Using Herbs in Medicine and Cooking

Rows of herbs at La Vista
Rows of herbs at La Vista | Source

For thousands of years, herbs have been used to treat and prevent disease as well as to enhance our cooking.

Our farmer’s wife, Crystal, is a master herbalist. Since she and Eric came to La Vista in 2010, Crystal has introduced our shareholders to new herbs and the many ways to use them. She makes medicines in tincture form, as well as uses herbs in balms, salves and teas.

Crystal's herb garden
Crystal's herb garden | Source

Herbs in Tinctures

An herbal tincture or extract is commonly used for various ailments by rubbing it on the skin or taking it as a supplement. You don’t need many supplies to make a tincture but what you do use should be high quality.

· an herb, preferably fresh

· a good alcohol base such as vodka or rum

· a clean wide-mouth jar with tight-fitting lid

· cheesecloth or muslin

The point of a tincture is not to cause drunkenness but to provide the strongest possible concentration of an herb’s healing essence. The water content in fresh herbs will dilute the alcohol so the percentage of alcohol will be lower in the tincture.

Using a ratio of 2:1 herb to alcohol put the herbs in a jar and pour enough alcohol to cover them completely.

Make sure the herbs are completely covered by the alcohol. Cover the jar, shake it, and store it in a cool dark place for up to two weeks. Every once in a while shake the jar. After a couple weeks, strain the tincture through the cloth into another clean jar and store in a cool dry place. Most tincture recipes call for one tablespoon taken at mealtime at least once a day.

Using Herbs in Infusions

Making an infusion is another way to use herbs. The difference between an infusion and a simple tea is that the infusion uses a much larger quantity of herb in the water. Since the minerals and other phytochemicals in nourishing herbs are made more accessible by drying, dried herbs are considered best. You can drink infusions or use them in a poultice, compress, skin wash or sitz baths.

You need:

· one ounce by weight (or about a cup by volume) of dried herb

· a quart jar with a lid

· boiling water

· cheesecloth or muslin

Put the herb in the jar and fill it to the top with boiling water. Cover the jar, let the mixture steep for 4-10 hours and then strain it with the cloth. Drinking 2-4 cups a day is typical.

Herbs and their medicinal and culinary uses

Herb
Medicinal properties
Culinary uses
Basil
Use to relieve colds, flu and digestive upsets.
Use in salads and soups, eat fresh with tomatoes and mozzarella; perfect in tomato sauce.
 
 
 
Cilantro
Use to relieve indigestion and flatulence. Relieves menstrual discomforts. If consumed by breastfeeding mothers, helps to relieve colic.
Great in fresh salsa, chili and Mexican food. Add to salads, soups and veggies wraps
 
 
 
Dill
Rich in mineral salts, dill is useful in a salt-free diet. Dill water is useful for flatulence, indigestion, and colic. Used by breastfeeding mothers to soothe baby.
Use fresh in salads and to flavor soups, meats, fish, potatoes, eggs, and pickles.
 
 
 
Lemon Balm
Called "the elixir of life" lemon balm has aromatic, cooling, sedative properties and acts as a natural insect repellent. It's good for depression and nervousness. Can be used to treat bee and wasp stings.
Make lemon balm tea simply by infusing the leaves in water for a few hours. Use fresh in salads. Add to fish or game.
 
 
 
Mint
Relieves digestive problems and soothes fevers. Has an uplifting aroma
Use in cold summer drinks, add to salads, create mint sauce or jelly.
 
 
 
Oregano
Used to treat arthritis, lung conditions, parasitic and bacterial infections, upset stomach, menstrual problems, and urinary tract problems.
Use in soups, sauces, pasta, and on meats, pizza, and roasted veggies.
 
 
 
Parsley
Aids in digestion, fluid retention, arthritis, and osteoarthritis. Contains vitamins, minerals and iron. Eat fresh leaves for bad breath.
Add raw to salads. Use to flavor soups, egg, potato, and fish dishes.
 
 
 
Sage
Drink sage tea at the first signs of respiratory infections. Effective gargle for sore throats.
Use to flavor meats, cream sauces, and stuffing. Blend chopped sage with cheese or butter.
 
 
 
Summer Savory
Use to soothe digestive problems, menstrual disorders, use to treat wasp and bee stings, loosens congestion
Adds peppery flavor to soups, stews, beans, sauces and meats.
 
 
 
Thyme
Infusion aids in digestion, combine infusion with honey for sore throats and coughs. Helps with asthma.
Use to flavor soups, chicken, fish, and white wine sauces.
 
