I love cooking with fresh herbs. They add just the right touch of flavor to bring a dish from decent to sensational. Not only are herbs delicious, but they also have numerous health benefits when used both internally and externally. Even if you don’t have space for a garden, you can still grow herbs on the patio or even the kitchen windowsill, and I would highly recommend it. As you probably know, I also recommend selecting heirloom varieties and growing organically.
I don’t have time to talk about all of the wonderful herbs out there, but I will mention a few of my favorites. All of the below information comes from my second cousin, Brittany Wood Nickerson of Thyme Herbal, a practicing community herbalist, health educator and cook.
Parsley contains high amounts of calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium as well as vitamins E and C (1/2 cup has more vitamin C than an orange). It stimulates digestion and the assimilation of nutrients. Parsley is a gentle diuretic and an anti-inflammatory. It assists and promotes detoxification, and also helps to relieve water retention, cramps, headaches and other pre-menstrual symptoms.
Basil is calming to the nervous system. In a tea, it can be used to treat headaches associated with anxiety as well as relieving stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and constipation. It is anti-bacterial and can help to relieve cold and flu symptoms, including fever. In food, basil helps to provide general digestive support. It is one of the best herbs to use for anxiety-related digestive issues.
Oregano stimulates the digestive system and is an antispasmodic. It is calming and relaxing and provides relief for intestinal spasms as well as cramps, pain and nausea associated with menstruation. A tea made of the fresh or dried leaves can relieve headaches, or you can put the freshly bruised leaves directly on your forehead to relieve pain and tension. Oregano is also a powerful antibacterial, antiseptic and antifungal which can be used internally or externally.
Thyme increases circulation to the digestive organs and stimulates the appetite. It is good for indigestion and helps to relieve gas and bloating. It is a potent antibacterial and antifungal. As a tea or a steam, it is an excellent remedy for upper respiratory congestion, especially when there is risk of infection in the sinus, throat or lungs. Thyme can be used topically to treat fungal and bacterial infections.
Rosemary is a nutritive tonic herb for both the nervous system and the cardiovascular system. It soothes and nourishes the nerves, improving circulation and strengthening blood vessel walls. It can be used to increase cerebral circulation, promote mental focus, and ease headache symptoms. Rosemary is an antispasmodic and can be used to help relieve menstrual cramps. It helps with indigestion, gas and bloating and helps to stimulate bile production, assisting in the digestion of fats and oils. When applied topically to the scalp, rosemary stimulates circulation to hair follicles, encouraging healthy hair growth.
Mint helps to prevent colds and the flu, and the hot tea is good for fevers. It supports circulation and helps cool the body down on a hot day. Mint helps to ease indigestion, gas and cramping and makes a perfect after dinner tea. It is powerful for easing tension and promoting mental clarity. It is a great performance herb, and helps one to remain calm and focused. Mint can also be used topically as an anti-inflammatory.
My next post will be on creating an herbal infused oil and a topical salve. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!