Herb Basics

A Place to Start

| September/October 2005


Raw garlic may provide the best health benefits, but many people have trouble digesting the herb in its raw form. Another good option is to roast garlic, which, although it lacks some of raw garlic’s potent healing power, is delicious, healthy and much easier on your stomach.

Roasted garlic is tasty spread on crusty breads or used along with lemon juice in salad dressings. It’s also nice in pesto and other sauces.

To make roasted garlic, select 6 to 8 heads of garlic. Break off loose skins, but don’t peel or separate cloves. Rub heads generously with olive oil. Place in a small skillet or ovenproof pan and arrange small sprigs of bay, oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme around garlic. Add white wine or chicken broth so garlic heads are about halfway submerged. Cover and cook over low heat if using a skillet; or cover and bake in a 350-degree oven until very soft. Baste often, adding more wine or broth if needed.

After roasting, the cooked garlic heads should be very soft and easily mashed or pureed. The garlic will easily slide out of its skin.


Ayurveda, a 5,000-year-old East Indian healing system, is thought to be the world’s oldest system of medicine. Ayurvedic practitioners — who aim to create health by nurturing the body, mind and spirit — commonly recommend the following four herbs:

Ashwaganda (Withania somnifera). With a name that means “the strength of 10 horses,” this herb rejuvenates the nervous system and is said to provide the vitality and energy of a horse. It’s also used in treating immune disorders.

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