 
 
The ingredients for making Crystal's herbal lemonade and the finished project.
The ingredients for making Crystal's herbal lemonade and the finished project. | Source

Herbal lemonade

Crystal is "famous" for her herbal lemonade. This is a popular drink that she makes when shareholders get together and at our open houses.

You need:

· water

· ice

· 3 lemons, sliced

· 3 T pure lemon juice (preferably organic)

· 1/16 tsp powdered stevia

· few sprigs of fresh mint

· small bunch of lemon balm

· seasonal edible flowers such as violets and dandelion flowers

Fill a sun tea jar with purified water. Add lemon balm and mint. Let the herbs infuse in the water for an hour or more in a sunny window. Add the stevia and lemon juice. Stir well. Add ice and lemons. Garnish with edible flowers.

Crystal demonstrates making her herbal lemonade

This is one of a series of hubs about La Vista Community Supported Garden in Godfrey, Illinois. I joined La Vista in 2005 and became a member of its board of directors a year later. This series – La Vista: Nurturing land and people – shares the struggles and triumphs of operating a CSA and the benefits of membership. I hope you find this series useful and interesting and, as always, feel free to leave a comment.

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Comments 48 comments

Phil Plasma profile image

Phil Plasma 5 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

I didn't know anything about tinctures before reading your hub, thanks for sharing this. You get a useful and vote up from me.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

Holy Schmoley, girl! This hub ROCKS! Sending it off to FB and hitting up and across. Wealth of info-thoroughly enjoyed.


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks Phil and Dee - Crystal's lemonade makes for an awesome presentation. She's very much the earth mother type with her herbs, everything organic and sweet nature. I've learned a few things from her.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

Cool :)


Sheri Wellen 5 years ago

My garden is overflowing with basil! Now I have other ideas as to what to do with it!


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Hey Sheri, thanks for reading and I hope these help with your basil bumper crop. Long time no see, hope all is going well.


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas

Lots of great, detailed info! Voted up and awesome! :)


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 5 years ago from Midwest

Great hub - I love the layout and how well you explain the tinctures and various herbals. The garden is beautiful. Herbal balms and oils are very fun to make. We do comfrey salve every year to keep on hand and nothing works better. Awesome hub, up useful and beautiful :)


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 5 years ago from South Carolina

Wow! What an awesome hub full of such healthy and useful information. And I loved the photos, especially the one of the ingredients for Crystal's herbal lemonade. It made me feel refreshed just looking at that lovely layout! Voted up in all categories except funny.


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

@justmesuzanne - Thanks for stopping by to read my hub and for the votes.

@Christin - If you're ever out this way and want a tour of La Vista, let me know, I'll arrange it.

@HBN - The lemonade definitely presents beautifully with the lemon slices, herbs and flowers. Thanks for all the votes up!


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

Ah-HAH! So THAT'S what an herbal tincture is! This is a great Hub, and a wonderful resource! I'll have to try out some of these remedies. I've always wondered about the efficacy of such things, and I suppose the only way to really know if they work is to try them on oneself!


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Hi Simone, thanks for stopping by to read my hub! We are so used to reaching for the medicine bottle that we forget herbs were used for medicinal purposes long before the local drugstore came into being.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

A great hub to bookmark for reference--well done!

Voted up and helpful.


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks RTalloni, I appreciate you stopping by to read and comment.


cardelean profile image

cardelean 5 years ago from Michigan

I guess I must have missed this one while I was on vacation but this is fantastic! I'm definitely bookmarking it. And may I be the first to wish you congrats on your hub of the day!!! :)


ShootersCenter profile image

ShootersCenter 5 years ago from Florida

Great hub, I grow my own veggies and herbs but never really thought about medicinal use. Keep up the good work


adeaugustus 5 years ago

Thanks for sharing this, and congratulation on being the hub of the day! Herb as always been the strongest medication in Africa, and it great help can not me under mime, it good of you to realize that. Voted up and useful.


Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 5 years ago from Germany

Congratulation for the hub of the day. This is a great hub and very useful for me as I am interested in any kinds of herbs. Thanks for sharing. Consider bookmark. Voted Up!


