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Herbs Herbs wonderful Herbs...

Posted May 20 2010 12:00am
As you can tell from my Garden Joy post, I've been pottering around in the garden lately in my pretty blue boots. Ok, mostly I watch Dave potter in the garden. Anyway, today I was very excited to receive my package of seedlings from Mudbrick Cottage Herb Farm ! Who would have thought you could order plants online and have them delivered express right to your door? They were all packaged up very carefully in a box with loads of old newspaper and not one of the plants was looking close to death or even squashed. Needless to say I was very impressed. There was also a lovely little fact sheet about how to grow herbs (a must for someone like me who doesn't know the first thing about it), and a little pouch of seaweed concentrate.

I'm pumped about these herbs because most of them have medicinal properties or can be used to make my very own tea. Yippee!

Here's what I got:

Dandelion is rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, selenium, silicon and zinc. It is regarded as one of the best herbs to treat gall, spleen and liver complaints, and one of the safest and most active plant diuretic. Women, who find that they 'puff up' at the time of menstruation, may get considerable relief from bloating and breast tenderness, by drinking dandelion tea as soon as they feel these symptoms.

Echinacea Purpurea enhances the immune system. It can be used at the onset of colds and flu, or to reduce the symptoms and duration of a cold or flu, tonsillitis, bronchitis, hay fever, sinusitis and whooping cough. You can also combine Echinacea with Golden Seal to help relieve food poisoning. It can also be used externally for infections and allergic reactions affecting the skin such as boils, impetigo, herpes, eczema, skin ulcers, thrush, athlete's foot and infected wounds.

Gotu Kola is also known as the arthritis herb as many people feel relief from their arthritis by eating 2-3 leaves a day. It has anti-inflammatory properties as well as improving circulation and strengthening blood vessels, giving rise to its use for varicose and spider veins, haemorrhoids and for improving memory and mental clarity. It contains a substance that increases collagen production and improves circulation, which speeds healing of wounds and burns, while also reducing scarring. The Thais make a drink out of it sweetened with palm sugar and Sri Lankans make a sambal with the leaves, fresh coconut and lime juice. You can also sprinkle the leaves into salads, curries and soups.

Ceylon Spinach contains vitamins A, B & C, iron and calcium. It is also high in blood building chlorophyll and rich in mucilage that is soothing to the digestive tract and help remove mucous and toxins. It should only be cooked lightly and the berries, which produce a red dye, can be used to colour deserts, jelly and pastry.

German Chamomile produces daisy like flowers that can be used in a variety of ways. They can be made into a tea and used internally for gastritis, diarrhea, mild anxiety, insomnia, nervous dyspepsia and to treat children's problems such as teething and colic. An infusion of the flowers can also be added to the bath water to relax an upset baby or relive the inflammation of nappy rash. Breastfeeding mums can drink the tea to relieve a colicky baby as well as being relaxing for her. The tea can also be used as a rinse for blonde hair to restore highlights. As a facial steam, chamomile opens the pores, kills bacteria and soothes inflammation. It also has antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties that can assist sunburn, wounds and leg ulcers.

Lemon Balm oil has a gently sedating effect, which helps to disperse tension and stress reactions, while also lightening the load of depression. Students have reported that drinking the tea has helped to clear their head, sharpen their memory and calm their butterflies before and during exams. Lemon balm can also be used as a facial steam for acne, as it is a good skin cleanser. It is also reputed to be a good insect repellant and can be blended with other insect repelling herbs such as lavender, lemongrass and rue. If you rub the fresh herbs down the kitchen table it should keep bugs away from the food. Lemon balm can be made into a tea to assist with fevers, help digestion and for tension headaches. The fresh leaves can be chopped and added to salads, marinated vegetables and sauces.

Mushroom Plant is a nutritious herb that is higher in protein than mushrooms and contains calcium, vitamin C, beta-carotene, iron and other vitamins and minerals. It's crunchy mushroom-flavoured leaves are delicious raw in salads and sandwiches and can be added to soups and stir-fries at the end of cooking to ensure full flavour.

Sorrel French contains iron, vitamins A & C, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium. A tea from the leaves can be used to lower a fever, but it should be avoided if prone to kidney stones or arthritis as it is high in oxalates. The tart, lemony leaves can be added to soups, sauces and salads and they parter well with avocado in a salad or sandwich. The leaves also go well in a Quinoa salad or add a tangy addition in tomato dishes. Do not cook sorrel in aluminum pans as the oxalic acid reacts with it, giving it a metallic taste.

Thyme was regarded as a plant that imparted courage and vigor during medieval times. The fresh or dried leaves can be added to soups, stews, baked or sauteed vegetables, casseroles and custards. It provides a warm tangy flavour and is often used in marinades also. The tea can be drunk 3-4 times a day for the treatment of coughs and the essential oil is a powerful antiseptic, antibacterial and a strong antioxidant.

Aloe Vera is one of the only known natural vegetarian sources of Vitamin B12, and is a general tonic for the immune system, helping to fight illnesses of all kinds. The juice is said to soothe digestive tract irritations such as colitis, ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome. It contains protein, calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamins A, B12, C & E, essential fatty acids, enzymes and germanium. The sap is cooling and is a natural remedy for sunburn, buts and wounds.

Lavender tea can be made using 2 teaspoons of dried flowers to a cup of boiling water and is used to treat headaches, anxiety states and rheumatism. Pouches of dried lavender can be put in the drawers among clothes to keep moths away. Lavender infusions can be made with 5 teaspoons of dried flowers in a cup of boiling water and used externally for washing and disinfecting wounds and ulcerations. Lavender water can be used for refreshing and toning the skin. A few drops of lavender oil on your pillow will assist with insomnia.

So, next time you are feeling under the weather, just pop on over for a stroll in the herb garden! I found most of the information about these herbs either at Mudbrick Cottage Herb Farm or Herbs Are Special. Check them out if you are interested in learning more.
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