Mother Earth Living

Herb Basics

A Place to Start
November/December 2006

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Thanks to an abundance of fall and winter root vegetables, this stock has a beautiful deep color and a complex flavor.

Makes 1 gallon

2 red onions, papery skin removed, coarsely chopped
1 yellow onion, papery skin removed, coarsely chopped
6 to 8 shallots, papery skin removed, coarsely chopped
1 bunch celery, washed and coarsely chopped, including base
1 head garlic, cloves separated and cut in half, including skin
4 carrots, tops discarded, scrubbed and coarsely chopped
2 parsnips, tops discarded, scrubbed and coarsely chopped
2 turnips, tops discarded, scrubbed and coarsely chopped
1 pound mushrooms, coarsely chopped
4 to 6 sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, including stems
4 bay leaves
2 stems fresh thyme
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

Place all ingredients in a large stockpot (or two) and add enough filtered water to cover by 2 inches, leaving a few inches at the top of the pot so the stock doesn’t boil over.

Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for at least 1 hour (the longer you simmer, the more concentrated the flavor).

Cool and strain the stock through a sieve or strainer. Press with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible.

Once the stock has cooled completely, store in sealed glass jars in the refrigerator for three to four days, or in sealed containers or freezer bags in the freezer for six to eight weeks.

Source: Loux, Renée. The Balanced Plate: The Essential Elements of Whole Foods and Good Health. Emmaus, Pennsylvania: Rodale, 2006.


The early winter is a good time to take advantage of foods that warm the body. Food has a thermal nature — either warming, cooling or neutral. Once food has been digested, it can change the body temperature, either by moving energy upward and outward from the center of the body to the extremities (warming), or by directing energy inward and downward, cooling the upper and outer parts of the body. Warming Foods

Source: Walters, Louisa, et al. Blissful Detox: Over 100 Simply Delicious Cleansing Recipes. San Diego, California: Laurel Glen, 2001.


You’ve heard of probiotics — but what about prebiotics? Prebiotics are saccharide (sugar) molecules that researchers initially developed as potential low-calorie sweeteners; eventually, however, it became apparent that these molecules could play an important role in health maintenance. Like probiotics, they acidify the intestinal environment, enhancing the absorption of essential minerals. Prebiotics also nourish “good” bacteria while promoting a reduction in disease-causing coltridia, klebsiella and enterobacter bacteria. Prebiotics work synergistically with probiotics; take them together for best results (together, they are called synbiotics).

Foods High in Prebiotic Content

• Asparagus
• Bananas
• Burdock root
• Chicory root
• Eggplant
• Garlic
• Green tea
• Honey
• Legumes
• Onions
• Soybeans
• Whole wheat
• Yogurt

Source: Lipski, Elizabeth. Digestive Wellness For Children: How to Strengthen the Immune System & Prevent Disease Through Healthy Digestion. Laguna Beach, California: Basic Health Publications, 2006.


Common names: Juniper, common juniper

Latin name: Juniperus communis

Family: Cupressaceae

Part used: Berries

Medicinal uses: Juniper often is used in tea form to ease the discomfort of urinary tract infections, due to the herb’s powerful antiseptic, diuretic and cleansing properties. The herb also warms and settles the digestive tract. Herbalists recommend juniper for cystitis, gout and weak digestion. A tincture of the herb sometimes is used externally to lessen the pain and inflammation of sore rheumatic joints.

Forms commonly used: Capsules, tablets, tinctures, tea

Side effects: According to the Botanical Safety Handbook (CRC Research Press, 1997), juniper should not be used during pregnancy nor by individuals with inflammatory kidney disease. In his book 101 Medicinal Herbs (Interweave, 1998), Steven Foster writes that diabetics should be aware that ingesting juniper berries can raise their glucose levels.

Notes: Juniper berries are best known for giving gin its distinctive, astringent flavor. In fact, the word “gin” is derived from the French word for juniper berry, genièvre, which is the name for gin in France.

Juniper shrubs, which are small to medium evergreens, grow in dry areas. The plant is found in Europe, southwestern Asia and parts of eastern North America, although most of the commercial supply comes from eastern and northern Europe. The shrubs have sharp needles and blue-black berries, which are gathered when ripe in the fall.

To make juniper tea, steep 1 teaspoon juniper berries in 6 cups freshly boiled water for 20 minutes; strain and drink 1/2 cup of tea several times daily. If you’d prefer to use the tincture, take 20 to 30 drops with a little water several times daily, or follow manufacturers’ instructions.

Juniper sprigs, thrown into a fire, were once thought to ward against evil spirits. Europeans burned the plant to ward off the plague. During World War II, nurses burned it in hospital rooms for fumigation.


Herbal teas are wonderful for relaxation and for their healing benefits, especially at this time of year. Herbalist, teacher and tea aficionado Brigitte Mars, in her book Healing Herbal Teas, offers some other creative suggestions:

• Use tasty herbal teas to make ice cubes.

• Add herbal tea to cider or fruit juice.

• Add herbal tea to carbonated water for mildly fizzy drinks.

• Add herbal tea to wine to make a healthier sangria.

• Use herbal tea, instead of water, in recipes for breads, cakes and cookies. Herbal teas that pair well with baked goods include anise, cardamom, fennel, ginger and peppermint.

• Use honey-sweetened herbal teas to make frozen Popsicle-type treats. (Hibiscus tea makes a pretty red color.)

• Use herbal teas to flavor soups. For example, rosemary tea makes a wonderful base for a vegetable soup.

Source: Mars, Brigitte. Healing Herbal Teas: A Complete Guide to Making Delicious, Healthful Beverages. Laguna Beach, California: Basic Health Publications, 2006.

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