Herbs, Herbs, and more Herbs

While our mountains are covered in deep snow and we continue to have frosty nights, I see our stone fruit trees light up in white and pink blossoms as I drive to work. This is my favorite season. Our hills are green and our first wild flowers, white and yellow mustard, are blooming. God’s creation is budding and its my alarm clock to start planting my first round of garden seeds.

This year I’m starting with my herbs and salad greens.  Over the winter season I started a big herbal garden (it was the only thing I could get to grow) and it has not only flourished, but our kids love it, particularly the girls. With the herbs, we have been able to get creative and make spice mixes, teas, coffee or sugar body scrubs, hand salves, chap stick, infused water, and infused oils for medicinal or cooking purposes. I created a small book of these recipes for our program and for kids to take home and do on their own. I plan to post some of these fun recipes, but today I want to just talk about herbs.

Herbs take many forms. We commonly think of basil, cilantro, dill, oregano, etc. However, some of the best herbs are flowers. Take calendula for an example. It’s a common flower you find in people’s landscaping and planters, but did you know that it is highly medicinal? Calendula alone contains properties such as; anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti fungal. Its most common use is on the skin for scrapes, bruises, burns, irritations, etc. People collect and dry the petals to infuse oils and pull out these properties. By doing so, you can put it into all kinds of forms for your skin.

Here in our program we have been doing just that. In fact, we have made multiply batches of infused olive oil and coconut oil with calendula to use for our DIY salves, scrubs, chap sticks, etc.

Below I have broken it down so that you can read about each herb and how they are beneficial. My next post will then provide ways to use these herbs and create your own home remedies and makes.

Herbs to use:

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial agents. It boosts the immune system and is full of minerals and vitamin C, E, and B. it is known to help with the treatment of the following conditions:

Heal wounds, burns and sunburn, eczema, stop bleeding, expel worms, promote bile flow, reduce blood sugar, reduce cholesterol, constipation, and mouth ulcers.

Basil

This herb has been shown to help in the treatment of a range of symptoms, including:

Inflammation, decongestant, digestive disorders, diabetes, headaches, heart disease, infection, depression. Rub fresh leaves on insect bites to help with stings and itching. It can be made into a syrup with honey and taken as an infusion for colds.

Calendula/Pot marigold

Calendula holds anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti fungal properties. Many use it for scrapes, bruises and especially burns. Ointments help with irritated skin: eczema, sunburns, chapped skin, etc. You can steep the petals in vegetable oil for the same purpose. The flowers can be used in cooking for salads or sweet baked dishes including breads. These also make a great fragrance for potpourri.

Chamomile

An anti-inflammatory that can be used to treat digestive tract ailments and other health problems. It also acts as an antiseptic. It is both soothing and sedative. Many put it in tea to help with nausea or indigestion, menstrual discomfort, or sleeplessness.  It can be made into an ointment for skin irritations or insect bites. It is great for skin and hair care; boil water and allow flowers to steep, use as a wash.

Dill

Dill is used in aiding digestion and prevents constipation. Compresses or dressings are created to place over boils and used to reduce swelling or joint pain.

Echinacea/ Coneflower

Some of the most common uses of this herb are immune system stimulation and the prevention of infections. It helps grow white blood cells and contains antiviral, antibacterial, and anti fungal properties that are used in the form of a capsule for treating tinctures, respiratory tract infections, kidney infections, skin diseases, boils, abscesses and slow healing wounds. Sometimes the root is used in a decoction and applied on skin infections or wounds.

Garlic

This popular herb lowers cholesterol levels and blood sugar which helps prevent heart attack and stroke. You can chop up a whole clove and swallow raw 3x a day told help fight colds and illness. It acts as a natural antibiotic.

Lavender

Lavender is a scent of choice when a person wants to alleviate symptoms of overall depression. It is heavily used in cooking for flavoring sugar, biscuits, cakes, jams, desserts, etc. It is used as an essential oil for fragrance. Lavender is also often dried for potpourri scented sachets.

Lemon Balm

This herb has antibacterial and antiviral properties and is mildly sedating. Used often for nervous anxiety, depression, indigestion, and tension headaches. It is a great insect repellent and can be helpful for bites.

Lemon Verbena

Preparations from this plant can be used to create a breath freshening mouthwash.

Mint

Closely associated with digestion, including bad breath and stomach ailments, but also has a variety of analgesic and respiratory applications. Spearmint is better used than peppermint when it comes to digestion and stomach issues. Take in teas for colds, chest infections, asthma. Also has insect repellent properties.

 

Nasturtium

Nasturtiums have been eaten for their high vitamin content for centuries. Thrown into salads for color and used in the garden to keep bugs away. Both the flowers and leaves can be used. Throw the leaves in cooking or salads for a peppery flavor. Their seeds have properties for antiseptics and antibacterial. Mostly used for treating urinary and upper respiratory tract infections. Usually taken in the form of infusions.

Oregano

Provides a boost to the immune system, helping individuals rid colds and flu as well as protect from infection.

Parsley

Used heavily in the kitchen and flavor is best fresh, bot dried. It’s a great antioxidant with vitamin A and C. A natural anti-allergen. Tea can be made from leaves to help with jaundice and coughs. Also known to help with menstrual issues, kidney stones, UTI’s, and arthritis.

Peppermint

Best known for its minty scent and ability to help with digestive ailments. Add to drinking water for flavor and often used in cooking.

Rosemary

A potent antiseptic, antibacterial, antioxidant, and antispasmodic. Rosemary oil used for muscular and joint pain and an infusion for colds, influenza, headaches, fatigue, depression, and nervous tension.

Sage

A natural astringent, antiseptic, and antibacterial. Infusions are used for sore throats, mouth ulcers, gum disease, laryngitis or tonsillitis. Taken as a tonic to help digestion or menopausal issues. It is also used externally to help heal wounds by compressing it. It is used aromatically as a rinse for dark hair and to treat dandruff.

Thyme

This fragrant herb has culinary uses and internal/external medicinal applications. Used as an     antibacterial and anti fungal. Infusions used for coughs, colds, chest infections, and digestive upset. Made into syrups for coughs, and gargles for sore throats. It can be added to oil, like sunflower oil, to be used as a rub for chest infections, rheumatic and joint pain.

Yarrow

This herb is a traditional digestive aid and stomach tonic useful in treating gastrointestinal conditions. It’s used externally for wounds, ulcers, and nosebleeds while also helping lower blood pressure. It has anti-inflammatory properties and in teas it helps colds and fevers. You can lightly infuse water with the flower tops to make a cleanser or toner for oily skin.

Hailey Stambach

Hailey Stambach