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Garden Therapy For Breast Cancer Patients

We know that “ecotherapy” - also known as nature therapy or green therapy - can help improve an individual’s ability to cope with distress by boosting mood, confidence and self-esteem. A small study from Wales now suggests that this type of therapy can provide benefits even when it takes a simple form, such as growing a garden indoors in a bowl. Seven women participants were provided a bowl, compost and three “starter” plants by researchers from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. The investigators devised the “garden bowl” as a way for breast cancer patients to interact with nature at home. The 3-month study also included an online discussion forum. The women were encouraged to upload photos of their garden bowls and keep diaries as well as participate in the discussions. Results suggested that the women gained confidence and feelings of control as well as improved self-esteem, all positive changes that have been observed in other ecotherapy studies. In addition, the researchers reported that the intervention “clearly evoked feelings of joy” in the participants. The investigators also suggested that garden bowls could serve as an alternative means of engaging with nature for those who may not be able to spend time outdoors.

Want a Nontoxic Garden this Spring?

Creating a garden that is free of pests but does not rely on pesticides is simple – and better for your family and the planet! Try these three techniques for a safe, thriving garden this year!
If you are planting a garden, try natural, nontoxic approaches to pest control:

  1. Pyrethrum. This mixture of insecticidal compounds found in some species of African chrysanthemums controls aphids, whiteflies, stinkbugs and mites. You should be able to find pyrethrum products in your local garden center (some will say they contain "pyrethrins.") Check labels carefully to make sure you choose the product intended for the crops you're growing or the pests you're trying to eliminate.
  2. Neem. From the seeds and leaves of the neem tree, Azadirachta indica, which is native to India, the compounds neem contains (such as azadirachtin) act as insect repellents. Neem is nontoxic to animals and humans and beneficial to bees. Although neem products are somewhat more expensive than most synthetic pesticides, they are worth it for both personal and environmental health.
  3. Insects. Consider adding beneficial insects such as ladybugs and praying mantis to your garden (both are commonly sold at garden centers).

Also ask your local garden shop about simple soap solutions you can spray on plants to help eliminate insects, and about pheromone traps (useful against some insects, including Japanese beetles). You can always use netting or pick or brush insects off manually or wash them off with forceful streams of water.

Dr. Weil’s British Columbia Garden, Part 1 (Video)

Take a tour of Dr. Weil's summer garden in British Columbia. Filled with fruits, vegetables and flowers, there is always a bountiful supply of food for body and soul.

Looking for more videos? Check out Dr. Weil's YouTube channel for a great selection.