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Sage leaves can be made into a tea to help soothe sore and irritated throats. Photo courtesy of MelindaMyers.comSage leaves can be made into a tea to help soothe sore and irritated throats. Photo courtesy of MelindaMyers.com

Sage leaves can be brewed into a tea to help soothe sore and irritated throats. Photo courtesy of MelindaMyers.com

Make it through the busy summer season easier with pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory gardening products. Plant them in your garden or planters, or buy them at your local farmer’s market.

Refresh and rejuvenate with a cup of mint tea or ice water. Mint also helps with headaches and general aches and pains. Keep this vigorous perennial herb in check by growing it in a container to prevent it from overtaking your garden beds. Reap these benefits year-round by planting 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 beverages. Simply harvest a few leaves, add hot water, and brew a sore throat remedy. Sage tea has long been used to soothe scratchy and irritated throats and showed positive results in a 2006 clinical study. Grow this herb in the garden or in a container. It thrives in a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Harvest the leaves as needed throughout the season. Regular harvesting encourages more growth for future harvests. Harvest up to one-third of the plant to preserve and enjoy the benefits year-round.

You may have used a topical pain relief cream that contains capsaicin. This is the spicy element in chili, jalapeno, habanero and cayenne peppers and is a natural pain reliever often used to treat back pain, arthritis and muscle pain. Hot peppers are ready to harvest when they are fully colored. Ask friends to share their harvest with you or buy hot peppers at a farmer’s market if this plant doesn’t grow in your garden.

Grow and use ginger to reduce inflammation and fight migraines, muscle pain, arthritis and sore muscles after exercise or gardening. It also helps with nausea, which is so common in a summer of barbecues and parties. Grow it in a pot outdoors or in a sunny window next to your other houseplants. Ginger is a tropical plant, but you can find plants or rhizomes, the edible part, in many garden centers or online plant retailers. Or try rooting the rhizomes you buy at the supermarket to grow new plants.

Tart cherries are credited with relieving muscle pain and inflammation. Rich in disease-fighting chemicals and antioxidants, they help fight inflammation and reduce pain. Growing a cherry tree may not be practical or possible, but buy plenty of cherry trees when they’re in season. Juice, dry and preserve them to reap their health benefits year-round. If space allows, you can plant a tart cherry tree in your yard. Tart cherries require a cold period with air temperatures between 34 and 45 degrees to initiate flowering and fruit development. Contact your local extension service for help choosing the best variety for your area. Cherry plants take several years to bear fruit, but watching your tree grow and bear its first crop is part of the joy of gardening. Just be sure to protect the crop from hungry birds.

When you grow these plants, you’ll soon discover that it’s not just the plants that provide relief. Simply tending to your garden and harvesting can lift your mood, lower your blood pressure, and help you feel 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 radio program Melinda’s Garden Moment. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ website is www.MelindaMyers.com.