I have used herbs and essential oils to support my health for many years. I became interested in using herbs medicinally as a hobby. I enjoyed it so much, I ended up taking a year-long apprenticeship and becoming a certified herbalist. I learned to use herbs not only for culinary purposes, but as natural medicine and in beauty products. That’s how I fell in love with herbs and have utilized the healing power of mother nature ever since. There are many ways to use herbs to support health, but these are the major ways that I use them:
Teas – making or buying herbal teas can be a lot of fun. My favorite tea blend is a combination of spearmint, chamomile and lemon balm. If you do not like mint, hibiscus or rose petals can be substituted. This particular tea can make you feel nice and relaxed after a long day or week (use in place of cocktails!).
Tinctures – also known as herbal extracts, tinctures are very easy to make yourself or buy at an herbal supply store. Herbal extracts are herbs that have been cut up finely and either placed in alcohol or glycerine as a base. The herbs are eventually strained out and the extract put into dispensing bottles. Tinctures are used very sparingly as they are potent. The best way I have found to use them is to put them in tea. Be sure to consult the directions as each type of tincture is unique. A wonderful company to purchase them from is Mountain Rose Herbs. You can find them at www.mountainroseherbs.com
Culinary – I grow a number of fresh herbs during the summer and winter to use in cooking. My favorite herb is rosemary. I have a rosemary plant in the house all winter and use it on lamb, chicken and in sauces.
During the summer, lemon thyme, parsley, chives, cilantro, basil, and rosemary are placed around my patio. They not only taste great, they smell wonderful as well. Two great ways to use lemon thyme in cooking include: on seafood, in chowders and on chicken. Rosemary is great with lamb, chicken and does wonders for pot roast. Chive flowers can be used in salads for both flavor and decoration.
I love cilantro, parsley and chives in salad. Basil is a wonderful addition to sauces (especially homemade tomato sauce). There are many types of basil to try including sweet basil, thai basil, lime basil and my favorite African blue basil.
Essential Oils – The most important thing to remember when using essential oils for aromatherapy or in food/tea is to dilute them properly and use them sparingly. Some great essential oils to start with include:
|Clary Sage||Relaxation, insomnia, clear skin|
|Cinnamon||Respiratory health, digestive health, relaxation|
|Rose Geranium||Hormone balance, beautiful skin, anxiety, acne|
|Rosemary||Antiviral, reduces joint inflammation, hair growth|
|Peppermint||Reduces anxiety, pain, helps to improve memory|
|Tea Tree||Itchy skin, heals infections, antifungal|
You can add a few drops of essential oil to a carrier oil such as grapeseed or sweet almond oil for a nice moisture or massage oil; put essential oils into an aromatherapy atomizer in your home or put a few drops of bergamot or peppermint in your tea. Relax and enjoy!