Considering that every household has a unique culinary palate it is hard to decide what herbs should be on this list. With so many to choose from I decided that this list should be comprised of double duty herbs. Herbs that not only provide flavor, but aid in your health. All herbs contained in this list can be found in dishes here in the United States. Since many culinary delights have been passed from one generation to the next and originate from other parts of the world you can find many uses for these herbs.
Garlic is a heart healthy herb.
Garlic has to be first on my list. Garlic is widely used in many dishes as a seasoning, and in relishes or other condiments. The use of garlic in food and medicine is as ancient as the written words of the Bible. Garlic can be used as an antibacterial, or anti-fungal agent. Garlic has the ability to improve your cardiovascular health by lowering bad cholesterol levels while improving good cholesterol levels. Interestingly the Cherokee Indians used garlic as an expectorant for the common cold.
Ginger soothes the stomach.
Ginger is high on my list of favorite herbs. It is found in many of my favorite dishes and as a mom of 6 kids it has been a life saver many times. Ginger is most commonly used to treat nausea, and vomiting and is especially helpful to pregnant women. In recent years ginger has been found to help cancer patients after treatments of chemotherapy. It might surprise you to know that ginger can be used as an anti-inflammatory and can help with arthritis or ulcerative colitis.
Sage soothes a sore throat.
Sage is a slightly peppery herb used in poultry stuffing and sausages. A small amount of this herb really packs a punch in the flavor and medicinal categories. In recent studies sage has been shown helpful in the management of mild and moderate Alzheimer's. Interestingly sage was an ingredient in Four Thieves Vinegar a blend of herbs reported to ward off the plague. Sage can be seeped and sipped for a very soothing sore throat remedy.
Oregano is an antiseptic.
Oregano is most widely known as the "pizza herb." It is used in abundance within Italian recipes. Oregano has high levels of antioxidants and and is an effective anti-microbial for some food-borne pathogens. Oregano can be used topically to treat wounds or used in a tea as a mild sedative. Oregano has recently been found to have extremely effective properties against methacillin-resistant staphylococcus a particularly nasty strain of staph that is found in hospitals.
Rosemary reduces migrain pain.
Rosemary is one of the most aromatic herbs and a staple in many kitchens. The herb is used in preparing dishes mostly comprised of lamb as well as aiding flavor to many soups. Rosemary is widely used in folk medicine because of its antibacterial and antioxidant properties. Rosemary is an herb that fits the adage "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". In a tea Rosemary can be heavenly, reducing headaches and other pain while relaxing the body.
Basil is used for coughs.
Basil is widely used in Italian cuisine. Basil is very serviceable in and out of the kitchen. Practitioners of folk medicine use basil to improve the overall health of the immune system, and improve memory. Basil can be used as an expectorant when suffering from colds or flu. Tea made from seeping basil can be used to settle an upset stomach or cure other gastric distress.
Mint as a substitute for vapor rub.
Mint is used to make jam, jellies, candy, and many alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages. Many people recognize mint by the winter fresh smell associated with it. Made into a tea mint can settle a stomach or clear the nasal passages of the drinker. Spearmint should be used be used to treat colic or stomach aliments in children as it is milder than other forms of mint. A hot bath with mint can be a substitute for over the counter vapor bath products.
Thyme is an antibiotic.
Thyme is an excellent source of iron and is used in the kitchen to flavor meats, soups and stews. The essential oil in thyme is the active ingredient in Listerine mouthwash. Having antibacterial and anti-fungal properties thyme is most often used to cure Athletes Foot. Interestingly thyme was used by ancient Egyptians for embalming. A tea made from thyme can cure a cough and aid in the symptoms of bronchitis.
Lemongrass helps with cancer.
Lemongrass is commonly used in teas, soups and curries. It has a very pleasant citrus flavor. Lemongrass also known as Citronella Grass is used in landscaping to repel mosquitoes. Lemongrass can be made into a tea to cure cold and flu symptoms. New studies suggest that lemongrass may be an aid in curing cancer. Citral the essential oil in lemongrass will attack malignant cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone.
Chives are full of essential vitamins.
Chives are a cousin of garlic. It can be found in many dishes as an ingredient or garnish. Chives are grown as a repellant to keep unwanted pests out of the garden. Those that are overpowered by the use of garlic, should use chives as a substitute since it has the same healing properties but is much milder. Chives are rich in A, and C, as well as iron and calcium. Chives are found fresh at most markets year round, this availability makes chives a favorite among cooks.
Many cultures have used herbs in the kitchen for flavor and health for thousands of years. In the written word studies of herbs date back 5,000 years. While we certainly don't need to rely on herbs for all of our healing needs it is beneficial to know that your favorite dish could be much better for you with a few small additions. Give your old recipes flair with the addition of the herbs listed above, and smile knowing you did much more than fill the stomachs in your home.
Read more about a Choronic Pain Herbal Remedy.