If you are looking to relieve stress during the holiday season, look no further than your herb garden. Even if you don’t have an herb garden, growing potted rosemary, lavender or scented geranium indoors can help you stay stress-free thanks to aromatherapy, the art of using aromatic essential oils. Using scented herbs in potpourri, bath bags or simmering spices can help you boost your energy, keep you calm and relaxed, or get you some rest whenever you need it the most. Here are a couple of the best seasonal scents.
BASIL: Even though it may not be a traditional holiday herb or scent, you can use the fresh or dried form of basil (Ocimum basilicum) to help reduce mental fatigue and clear your mind. Inhaling the fragrance helps you to remain calm and ease your nervousness.
Warning: Do not use basil essential oil internally.
Basil Bath Bag
I found this Basil Bath Bag recipe in The Basil Book by Marilyn Hampstead. It is a great idea to clean out your kitchen cupboards and enjoy an herbal bath in the process. If the flavors of the herbs are not strong, they should no longer be used for culinary purposes, but are still great candidates for the bath bags. She cautions not to use peppers in the blends or turmeric (which is a yellow dye, as is saffron). I personally would not use any herb blends that would have garlic in them, but that’s just me.
• 1 cup crushed dried basil
• 1 cup mixed kitchen herb and spice discards
• 1 orange, or 2 lemon peels
• 18-inch by 18-inch muslin, or large handkerchief
• Rubber band, twist tie, string, or 1 clean knee-high stocking
1. Place dried herbs and citrus peel in the middle of the fabric square and grab edges to make a pouch and tie securely, or place herbs and peels into the knee-high stocking and knot the open end.
2. Fasten your bath bag to the bathtub faucet and turn on the water. Let the tub fill slowly and allow the herbs to steep. Then get in and soak. Unfasten the bath bag and use as a gentle skin massager. You want to make sure that the bag is securely fastened because it is not fun cleaning up two cups of herbs in your tub or on your body.
CINNAMON: Use cinnamon sticks (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) rather than the ground cinnamon to give you a burst of energy when you need it.
Warning: Cinnamon essential oil is very irritating and should never be used on the skin.
Marge Clark’s Simmering Citrus Potpourri
This aromatic potpourri is from Marge Clark's book Christmas Thyme at Oak Hill Farm. Even though this is one of my favorite Christmas books, I think you will enjoy this for Thanksgiving as well. Your home will smell wonderful with the scent of citrus and spice.
• 1 cup dried, cut-up orange peel
• 1/2 cup dried, cut-up lemon peel
• 1/2 cup cinnamon stick pieces
• 1/2 cup whole allspice
• 1/4 cup whole cloves
• 1/4 cup anise seed
• 1/2 tablespoon coriander seed (optional)
• 1/2 cup bay leaves
• 1 teaspoon orange oil
1. Mix all ingredients together, then store in an air-tight container. Give this as a hostess or a holiday gift.
2. To use, simmer 1 cup water with 3 tablespoons potpourri in a pan or potpourri burner. Don’t let the water evaporate. Keep filling the container with water.
Make this herbal Thanksgiving bouquet, from our house to yours!
All Photos By Nancy C. Heraud
Be sure to check out the following links to some of my past holiday blog posts, all of which are Thanksgiving recipes that I use in my home. Hope you enjoy them!
As always, if you have a comment or question about any of my posts, please write to me here or my e-mail at email@example.com and put in the subject line “Herb Comment or Question.” And be sure to visit my blog Lemon Verbena Lady's Herb Garden. Talk to you soon.