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Feel your berry best; here's a pain-free prescription to help nurture your physical wellbeing and give your home a healthy look, inside and out.

NONE of us is getting any younger, and with age come the inevitable aches, pains and illnesses. But, rather than spending a fortune on supplements and super-foods, you can grow your own antidotes to today's most pressing medical matters.

From insomnia to headaches, and air purifiers to nutrient-packed performers, there's something to deal with everything.

And, even better, you can grow them all in the garden or inside.

VITAMIN BOOST JAM-PACKED with potassium, folate, Vitamin C and Vitamin B6, blueberries more than deserve their status as a superfood. Studies suggest they may have a positive impact on everything from heart disease to obesity.

They can be grown easily at home and, with established bushes in 2lt pots costing as little as PS13, they'll soon pay you back with pounds of berries for years to come. Choose a sunny, sheltered spot on your patio for best results.

Pick a self-pollinating variety such as Nelson as a mid- to late-season cultivar that's very hardy, or place two plants next to one another for cross-pollination.

For a large health lift, pick berries right before eating and add to your breakfast muesli topped with natural yoghurt - or turn into a scrumptious tart.

| TIP: For fun with the kids, choose Pink Lemonade or Pink Sapphire pink cultivars (available at most garden centres), which deliver all of the health benefits in a ballerinapink, all-singing, all-dancing package.

TOXINS EVER get a headache, tight chest or stinging eyes while cleaning? That's because home cleaning products release pollutants into the air.

But, never fear, Sansevieria trifasciata, mother-in-law's tongue, is here.

NASA research found this plant excellent at removing airborne toxins, lapping them up with its leaves as it photosynthesises and, in turn, releasing fresh oxygen.

A bonus is that, unlike most plants, it recycles the air overnight as well - so you can breathe easy with this beauty in your bedroom.

Happy in full sun or partial shade, moisten the soil once every other week and allow water to drain away completely for best results.

INSOMNIA A THIRD of the UK population could do with some Valeriana officinalis for a good night's sleep, which not only makes you feel great, it helps you to think and recharges your immune system as well.

Valerian contains a number of compounds that help regulate nerve impulses in your brain and nervous system - reducing anxiety and promoting better sleep. It also comes without the side-effects of sleeping pills, so it's a double plus.

If you fancy trying it, plant now in seed form for harvest from July to October.

Once the roots are ready, dig them up and dry them out in the sun for a few hours to dry.

Grind with a pestle and mortar and pop a spoonful into hot water to make a bedtime tonic to aid sleep. | TIP: Cats love Valerian. About 30 minutes after ingestion, it has a soothing effect. So, before their next trip to the vet, try sprinkling a very small amount on kitty's breakfast.

MENTAL HEALTH SALAD leaves grow quickly, giving you an immediate sense of achievement, boosting your emotional wellbeing.

Sow a selection of spinach, lettuce or rocket seeds now - directly into the ground where they will crop - and watch as the young plants peek their heads above ground almost straight away.

Ensure that the soil is full of well-rotted organic additives, and also watch out for slugs and snails.

The first of your young leaves will be ready to harvest in just two to three months. As more re-grow in their place, you'll have a constant supply of mini-wins to take pride in and boost your emotional health.

And that's not forgetting the continued supplement to your dinners with this mineral-rich homegrown veg. | TIP: Sowing lettuce leaves in a window box will save on precious space in smaller plots, keeps the slugs at bay and gives you fresh salad to pick for use in BLTs.

ANTIOXIDANTS IF YOU'RE up for a challenge, you might consider growing your own anti-oxidant-rich tea with Camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub with tremendous potential.

Studies suggest anti-oxidants can fight free radicals that contribute to chronic diseases.

For a good tasting brew, choose a mature bush of three years old or more from your local garden centre. Start harvesting by plucking the first two bright green leaves and buds as they appear on each branch.

It makes an attractive plant, either indoors in a large pot or in the garden. A handful of fresh leaves will make a single cup of loose-leaf tea.

Once oxidised to the level you require, pop the leaves in the oven to dry at 900C for 15 minutes and then steep in hot water to make a loose-leaf tea that is completely fresh.

So, there you have it - five incredible grow-at-home plants to drive your health into top gear and maintain it.

CAPTION(S):

Clear the air with Mother-inlaw's tongue

Valerian

Lettuce growing aids wellbeing

Tea time: Camellia sinensis

Studies suggest blueberries may have a positive impact on everything from heart disease to obesity
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 13, 2019
Words:839
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