BethanRose profile image

BethanRose 5 years ago from South Wales

Such a helpful hub and it really shows that natural things are so beneficial! Thanks! Voted up:)


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 5 years ago from South Carolina

Congratulations on earning the Hub of the Day Award. You did an excellent job on this hub and it's great to see it getting recognition. Also, you know your topic well because of your ongoing involvement with La Vista, its staff and volunteers.


applecsmith profile image

applecsmith 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Congrats on getting featured as the Hub of the Day! Very informative and the lemonade looks delicious. I'll have to try it sometime.

Thanks for sharing!


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 5 years ago from Midwest

Hub of the day! woohoo way to go. This was an excellent hub and a great choice they made to feature it :)


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

Congrats on Hub of the Day for this worthy hub!


hazelbrown profile image

hazelbrown 5 years ago from Central PA

YUM! That herbal lemonade looks AMAZING! Congrats on Hub of the Day!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is a wonderful and very informative hub, Danette, and a great reference source. Congratulations on getting the Hub of the Day award - you certainly deserve it! Voted useful and interesting.


cherylscott profile image

cherylscott 5 years ago from US

Wonderful hub!


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Thank you everyone for your comments and congratulations to me; I appreciate every one of them.

I was pleasantly surprised to get the email that this had been chosen Hub of the Day and I sincerely hope you all do find the information useful and of good value.

I'm coming up to my 1-year mark in a couple months and have found the members of Hub Pages to be very supportive. For that I am grateful as well as for the opportunity to learn new skills here.


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

Congratulations on your Hub of the day recognition. I have never made my own herbal remedy, but I have taken them quite frequently. Echinelin (spelling?) I have taken both in pill form and the tincture form you mention. And herbal tea, well, that is a classic for sure. Not in the morning though, as I need my caffiene and I'm not a coffee drinker unless it is a mocha-love chocolate. I'll have to try the herbal lemonade. I've never made it. will bookmark for future medicinal reference.


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 5 years ago

Awesome Hub, it is very informative. Keep up the good work, and congratulations for being picked as Hub of the Day! :)


kenhubs profile image

kenhubs 5 years ago

You've given us wonderful information in this hub, keep it up. Many people are not aware of the wonders of herbs, fruits and vegetables; especially when you consider today's busy lifestyles and over-dependence on fast foods.


Liola Lee 5 years ago

I am very interested in alternative medicine. My grandfather was a practising G.P (General Practitioner/Doctor) who had an Apothecary attached to the family house. He used to prescribe herbal medicine alongside more conventional treatments. I never knew my grandfather as he died in the late 1920s when my father was just a tiny boy. I guess my interest may be hereditary. On a trip to Goa a few years ago we visited a spice farm. It was a truly enriching experience as they educated us in the use of spices and herbs in medicine. Many thanks to you for sharing what you know!!


carlness profile image

carlness 5 years ago from San Francisco

Great hub! I have been thinking about this for a while. I read somewhere that rosemary is also a natural anti-inflammatory. Do you know anything about this? Awesome + 1 voteup :)


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks everyone!

Flora, I can relate - I love my mochas too.

Carlness - I don't know anything about using rosemary but if I find out, I will be sure to revise this hub.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

Hey, Congratulations on being selected hub of the day! As I said when I first read this-This Hub Rocks!


Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren Morgan M-T 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

Love the chart!


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks for reading and commenting, Dee and Maren


c-bless 5 years ago

I'm glad I came across this article. You provided lots of good information. Thank you for sharing.


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

thanks for your comments. I'm glad you found it useful and happened to come across it.


fashion 5 years ago

This is very interesting article.Well done.


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks fashion! I hope you'll stop by to read and comment on some of my other hubs.


raeyecarlos profile image

raeyecarlos 5 years ago

Great hub. I've always loved using herbs when I cook. It's wonderful to get more information on their benefits and other uses.


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks raeyecarlos! I'm glad you found the info helpful and thanks for stopping by to read.


Guanta profile image

Guanta 5 years ago from New York City

Thank you Danette Watt, wonderful Hub. Great video as well. Im going to try the lemonade, but on a smaller scale. Looking forward to your series.


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks Guanta for reading and commenting. Hope you like the lemonade, it's refreshing on these hot summer days.


almasi profile image

almasi 5 years ago

Thanks for a very useful resource. I especially like the chart. Bookmarked.


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

I'm glad you found this to be a good resource, almasi. Thanks for reading and bookmarking!


Momma Mia profile image

Momma Mia 5 years ago from North Carolina

Very nice an informative hub!! Thankyou for sharing this with us here at Hubpages! Vote up and more!!

wishingUwell

Mia


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks Mia for reading and the vote up!

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