Adding a handful of herbs to a dish has the power to bring the tastes to life like nothing else. At this time of year, the most popular herbs we use here in the UK are easy to grow in the garden or in a window box. So now's the perfect time to experiment and get herb happy. But did you know that many herbs also have the power to heal and help our body stay well and working? Here are a few that are easy to grow and how they can help us stay healthy...
Five herbs that are good for our health
1. MINT As well as working its magic on new potatoes and in a classic mojito, garden mint is revered for its ability to ease the digestion and help with stomach cramps and nausea. Its gorgeous, refreshing smell brings its own powers too as mint can alert the mind and aid concentration. Used externally, it can be used to treat minor grazes. Or as an infusion to gargle and treat gum trouble and toothache.
2. ROSEMARY Beautifully scented , the woody leaved stems of rosemary contain an oil with hidden powers. Rosemary has long been used as a natural stimulant, renowned for its rejuvenating qualities. It's often used by herbalists for depression, gout, kidney stones or in a bath for rheumatism. Its antispasmodic qualities make it good to use for coughs and to calm the nerves.
3. LAVENDER Did you know that lavender is in fact a herb? Scientifically proven to help with insomnia, the oil from lavender flowers is much loved for its aroma and revered as a natural relaxant to calm nerves and help reduce stress. We rate it so much we've used it at the heart of our best-selling DREAM signature blend, combined with a touch of bergamot, cedarwood and soothing chamomile to freshen it up and create the gentlest of sleep-inducing aromatherapy blends. Perfect to help you drift off to sleep before bed. Click here to explore our DREAM range.
4. THYME Brilliantly handy in the kitchen, especially cooked with chicken (just add some sprigs of thyme and a quartered lemon in to the cavity of a chicken before roasting and it will emerge from the oven beautifully tasty and smelling delicious). Thyme has been used as a healer for centuries. Not only is it a nerve calmer, it is also effective for treating coughs. Try sipping on thyme tea next time you have a cold.
5. SAGE The word 'sage' (or 'salvia') stems from the Latin words 'to save'. Used commonly in ancient times to heal a whole number of ailments from cuts to fevers, its modern use by herbalists includes treating fevers and relieving nerves. Used topically, it is considered a valuable way to naturally heal minor cuts and to treat ulcers.
HERBY TIP: Did you know that many herbs freeze well? We love this idea from joyzz.com which makes it easy to have fresh herbs on hand all year round. Just cut while fresh, chop up and arrange into ice-cube trays topped up with olive oil. Pop in the freezer and wait for them to harden before tipping the cubes out and transferring them to labelled freezer bags, then put them back in there until they are needed. They'll be there ready and waiting to drop in to your savoury dishes whenever you need them through the year. Clever huh?