Better living through nature
Do you remember that Facebook chain letter called “25 Random Things About Me?” If you don’t, it was a popular trend to write 25 things, facts, habits or goals about yourself on Facebook then publish it so that all your friends can read it, learn something, and create their own! Well, I like the idea but I’ve decided to tweak it a bit and make my own version called "15 Herbs for Me.” In no particular order, here is a list of herbs that interest me.
Photo by Smoobs/Courtesy Flickr
1.) Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). There are fine hairs on the leaves and stems of stinging nettle that contain irritating chemicals that are released when the plant comes into contact with skin. Trust me, I ran through a field of this stuff when I was too young to know any beter, and it wasn’t pleasant. Despite this, nettle is often used to relieve seasonal allergies.
2.) Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). This sweet-smelling purple flowering herb is widely used in perfumes, soaps, shampoos and sachets.
3.) Aloe (Aloe vera). The gel in the inner portion of the leaf is widely used for the treatment of minor skin conditions. I use aloe gel to sooth sunburn and razor burn.
4.) Basil (Ocimum basilicum). The fragrant green leaves of this herb are great in salads and can be used fresh or dry to flavor pasta, stew and poultry.
5.) Artichoke leaves (Cynara). Artichoke extract is useful in support of general liver function and prevention of some digestive disorders.
6.) Chives (Allium schoenoprasum). Add flavor to virtually any dish with chives. I like chives in eggs, on my bagels and of course in baked potatoes.
7.) Alfalfa (Medicago sativa). Contains a high mineral and vitamin content; is rich in protein and calcium. Alfalfa seeds are useful in the form of sprouts. They are delicious in salads, soups and sandwiches.
8.) Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). If you’re feeling lightheaded and out of sorts, this herb is used to enhance cognitive functions and give you a little energy boost.
9.) Cayenne (Capsicum annuum). A popular spice used in different regional styles of cooking. Cayenne contains capsaicin, which may be used to reduce pain and inflammation caused by injury.
10.) Arnica (Arnica montana). Applied topically as a cream, gel, ointment, tincture or salve, arnica relieves soreness and reduces swelling. I’ve used arnica on my ankles after a good workout to reduce inflammation and relieve any pain.
11.) Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba). This herb is used to treat altitude sickness and headaches because of its ability to increase blood flow to the brain.
12.) Shiitake (Lentinula edodes). Shiitake mushrooms are packed with iron and vitamin C. I like the rich flavor of these mushrooms in a spicy stir fry or in some miso soup.
13.) Garlic (Allium sativum). It’s been called the “stinking rose” in light of its many benefits. Garlic is rich in manganese, a good source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C.
14). German chamomile (Matricaria recutita). Known for it’s mild sedating effects and widely used in herbal teas.
15.) Catnip, catmint (Nepeta cataria). Cats have a bizarre reaction to catnip. But why? According to Arthur O. Tucker and Sharon S. Tucker, authors of “Catnip and the Catnip Response,” the chemical nepetalactone in catnip is the thing that triggers the unique sequence of responses in domestic cats.
Is their a particular herb that interests you? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment!
• Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth by Dr. Sharol Marie Tilgner (Wise Acres LLC, 2009)
• Catnip and the Catnip Response by Arthur O. Tucker and Sharon S. Tucker (Springer New York, 1988)