MEDICINAL HERBS PART 2

by Herb Enthusiast Barbara Porsch

This week we will continue three more herbs that are easy to grow and are good for you also.

First is Sage (Salvia officinalis) which they say can improve your memory. Boy howdy, do I need to eat a lot of that!  Studies show it is a strong antibacterial, especially against such as salmonella and staphylococcus.

Like most herbs, Sage is native to the Mediterranean area and will survive winters most anywhere.  It wants lots of sun and good drainage.  In fact it wants sun so much, that it would be a hassle to grow indoors even with a grow light.  There are quite a few varieties of the common culinary sage.  It has a strong flavor and I am always reminded of the time I put too much into the Thanksgiving dressing. (Some people call it stuffing.)  A little goes a long way.   You can use it with cheeses, pasta and breads and even make tea by steeping fresh leaves in boiling water.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is the symbol of remembrance. The old herbalists recommended it “for all infirmities of the head and brain.”   Europeans suggested wearing a garland of rosemary as a remedy against forgetfulness.  Do you see a trend here in why I like these two herbs?

It is said that an ointment can soothe the pain of rheumatism.  Toss some sprigs into a hot bath to soothe aching muscles.  I can attest that after a hard day in the garden this really is nice.  Also, I have heard that rubbing your dog with rosemary twigs will repel ticks and fleas.  I do know that my dog sure did smell good after running through the shrub chasing lizards. The blossoms attract bees and birds.

A woody shrub native to the Mediterranean, Rosemary was spread through northern Europe by the Romans who burned the pine scented leaves as incense.  Rosemary needs sun and, above all, good drainage.  It is evergreen so you don’t need to save and dry.  Just go out and cut a twig to use on any meat, but especially chicken or fish, and potatoes or bread.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is considered a universal seasoning and is one of three basic ingredients (with bay and parsley) in bouquet garni which is the traditional mix of herbs used in French cooking. However, in Europe medical practitioners use thyme products to treat coughs, bronchitis and even asthma. It is considered an expectorant and antibacterial.

Thyme is easy to propagate by cuttings or divisions. The seeds are very slow to germinate.  They need good light and like most other herbs, good drainage.  There are over 100 species of Thyme, each probably with a minute difference of flavor.  Lemon Thyme is especially tasty in cooking chicken or fish.  You can use thyme in soups and stews.

If you all remember the ballad that mentions “parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme” then you know I just can’t quit without mentioning parsley even though it makes one more than the six I said I would start out with.

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is like a vitamin pill on your plate. It is rich in vitamins A, C, and B and is a good source of calcium, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin, a natural source of potassium and magnesium and reportedly fights cancer.  Added bonus is that it deodorizes your breath especially after eating garlic or onions. So, don’t leave it there:  eat that parsley on your plate.

 

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