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What is an Herb?

We always like to focus on a particular subject for each Newsletter that goes out every month. This month, we decided that April would be all about herbs. So, as I began digging into this subject at the nursery and researching each herb. I began to  realize how extremely fascinating they are. I also realized I didn’t fully understand what an herb is. I know I like to cook with them, I know how to pair them with yummy meats but that was about it.  I soon realized herbs were much bigger than what I ever imagined.  So I dared to ask the question “What makes a plant an herb”?

At first, I was incredibly intimidated because I thought the answer was going to be too complex. Luckily, to my surprise  it was rather simple. You see there is no number of how many plants are considered herbs.

That statement alone made me become extremely captivated and very curious as to what research we have on certain herbs. That is when I decided I needed to share and hopefully inspire you to research for yourself to get a better understanding of herbs for when you are cooking or when you have an ache or two.  I have put together a list of Herbs and what we know as to why they are herbs. Feel free to share away and feel free to start researching for yourself all the good that herbs can do for you. Also please note and this is very important always, rely on conventional medicine for emergency treatment. If this type of care is available, use it. When a health condition is an immediate threat, go to the hospital not your garden. 

cilantro

Cilantro

Let’s start with one of my favorite culinary herbs. Cilantro! I use this herb a lot. In my pinto beans, in my guacamole, in my rice, on my chicken etc..etc. Can you tell I am Hispanic? I never thought Cilantro could be used for anything other than food. However, I discovered that many people use Cilantro medicinally and also use it in perfumes. Apparently,  it has a very calming effect and is used for aroma therapy.

The most amazing research that has been done on Cilantro is, it is very effective for toxic metal cleansing. This herb is a powerful, natural cleansing agent. How cool is that?  The chemical compounds in cilantro attache to toxic metals and loosen them from the tissue. Many people suffering from mercury exposure notice a reduction of feeling of disorientation after consuming large and regular amounts of cilantro over an extended period. Amazing!  Check out Omura Y, Beckman SL. Role of mercury (Hg) in resistant infections & effective treatment of Chlamydia trachomatis and Herpes family viral infections (and potential treatment for cancer) by removing localized Hg deposits with Chinese parsley and delivering effective antibiotics using various drug uptake enhancement methods.Acupunct Electrother Res. 1995 Aug-Dec;20(3-4):195-229. to learn more about this research.

vicks plant

Vick’s Plant

Next on my list is Vick’s plant. This plant can be boiled in water and when inhaled can open up the lungs and nasal passages. The leaves can also be crushed and put into oil or petroleum jelly and rub on areas of the body that are sore. However, never use this treatment on open sores or cuts. Vick’s plant is also a Mosquito repellent. So just rubbing the leaves on your skin could possibly prevent mosquitos from eating you alive.

 

On to the next one,

red Hyssop White hyssop Blue hyssop

Hyssop herb is considered to be a sacred herb. It is an herb that is mentioned in the bible several times. This herb name is of the greek origin. It was used in cleaning sacred places such as when Christ was crucified. There are three types of Hyssop known by their red, blue and white flowers. Hyssop makes an aromatic tea from the fresh or dried leaves and flowers that eases with digestion. The fresh leaves are also a yummy and color booster to   salads.  A tea or tincture blend  (liquid extracts made from herbs that you take orally) of anise hyssop and hyssop combined soothes and helps to heal irritated lung tissue during a respiratory infection. I included a recipe to try out.

 

RECIPE FOR HYSSOP TEA
‘Infuse a quarter of an ounce of dried hyssop flowers in a pint of boiling water for ten minutes; sweeten with honey, and take a wine glassful three times a day, for debility of the chest. It is also considered a powerful vermifuge.’ (Old Cookery Book.)

