I'm sorry I've been gone for so long. I've been quite the busy bee, but promise to be more chatty from now on! It's pretty chilly outside, so I've been enjoying the herbs in my kitchen - patiently waiting for spring to come. I realized that I had way more peppermint than I needed and decided to make some Mint jelly (post coming soon). Mint is one of my favorite medicinal herbs. Medicinal herbs are plants that have been used for medicinal purposes. People have been using herbal medicine way before recorded history. Here are my 4 other favorite medicinal herbs.
Elderberry • Sambucus nigra
This water-loving medicinal plant provides goodness through its fruit and flowers. Elderberry has clusters of dark purple fruit and small white flowers. Many use it during cold and flu season for its antiviral properties, ability to break a fever and clear up mucus. I love making elderberry honey, tinctures, and syrup. That way I can easily take a spoonful here - take a couple drops there... It also makes for a great addition to teas. Elderberries are relatively easy to get. You can purchase some dried berries here from Mountain Rose Herbs.
Peppermint • Mentha piperita
This crazy-awesome medicinal plant is well known for its delicious scent. While it shares properties with the rest of the Mentha group, I find the stronger scent and taste to be more to my liking. Peppermint is known to sometimes be invasive, but I love it and use it so much, I don't really mind. It's a perennial, meaning that it grows back each year -so there are some nice savings involved. The green leaves can be used for teas, honey, tinctures, and much much more. Peppermint tea is typically used for its calming effect and ability to get rid of digestive issues. I personally use it for those reasons, to get rid of headaches, and to sooth me when I catch a cold. It's easy-peasy to grow from seed or raise from a small plant. If you're worried about the peppermint spread, just try growing it in a container.
Lavender • Lavandula angustifolia.
Lavender is also well known for its popular scent. The calming aroma of its leaves and small purple flowers has made this plant famous in the cleaning and laundry aisle. While very useful for making rooms and clothes smell nice, lavender has also been used for its antimicrobial and antiviral properties, along with its ability to soothe and uplift people. Like the elderberry plant, I like to make lavender honey and use it in my tea. I also find it to be particularly awesome in herbal pillows for when I have a banging headache. Another nice way I use of lavender is to diffuse its essential oil when I can't seem to relax. Lavender can easily be grown from seed and can do well indoors as long as you give it decent lighting.
Rose • Rosa spp.
Roses are red, roses are pink, roses are much more awesome than you'd think ;-). I don't think roses get as much credit as they deserve. We think of the red roses picked up for Valentine's Day or a birthday. But roses can be used for much more. One of my favorite uses for rose oil is to get its beautiful, calming effect during aromatherapy. Rose petals, leaves, and, rosehips are commonly used in antibacterial and antiviral blends and in tonics for the skin. This is no doubt, in part, due to their high content of the cold fighting Vitamin C. A well known facial toner can be made from a mixture of rosewater and witch hazel. One of my favorite teas includes rose hips and rose petals, as well. Using rose in or on my body just makes me feel more beautiful :) If you're going to use rose in your different solutions, make sure that you're getting unadulterated rose. No one wants icky stuff moving through and on their body. If I can't grow my own, I generally use products from Mountain Rose Herbs.
Feverfew • Tanacetum parthenium
While not the tastiest addition to my tea, feverfew is beautiful and has helped relieve my headaches and general cold symptoms. Some folks take it for reducing fevers, regulating their periods, nausea and psoriasis. It's even been used to relieve itching caused by bug bites. It's pretty simple to grow from seed and looks similar to a daisy. You can order seeds here.
What are your favorite herbs and what do you use them for?
Disclaimer: What I've written is based on herbal medicine study and experience. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.