Herbs and health
There are many herbs that are beneficial to health and well being. Many you can grow yourself and use in cooking and on food.
Herbs are an everyday part of our lives in cooking and there are few that do not know the common names and uses. The added flavour of basil with fresh tomatoes, parsley sprinkled on meat dishes and soups, the bay leaf added to stews and soups are all much enjoyed and, in most kitchens, a whole variety of fresh, or usually dried, herbs can be found.
What many do not know is that many of the common herbs, and a lot more of the lesser known, have medicinal properties and that these can be used to replace expensive OTC and prescription drugs.
The list is an extensive one and it is not possible to do more than highlight a few of them here. These, however, are herbs that can be easily grown, or will be found wild, in most places.
This is often found as a house plant and is typified by its thick succulent leaves. It is an excellent plant to use for soothing burns and certain types of skin condition such as eczema, pimples etc. To use, simply cut a leaf and apply the gel-like sap to the affected area.
We know Angelica best for the candied stems used in cakes and for other flavouring. However, it makes an excellent tea for treating feverish colds.
Borage grows wild in much of North America and Europe but can also be cultivated. The young leaves can be used in summer salads and drinks but its medicinal properties can be best used by making an infusion or tea. Put 2 teaspoons of dried borage into 1 cup of boiling water and infuse for 10 - 15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day as an anti inflammatory.
Burdock grows wild and, at season's end, produces those seeds that stick so annoyingly to clothes when walking through the woods. Its root, however, is the source of one of the best blood purifiers. Boil 25 grams (1 oz.) of burdock root with 1? pints of water until the liquid is reduced to 1 pint. Drink a wine glassful 4 times a day before meals.
Chamomile tea can now be purchased in health food stores and even in general grocery stores and it is used to help with insomnia, anxiety or migraines. It is also very good in the treatment of sore throat, gingivitis and gastritis. Drink the tea throughout the day. For treatment of inflamed and sore eyes, use the cooled chamomile tea bags and place over the closed eyes for 30 minutes.
Comfrey is much used to maintain health in animals and cows, especially, will demolish a stand of comfrey in short order. It is, however, also excellent as an expectorant for bronchitis and irritable coughs and can soothe inflamed gastric and duodenal ulcers. Add 1 to 3 teaspoons of dried comfrey to 1 cup of water, bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and drink three times a day until the condition eases.
This plant is part of the Chrysanthemum family and is excellent for the treatment of migraine, headaches and rheumatism. For headaches and migraine an infusion of both the leaves and the flowers should be used while, for rheumatism, the infusion of flowers alone is required.
The leaves of lemon balm can be used to repel mosquitoes and other flying insects. The juice from the leaves is good fro treating insect bites.
This can be purchased as a small plant and grown at home. A tea made from the leaves and flowers is good in the treatment of coughs and colds.
Rosemary oil can be purchased from health food stores, pharmacies and aromatherapy specialists. It can help relaxation and is supposed to be good for rheumatism. A tea, made from the leaves, is good for curing indigestion.
Well known as a flavouring for food and in stuffings for poultry, sage is also good for treating colds and the ?flu' Make a tea using the leaves (quantity depends on taste) and drink three times a day.
We are missing only parsley for Simon and Garfunckel's Scarborough Fair and thyme is another of those kitchen favourites. It is also excellent as a cough treatment and suppressant and should be used in tea form.
Organic, OTC treatments for sleeplessness and stress will almost always include valerian as an ingredient. A tea made from the leaves is an excellent drink last thing at night.
This is just a sample of the wide range of medicinal and helpful herbs. Many of them are now on sale in different forms in pharmacies and health food stores and you can take advantage of their healing properties without having to do much of your own preparation. Talk to the pharmacist or health store operator and seek advice.
As with any medication, practice moderation and, if you are taking other medication, consult your physician before embarking on any herb related medication regimen.