Welcome to my Hub Page that is all about herbs! Herbs are nature's first aid box as well as being every cook's most treasured accomplice to their culinary secrets. They are versatile, health bringing and flavoursome in all kinds of foods, desserts and candies.
This hub page will include an extensive overview of the more commonly found herbs and give a brief description of both the health benefits and culinary uses of these marvels of the plant kingdom!As there are so many different ways in which to use some of the herns listed here both from a culinary and a health aspect,
it would be too much to add it all in one hub page or you'll be falling asleep trying to read it all. I'll therefore be breaking things up in future hub pages that can focus more on each individual herb, in the near future.
Herbs for Health
This chapter introduces some of the more commonly used herbs for healing and general health. The information comes from a variety of sources including those online such as wikipedia and several published books on the subject as well as my own accumulated knowledge gained over several decades.
The Latin name saliva means to save, and sage has been used as a healing herb since the earliest times. It is a strong antiseptic and a powerful anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral herb making it an excellent healing plant.
Sage is known to have antioxidant properties, which makes it a good natural weapon in the fight against free radicals in the body which cause cancer.
It is also known to have memory boosting properties, similar to rosemary and has been used in trials in the fight against Alzheimer's disease.
Latin name Rosmarinus officinalis, the common rosemary is known as a memory enhancing and attention sharpening herb. It is
Rosemary can be made into a tea by infusing the young tops, leaves and flowers. When taken warm is a said to be a good remedy for headaches, colic, colds and nervous diseases. It also acts as as an antispasmodic.
Its latin name is thymus vulgaris and is a common herb found all over the world. The oil that is extracted from the plant is much more concentrated when the plant lives in poor soil and gets little water. Thyme is one of nature's most potent anti-microbials as well as being a powerful stimulant. Its ability to support and protect a person's immune system is unequaled by any other aromatic oil.
A diffusion of thyme into the atmosphere is said to be beneficial in treating and bringing relief from symptoms of bronchitis, sinusitis, pneumonia, cough, colds and influenza.
Lemon balm, its Latin name being Melissa officinalis, is well known for its calming properties and has long been used as an aid to sleeping. It is most effective when mixed with Valerian root or hops for reducing anxiety and promoting sleep.
Studies suggest that topical ointments that contain lemon balm may assist with healing lip sores that are associated with the herpes simplex virus (HSV).
The lowly dandelion (latin name Taraxacum officinale), bane of many a "perfect lawn" enthusiast is actually a highly nutritious plant.
Historically, the dandelion plant was used to treat liver and kidney diseases along with problems related to the spleen. Dandelion has been used in the treatment of digestive problems and skin conditions.
The common weed we know as the stinging nettle (Latin name, urtica dioica) is actually a vitamin and mineral packed food source that is often overlooked because of the painful stingers on the stem and on the underside of the leaves. These stingers are rendered ineffective when dried or boiled.
The entire plant is anti-asthmatic, anti-dandruff, astringent, depurative, diuretic, galactogogue, haemostatic, hypoglycemic and a stimulating tonic. The juice made from the nettle can be used as an antidote to stings from its own leaves.
An infusion made from fresh nettle leaves is healing and soothing as a lotion for burns.
The Latin name for this common weed known as horseradish is Armoracia rusticana. It has some useful healing properties when either taken internally or externally as a poultice.
Horseradish is known to have diuretic properties. The roots can be used to treat various minor health problems, such as urinary tract infections, bronchitis, sinus congestion, and coughs. Certain compounds found in horseradish are known to kill some bacterial strains.
Garlic is a multi-use plant that has some incredible healing qualities. It is both anti-bacterial and anti-viral meaning that it can be used to effectively treat both bacterial and viral infections. It is best eaten raw to gain the maximum benefit, as cooking robs garlic of many of its healing properties.
Fresh stem ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and so is a useful plant to have handy especially for arthritis sufferers. It is also warming and calming, antibacterial and antiviral making it good for treating colds and sore throats, especially when mixed together with lemon and honey in a hot drink.
This list is not only growing over time, but also the information for each her is being added to as this hub evolves.
Herbs for Cooking
Here we'll look at the culinary uses for the more commonly found herbs.
Sage is a common partner for onion in stuffings, but has other culinary uses too. It can be used with other herbs such as rosemary and thyme to flavour casseroles and some pasta sauces.
Rosemary is the traditional accompaniment to roast lamb, but can also be used extensively in tomato based sauces for pasta dishes and pestos.
Thyme is most often used with meat dishes, but is also very useful as an accompaniment to rosemary in tomato based pasta sauces.
Oregano or marjoram (the annual version of this plant) are both popular herbs for tomato based pasta sauces. It also peps up stir fried vegetables or meat and can flavour casseroles, soups and stews.
Basil has similar uses to oregano and is one of the best known tomato accompaniments.
Mint is another traditional herb used with roast lamb when mixed with vinegar to make the popular mint sauce. however, mint has many other uses in the kitchen. There are several different types of mint, the main ones being peppermint, spearmint, apple mint and pennyroyal, each having its own unique minty flavour and aroma.
It can be roughly chopped and added to boiled new potatoes, or chopped into salads, stews and soups. It can also be candied and the oil of the peppermint made into the popular sweets of the same name.
Lemon balm leaves when roughly chopped can be used for stuffing fish such as trout that can then be wrapped in foil and put on the barbecue. It also has its place in some dishes that require a hint lemon,such as some pasta sauces and can be added to salads to add some extra zing!
Dandelion leaves tend to be bitter when taken straight from the wild plant, but leaves can be blanched in advance and then chopped into salads or stews as a potherb.
The root can be dried and ground to make a caffeine-free coffee substitute.
The stinging nettle is packed with goodness and makes the well known nettle soup. Chopped leaves are a perfect addition to vegetable stews and can also be infused to make the tonic and refreshing nettle tea.
The young leaves only should be used for cooking and traditionally the plants should only be used for food before the end of June, after which they become laxative!
Horseradish sauce is the traditional accompaniment to roast beef, but a rough sauce made from freshly grated root, a little sugar and vinegar is also very tasty when adde to a ham sandwich!
Garlic is used extensively in cooking as a flavouring and preservative. Used heavily in Asian cooking, especially Indian, Thai and Chinese as well as Mediterranean dishes especially from Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey.
Garlic should be used raw and chopped, not crushed to preserve its health giving qualities. It adds flavour to salads and soups as well as sauces of all kinds.
Ginger is used as a strong flavouring in Asian cooking such as Indian, Thai and Chinese.
It is used in baking cakes and biscuits for its distinctive flavour and can also be candied (crystalised ginger) and covered in rich dark Belgian chocolate for a totally decadent moment! Ginger can also be made into the popular ginger beer drink (either alcoholic or non-alcoholic) as well as a refreshing ginger tea.
For a more comprehensive and informative resource on herbs and spices, Spice Nest is curently building into an authority website on the subject.
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