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Health Benefits of Natural Medicinal Culinary Herbs + How to Grow Them

Grow your own medicinal herbs with our home grown tips. Grow your own medicinal herbs with our home grown tips.

 

The medicinal benefits of herbs have been known for centuries. Records of Native American, Roman, Egyptian, Persian and Asian cultures all show that they used herbs to treat illness. These ancient people didn’t have modern scientific knowledge to explain why herbs worked; they simply knew that certain plants produced certain desirable results.

In modern times, chemists and pharmacists have been able to isolate and purify the beneficial chemical compounds in herbs and other plants to produce pharmaceutical drugs. In fact, about 25 percent of the prescription medications sold today were originally derived from herbs and other plants.

So why not cut out the middleman and get the benefits of natural herbs yourself? Yet another reason to get that windowsill garden going.

Basil

Basil is a tender, low-growing herb that is prominently featured in Italian and Southeast Asian cuisines. It is commonly used fresh in recipes, added at the last moment because heat quickly destroys its flavor.

Scientists are currently studying basil for its possible health benefits, such as treating digestive problems, cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol, arthritis and more.

 

Chives

Found in many gardens and grocery stores, chives are the smallest species of the onion family. You can add them to fish, potatoes, omelets, scrambled eggs, soups and other dishes.

Chives also help to lower blood pressure, are rich in vitamins A and C, and contain trace amounts of sulfur and iron. Additionally, their insect-repelling properties make them valuable as pest control in gardens.

 

Mint

Mint is divided into two major groups: spearmint and peppermint. Spearmint is most often used for culinary purposes, while peppermint is used for its medicinal properties and also to flavor sweets and breath-fresheners. Mint leaves have a warm, fresh, aromatic, sweet flavor with a cool aftertaste.

Originally used as a medicinal herb to aid in digestion, mint is also good for the chills, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches and poor appetite. Mint can also be used to end lactation when women wish to stop nursing. Because of this, pregnant or nursing women should not consume it.

 

Oregano

Oregano is a delicious addition to Italian and Mexican dishes. It carries antioxidant properties due to a high content of phenolic acids and flavonoids.

Oregano also helps to boost the immune system and is very useful for fighting bacterial, viral and fungal infections. Additionally, oregano has demonstrated antimicrobial activity against food-borne pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes.

 

Parsley

Two kinds of parsley are used as culinary herbs: curly leaf and Italian (or flat-leaf). Parsley tastes great as part of many recipes including egg dishes, tabbouleh and other salads, pastas and vegetable dishes.

Fresh parsley is a great detoxifier because of its concentrated chlorophyll, but more impressive are the studies showing that a substance contained in parsley prevents the multiplication of tumor cells. Parsley is also helpful in stimulating the normal activity of the digestive system, and it relieves gas.

 

Rosemary

Rosemary is a small evergreen shrub and a member of the mint family containing several antioxidants that help fight free radicals.

Rosemary is very useful in fighting bacterial and fungal infections, stimulates the digestion system and circulation of blood to the brain, and acts as an astringent and decongestant. Like mint, pregnant or nursing women should avoid rosemary.

 

Sage

Sage is an herb that comes from an evergreen bush in the mint family, and is a lovely enhancement to many meat, potato and vegetable dishes. Studies show that sage can be used as an anhidrotic, antibiotic, antifungal, astringent, antispasmodic, estrogenic, hypoglycemic and tonic.

It has been used to prevent blood clots from forming and has a long tradition of treating digestive problems. It also stimulates the central nervous system.

 

Thyme

Thyme is an aromatic herb in the mint family. It is widely cultivated for its strong flavor, which is due to its thymol content.

Thyme is a strong antiseptic and is the main active ingredient in Listerine mouthwash. Thyme helps eliminate gas, reduces fever and headaches, lowers cholesterol levels, and soothes respiratory problems.

 

If any of these medicinal herbs sound like the type of plant you’d like to grow yourself, check out these tips for cultivating them:

- For faster growth and consistent year round production you can try cost effective T-5 full spectrum fluorescent lights or even LEDs or Plasma.

- To harvest more herbs that have stronger aromatic qualities, include an all-purpose plant tonic like Advanced Nutrients B-52 with waterings or feedings.

- Most herbs prefer warmer temperatures and window sills can get cool. An inexpensive propagation heat mat can heat the soil instead of the air, making it inexpensive to use, electrically speaking.

- For better flavors, flush the soil with plain water a few hours before you harvest. Make sure to provide a light feeding after a heavy cut of fresh herbs, too.

- Keep starting new plants from seeds in a separate tray. Adding new varieties or replacing old tired, woody plants keeps things productive and interesting.

 

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Last modified on Tuesday, 26 March 2013 04:05

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