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Natural Awakenings Austin

Grow Your Own Medicinal Garden

By Maria Carbonell

Ayurveda, birthed in South India more than 5,000 years ago, is known as the mother of all healing systems. This ancient system of medicine is as relevant today as it was then, with an approach that is comprehensive and sophisticated, yet simple, without being simplistic.

This systematic method focuses on treating the whole self—mind, body and spirit—and concentrates on diet, meditation, lifestyle, holistic therapies and treatments, yoga and herbs. Ayurveda is a path of coming to realize one’s true self in a harmonious relationship with nature.

There’s something magical and grounding about putting your hands in the soil, bending to the earth and caring for a plant from seedling to tabletop or teapot. The plant that was given nourishment during her cycles of growth become nourishment in the home, the belly and the mind.

Growing a medicine garden can help you develop a deeper connection to nature. Growing Ayurveda plants in your healing garden not only strengthens that connection to nature but creates more opportunities to live a healthier life. The following three Texas-loving plants—holy basil, gotu kola and ashwaganda—are traditional Ayurvedic plants known for their healing, health-affirming and beauty-enhancing properties.

Holy Basil (Ocimum Sanctum)

Holy Basil

 What it is: Holy Basil, also called sacred basil and tulasi, is known as the great protector. Bees love this plant’s aromatic flowers, which purifies and welcomes guests at the entry of homes in India. The leaves are traditionally used as tea. The plant is easy to grow, and the fragrance is bright and mood boosting as aroma therapy.

The benefits: Holy basil helps to strengthen immunity, both physical and spiritual. It supports the body and mind during taxing times and increases natural energy so you can deal with the stressors of daily life more gracefully. It also assists in clearing toxins from the gut and reduces inflammation. It is also often used to support weight loss. For beauty, holy basil helps skin radiate with the glow of good health.  

Parts used: leaves

How to use it: Infuse one teaspoon of dry leaves in eight ounces of hot water and let sit for eight minutes. Enjoy the fragrant aroma and flavor. Add honey or lemon if desired. You may also use a blend of equal parts gotu kola and holy basil dried leaves for mental clarity, it’s a calming and balancing synergistic blend.


Gotu Kola (Centella Asiatica)

Gotu Kola

 What it is: Gotu kola, also called as brahmi and Indian pennywort, is known as the herb of longevity. In Austin, this plant is commonly used as ground cover and in hanging baskets. The leaves are shaped like a brain and have a bitter taste.

The benefits: Gotu kola helps to enhance memory, concentration and focus. It helps to balance both hemispheres of the brain, so you operate using both your analytical/linear and creative/intuitive sides. In addition, it’s beneficial for the endocrine gland which is connected to one’s intuition.

Parts used: leaves and stems

How to use it: Simply pick as you go and eat three raw leaves per day. Dice leaves and sprinkle raw in salads. Juice two large handfuls of leaves by itself or with other vegetables for a robust drink. You may also powder the dry leaves and take as a brain boosting supplement in your smoothies.


Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)


 What it is: Ashwagandha, a woody shrub, is also known as Indian ginseng and winter cherry. It is considered one of the most important herbs of Ayurvedic medicine. Also playfully known as “the strength or smell of a hundred horses,” this hardy plant produces small red seeds.

The benefits: Ashwagandha helps rebuild a weakened nervous system. It’s especially beneficial when you’re feeling depleted by stress and need to stabilize your energy, increase your vitality, vigor and libido. As outside pressure mounts during life’s most challenging times of growth, take the medicine of ashwagandha so your body can withstand and thrive through the pressure with a calm centeredness, and grounded in who you are and always were. 

Parts used: Roots

How to use it: Use the roots after they have dried. Either boil the roots or ground the roots with a spice grinder until powder. Add one teaspoon of the powder to warm milk or a milk substitute or simply stir into hot water to end your day.

Maria Carbonell is a Spiritual Life Coach for the conscious feminine medicine movement, Ayurvedic holistic health educator, gardener and bridgebuilder for plants. She translates messages from plants to help us reconnect to the forgotten wisdom of beauty and flowers. For more information, visit


DIY Ayurvedic Pesto

 Summer is an ideal time to make pesto with ingredients from your garden. Experiment with the flavors and variety of summer bounty!

One bunch herbal leaves of choice (purslane, basil, cilantro, holy basil, gotu kola, etc.)

1/2 cup nuts (pine, walnut, cashew)

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (optional)

1 garlic clove

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup shredded parmesan/romano cheese

Salt and black pepper to taste

Pulse herbal leaves and nuts (seeds) in food processor. Add garlic, olive oil, cheese, salt and pepper.

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