Herbs play a big part in our day-to-day life in our household. We grow them, we cook with them and we use them to treat all sorts of things from burns to cold and flu formulas and skin conditions.
My earliest memory of herbs was when I was around 5 or 6 and my mum and dad took my sister and me to a Sicilian couple to treat my sister’s swollen ankle. They put a herbal poultice and wrapped it in a bandage. This made me very curious and I remember I didn’t like the smell of it. I wondered what was in it that could heal her swollen ankle.
Many years later I found myself working with traditional Chinese Medicine which further increased my curiosity.
I enjoy growing herbs and use my garden herbs in some of my skin and hair formulas. When using herbs for your cooking next, think about which herbs will benefit you most and use those herbs. These are some of the herbs I grow with a few of their benefits. Some of these I also use in my formulas:
The Greeks, Romans and the knights of the Middle Ages all thought thyme brought one strength and courage. The Romans used thyme in the treatment of depression. As an antiseptic and antifungal, Thymol is used in Listerine. Thyme has one of the highest antioxidant levels among herbs, which makes it exceptionally good for fighting off coughs and sore throats.
High in vitamins K, C, A, Folate, Iron and contains the Favonoid apigenin that is known to help inhibit breast cancer cell growth. Add this to salads like tabouli.
Basil – Not only a highly fragrant plant, it is an anti bacterial and anti-inflammatory high in eugenol. You can put cuttings of basil into a vase in a sunny spot in your kitchen. They will start to grow roots and stay alive for many months until they are all consumed.
I love this herb. It helps strengthen the immune system, is a high anti-inflammatory, and helps with skin conditions, including eczema, psoriasis and acne. It is also beneficial for cognitive function. It is said that if inhaled or consumed can increase memory, concentration and focus. A mood enhancing brain booster.
Mint – Not just a breath freshener, it helps treat nausea, headaches and respiratory disorders. As an anti-inflammatory on the skin, it helps soothe the skin helping cure infections and itchiness with its cooling effect.
The name of Rosemary originates from the Latin word rosmarinus, meaning “mist of the sea” or “dew of the sea” because it was found to grow wild along the sea cliff along the coast of Italy, Greece, Spain and France. Rosemary is also known as the herb of memory retention. It is an antibacterial and antimicrobial. It balances the hormones, relieves stress and is a liver detoxification.
One of my mum’s favourites from her garden. It originated in Europe and was commonly found growing on the roadsides. It is a bitter herb. Chicory contains inulin, which is a powerful prebiotic. Prebiotics are food ingredients that induce the growth or activity of beneficial microorganisms”. Chickory root is used as a coffee substitute that’s high in antioxidants.
I don’t really enjoy the cold Winter months as much as Summer. One of the ways I like to keep warm is making my own herbal teas from fresh herbs and spices. Not only are these warming but are also packed with health benefits and keeps up my fluid intake during the day.
One of my favourite teas I make to help strengthen the immune system contains:
Fresh cut thyme from my garden. Thyme is known to have one of the highest antioxidant levels.
Cloves to regulate blood sugar are an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and enhance the immune system.
Cinnamon has anti-biotic, anti-fungal and anti-viral agent and help boost the immune system. In Chinese medicine it is known as a ‘Yang’ food, which helps raise our core temperature.
Sliced orange, from my mum’s garden, for added vitamin C and flavour as well as Manuka honey.
I like to keep topping it up throughout the day with boiled water. Drink and enjoy.