The power of plants

I am always amazed at the power of plants to sustain and even heal the body. Recently, a plant with amazing life-saving properties has come to my attention.
Many gardeners will be familiar with periwinkle ( Vinca Major and Vinca Minor) as a useful ground cover plant with pretty blue flowers. In the same family is the Madagascan periwinkle; native to the rain forests and with pink flowers, this little plant was responsible for one of the most important medical breakthroughs of the 20th century. 
 The plant, though highly toxic, had been used in folk medicine for many years and as a result came to the attention of 2 Canadian scientists who after the 2nd World War used it to develop Vinblastine and Vincristine, two very important chemotherapy drugs used to treat Leukaemia and Hodgkin's lymphoma. So important was this discovery, that it is credited with raising the survival rate of Leukaemia in the second part of last century from 10% to 95%. 
Vinblastine is one of the drugs forming part of our daughter's treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma.

On a more culinary note, there are many plants with 'superfood' status which can have a profound effect on our health. One of these is turmeric whose health boosting properties have been well documented of late. You may have seen the BBC 2 programme 'Trust me I'm a doctor' which documented its anti inflammatory and potentially anti cancer benefits.

Turmeric is most often sold in powdered form but I have recently found whole turmeric in Waitrose.

It's easy to see when looking at the strange twig like roots that it is a relative of ginger.
And it partners well with ground ginger and cinnamon in a lovely warming drink just right for these darker evenings.

Turmeric latte is easily made.
Simply warm a cup of milk, in this case coconut milk, and whisk in a tsp each of ground turmeric, cinnamon and ginger. 
Try it! It's like a warm hug!

I have also been adding turmeric to one of my favourite soups. 

Using butternut squash from the allotment with a dollop of red thai curry paste, a sprinkle of turmeric and enriched with coconut milk it makes a yummy soup.

The darker evenings are now with us. I actually like this time of year.
Time to cosy up, light a few candles, pull on some woolly socks.
I hope you are enjoying the cosy evenings too.

annjenny x


  1. The soup tastes delicious. Hope your daughter is coping with the treatment OK, take care.

    1. Thank you. There's no denying that daughter's treatment is brutal - extreme nausea and exhaustion are the worst side effects but somehow she is managing to remain cheerful a good part of the time.

  2. A really interesting post, you have reminded me of the value of turmeric, I must try and use it a bit more. I'll try a turmeric latte later I think. I hope things are going as well as possible with your daughter. CJ xx

    1. Thank you CJ. Daughter's treatment is going ok. The side effects are very nasty as you can imagine but on the positive side she is already half way through.We are all hanging on for Christmas when hopefully the treatment will all be over. Hope you enjoy the turmeric latte!x

  3. I love the sound of your soup. I hope your daughter's treatment is going well x

    1. Thank you Gina. Daughter is managing very well considering. Sometimes better than me! But we are all looking forward to the end of the treatment in a few weeks time. x

  4. I'm a big fan of turmeric and chuck it into most savoury things I cook here. Have never seen it in its pre ground stage, though. You've reminded me that, when I was growing up, there was a herbalist's shop over the street from us and lots of people turned to natural sources of healing in those days. Very best wishes to your girl. To you all.

  5. Sending best wishes to your daughter. It's gruelling - I remember my mum feeling very nauseous and tired during her chemotherapy sessions.
    I take turmeric as a supplement. I was recently diagnosed with Achilles tendonitis, but I'm convinced turmeric has helped with the pain and inflammation. I've also been intending to make some of this 'golden milk' for ages - I have all the ingredients, so no excuses!


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