 

We are just getting started:

 

sweet-marjoram

Sweet marjoram

Sweet marjoram, also known as knotted marjoram, is one of the most popular Mediterranean herbs grown for its culinary and medicinal values.  It has delicate sweet-flavor, and subtle yet(spicy) taste.. The herb contains many notable phyto-nutrients ( a substance found in certain plants which is believed to be beneficial to human health and help prevent various diseases.) In case you were wondering what that word meant and also includes minerals, and vitamins that are essential for health and wellness. Sweet marjoram is one of the richest herbal sources for vitamin K.  Vitamin-K has a potential role in bone mass building by promoting osteotropic (Describing any drug etc. that is attracted to, and targets bone) Another word you might have wanted to completely understand so I added the definition. It also has established role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease by limiting neuronal damage in the brain. What an amazing find and holistic approach to treating Alzheimer’s disease.

The More I research and begin to discover all of the uses for herbs makes me appreciate what I do and where I work. Let me continue,

 

lavender fieldLavender, is very well known. I am pretty sure you have come across its scent in various soaps and candles and perfumes. It is known for it’s aroma therapy. But that is just hitting the surface. Internally, Lavender is believed to be of benefit for so many  problems, including stress, anxiety, exhaustion, irritability, headaches, migraines, insomnia, depression, colds, digestion, flatulence, upset stomach, liver and gallbladder problems, nervousness, loss of appetite, and as a breath freshener and mouthwash. Wow, talk about a herb for lots of aliments.  For inhalation purposes, boil 2 cups of water, add 2 drops of essential oil, and inhale the steam and exhale the stress. Externally, Lavender oil is the safest essential oil and can be used full-strength on the skin. According to research it works so well and can be applied directly to your cuts, scrapes, wounds, burns, bee, wasp, and insect stings, rashes, muscle aches, rheumatism, arthritis, cold sores, canker sores, blisters, bruises, athlete’s foot, and massaged directly into the temples during headache or migraine issues. You will need to do more research because this herb is the herb to really know and fully utilize.

 

ChamomilleThe Chamomile plant’s healing properties come from its daisy-like flowers, which contain Essential oils. Chamomile has been used forever in teas as a mild, relaxing sleep aid, treatment for fevers, colds, stomach ailments, and as an anti-inflamatory, to name only a few therapeutic uses. Chamomile may be used internally or externally. Extensive scientific research over the past 20 years has confirmed many of the traditional uses for the plant, including antipeptic, antispasmodic, antipyretic, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-allergenic activity. I have included all of the definitions to all of those A words. Because if you are like me, i had to look up at least 3 of those words.

antipeptic: Inhibiting Pepsin which is the chief digestive enzyme in the stomach, which breaks down proteins into polypeptides which are a linear organic polymer consisting of a large number of amino-acid residues bonded together in a chain, forming part of (or the whole of) a protein molecule.

antispasmodic: used to relieve spasm of involuntary muscle.

antipyretic: used to prevent or reduce fever.

Now that we know what those words mean, you can see now how amazing chamomile is for so many reasons.

 

mint (1)Ok last on my list for today is Mint. Mint has incredible culinary uses. I could post a million recipes but you can easily Google that. I specifically, want to address spearmint and peppermint. Both of which are very yummy and added to so many products.  Peppermint leaf tea is used to treat indigestion, nausea, diarrhea, colds, headache and cramps.  Peppermint and spearmint are known to restore the functions of the stomach, promotes digestion, stops vomiting, cures the hiccups, flatulent colic, hysterical depressions, and other such complaints. The fresh herb was thought to be especially useful in treating Cholera in children. Packaged herbal teas are available in any supermarket. However you are a gardener who should be growing tons of herbs so it is simple to prepare teas from dried or fresh mint leaves that you’ve grown yourself or purchased in bulk. To make two cups of tea, place 2 teaspoons of dried mint leaf (or 2 tablespoons of fresh) in a tea ball, place the ball in a heated teapot, pour in 2 cups of boiling water, and steep, covered, for 10 minutes.

 

Well it is a start- just a beginning but I feel more informed and have a better understanding as to how incredible herbs really are. I will be trying a few of these remedies and maybe write an article based on my own personal findings as to if it works. Feel free to come by the nursery and visit our Herb area. We have just about everything you could think of. I feel inspired to pick out several different herbs and have a container garden on my back porch. I hope you are feeling inspired too.

 

 

Please note: The information provided is for educational purposes and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a qualified health-care practitioner.