There are two categories of herbs that you should know.
1. Herbs that are used for medical purposes.
2. Herbs that are used in preparing meals.
Herbs in general have a long history of being able to heal different diseases and in some cultures this still is true. Even though herbs seem like they can cure everything, you still have to be aware of the dangers.
Over the years, herbs that are used as medicine have grown in popularity. There are thousands of herbal supplements to choose from that help prevent and treat a boat-load of diseases, including heart disease, cancer, arthritis, low immunity, depression, common colds, and menopausal issues. But with such an overwhelming amount of products to choose from how do you know which ones to choose?
If you’re interested in or do take any herbal products here’s a quick checklist that will help you make the right and healthy decision.
- Teas are the least expensive and mildest; best choice if you have poor digestion.
- Tinctures are the strongest with the longest shelf life and you can absorb them easily.
- Capsules are convenient, but have a shorter shelf life. Make sure you check the expiration dates.
- Tablets mask the taste of herbs, but binders and fillers might weaken the medicine.
- Standardized herbs come in many forms, but are often expensive. Potency is assured.
- Start with lowest suggested dose.
- You should drink teas and tinctures on an empty stomach for better absorption.
- Capsules and tablets should be taken with meals.
- And remember if you’re unsure of anything get some help from your doctor.
The other type of herb we’ll take a look at is the herbs you use in your cooking – also called “culinary herbs”.
Culinary herbs are not as potent as herbs used in medicine, but many have some positive health benefits. They provide you with a wide variety of active phytochemicals that support your health and protect against chronic diseases. Here’s a list of some of the popular herbs used when cooking and preparing meals.
- Basil. A mainstay in many dishes, basil is also used in larger quantities as a tonic and cold remedy.
- Chives. These tiny onion relatives contain sulfur compounds that may lower blood pressure if eaten in large amounts.
- Coriander. Pungent fresh leaves or seeds may be chewed to ease indigestion.
- Dill. Widely used in pickles, salad dressings, and fish dishes, dill is also eaten to alleviate intestinal gas. Europeans often give babies weak dill tea to relieve colic.
- Mint. Chewing the leaves can freshen breath; mint tea is a digestive aid.
- Oregano. Brewed as tea, it is said to aid digestion and alleviate the congestion.
- Parsley. When consumed in portions of at least 1 oz (30 g), this herb contains useful amounts of vitamin C (fresh parsley only), calcium, iron, and potassium. Parsley is also high in bioflavonoids, monoterpenes, and other anticancer compounds.
- Rosemary. Its leaves contain an oil used in liniments to relieve muscle aches. Rosemary tea is said to alleviate headaches.
- Sage. Sage tea can be used as a digestive aid; as a mouthwash or gargle to ease painful gums, mouth ulcers, or sore throat. Some research indicates that sage oil can boost acetylcholine levels in the brain, improving memory.
- Thyme. Brewed as tea to quiet irritable bowels, as a gargle for a sore throat, or as syrup for a cough or congestion.
What kind of herbs do you enjoy using or adding to your meals?