.) Taken internally, curcumin is best absorbed when heated slightly in oil or mixed with black pepper.

SAGE

anti-ageing plants -- sage   anti-ageing plants -- sage 2

GROWING: Sage comes in a variety of colours, sizes and scents, from the deliciously sweet pineapple sage with bright red spiky flowers, to purple, Russian, tricolour and pale green varieties. It likes well-drained soil and plenty of sun. Prune in early spring to maintain its shape. After five years or so, sage becomes woody and straggly and needs to be replaced. Grow new plants from the parent by layering.

HEALING PROPERTIES: Sage improves mind functioning, particularly memory as it also increases the chemicals that encourage information exchange in the brain. It also lifts depression and eases nervous exhaustion.

USING: Make an infusion by steeping leaves (2t fresh, 1t dried) in a cup of boiling water and drink up to three cups daily.

READ MORE: All you need to know about growing lavender

ROSEMARY

anti-ageing plants -- rosemary

GROWING: Although its preferred climate is hot and dry, it does well in more temperate zones. There are many varieties, some trailing, others compact and bushy with flowers ranging from pale mauve to dark purple. It is difficult to grow from seed, so rather buy seedlings or propagate from an existing plant, using layering or cuttings. It is a large perennial and can live up to 20 years. Cut it back in late spring. In frost areas, don’t cut it back in autumn.

HEALING PROPERTIES: It eases depression and improves memory
and circulation.

USING: Make an infusion by steeping leaves (2t fresh, 1t dried) in a cup of boiling water and drink up to three cups daily.

BROCCOLI AND KALE

anti-ageing plants -- broccoli   anti-ageing plants -- kale

GROWING: Broccoli and kale like
cooler temperatures and fertile soil. They can be grown in summer as long as they’re given regular moisture, but will taste sweeter in colder weather. Once the main head has been harvested, broccoli will continue to produce many smaller heads, as long as these are picked regularly. Kale produces leaves for many months. Pick them from the bottom up, leaving the top crown intact.

HEALING PROPERTIES: Broccoli and kale are packed with antioxidants that fight off age-accelerating free radicals. They are also full of phytonutrients, chlorophyll, vitamins and minerals that strengthen bones, reduce cataract risk and increase collagen, lessening the ageing effects of pollution and sun.

USING: To retain the nutrients, eat raw or lightly steamed.

TRY THIS: BROCCOLI ANTIPASTI

GOTU KOLA (CENTELLA ASIATICA)

anti-ageing plants -- gotu kola

Commonly known as pennywort, this is the ultimate anti-ageing herb. Legend has it that the Tai Chi master Li Ching-Yuen was 256 years old when he died in 1933. His secret? Drinking a daily herbal tea that included gotu kola. Its Chinese name means ‘the fountain of youth’ and its Indian nickname is ‘food for the brain’.

GROWING: It is a semi-hardy perennial and an ideal groundcover, spreading to form a dense moisture-retaining carpet. Once established, it needs little attention. It survives light frost but requires protection against severe cold.

HEALING PROPERTIES:

Gotu kola increases collagen formation, speeds up healing and promotes hair growth. Use as an infusion to relieve stress and anxiety, detoxify the body, strengthen and restore the nervous system, increase mental alertness, encourage balanced moods and improve memory and circulation. Use in a balm to treat sore joints, burns, small wounds and to reduce scars. It rejuvenates the skin and treats varicose veins, psoriasis and eczema.

USING: Make an infusion by steeping leaves (2t fresh, 1t dried) in a cup of boiling water and drink up to three cups daily. Improve the taste by adding honey and a squeeze of lemon. To make a balm, infuse leaves in olive oil over low heat for 3–4 hours. Strain and mix the oil with melted beeswax.

CAUTION: Excessive use can lead to itchiness and headaches. Don’t use it if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, have an overactive thyroid or taking sedatives.

ALTHOUGH NATURAL, THESE ANTI-AGEING PLANTS – HERBAL REMEDIES CAN BE TOXIC. USE THEM WITH CAUTION. CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE TRYING NATURAL REMEDIES

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