It’s the time of year, where we can use all the help we can get from the food around us. I wanted to explore three of the easiest and most common herbs and there benefits –Parsley, Rosemary and Thyme. Remember, herbs can be used culinary, as teas and tinctures and also topically. Ask me any questions that come to mind.
Parsley, curly or flat leaf, packs an antioxidant punch! Antioxidants are used by the body to reduce inflammation, to fight infection and combat free radical damage. The most obvious impact is associated with the ageing process, specifically age related diseases, physical decline and soreness. Parsley is a natural diuretic and helps with water retention and bloating, it sits nicely with kidney health as this helps to flush the kidneys. Because of this, parsley can be useful to ease bladder discomfort and that associated to kidney stones and kidney inflammation. I love the use of parsley as a breath freshener. Used as a digestive aid, starting in the mouth (for its antibacterial and antiseptic oil qualities) right down to supporting bile production for better absorption through the gut. Parsley contains Vitamins A, C and K.
Rosemary is one of my family’s firm favourites. It is a herb rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic qualities. This combination supports and boosts the immune system. As an antibacterial herb it can be used to treat bacterial infections and is commonly used for gut and bowel health – constipation, diarrhoea, bloating and even stomach ulcers. Research is currently underway in the use of Rosemary as a memory stimulant. It is already considered a mood-enhancing herb. To increase memory function and to extend this into treating dementia and Alzheimer’s patients has great potential.
Thyme contains thymol (used in shop bought mouthwashes and vapour rubs); this antiseptic oil tackles sore throats and other oral bacteria in the mouth and throat. Traditionally, it has been used as a treatment for bronchitis. Thyme is an antispasmodic, which means it can relax the respiratory muscles. Today the German government endorses this. Before antibacterial creams, thyme oil was used on bandages as a preventive to infection. Thyme, like Rosemary is certainly a mood enhancer.
Storing fresh herbs is easy - keep them cold. Stand fresh herbs, bouquet style in a glass of water with a plastic bag loosely over the top and refrigerate. If you are tight on fridge space, roll them in damp paper towel and store them in a container in the vegetable drawer. (NB: Basil should be kept at room temperature). Alternatively you can dry herbs on a paper towel in an airing cupboard or in the summer try a sunny windowsill.
It is difficult to consume a lot of herbs, however to use them in cooking (as a tea, an inhalation, or a cream) is important. Not just for flavour and scent, but for what they bring us medicinally.
Paula is an avid writer and enjoys working with food and words.