Herb Garden

The Gift Of Health
by Daniel Brouse

What better gift to give someone than health and wellness? Herbs are a great tradition.

Parsley is rich in minerals, iron, antioxidants, chlorophyll, vitamins A and C. Parsley is a traditional remedy that reduces flatulence, freshens breath, aids in digestion, antidote for poisons, calms nerves and anemia.

Parsley is a great plant for every gardener to grow. It winters well in almost all climates. After a freezing rain, you can eat it as though it were an ice cream treat -- a Parsley Popsicle. Another favorite is with orange cheese (the more orange color usually the more anti-oxidants) and a cracker. It can also be grown inside (in case you like to eat it first thing in the morning to get fresh breath.)

Parsley has long been thought to be an antidote for poisons. Greeks and Romans would put a piece on the plates of guests as a sign of trust. Perhaps this is why people leave it on their plates today... so as not to offend their host. However, the breath freshening and flatulence reducing qualities are much more likely to be appreciated. So, eat it up.

Sage is a traditional remedy that aids healing, used as a bandage, toothbrush for the American Indian or with bear fat to rub in the skin, improves memory, aids in digestion of meats, throats and tonsillitis.

Rosemary is rich in calcium, vitamins A and C. Rosemary is a traditional remedy that is a cure-all, breath cleanser, calms a cough, improves memory, antiseptic, cures headaches and aids in anti-aging.

Rosemary has long been associated with the Virgin Mary. Some stories have Mary cloaking the rosemary bush with her coat changing the color of the flowers from white to blue. Others believe she hung Jesus' clothes on what she thought was a rosemary bush, but was actually sunshine. Still others believe the bush gave the Holy Family protection and shelter as they fled to Egypt. The folklore that followed included the ideas that rosemary would grow no taller than Jesus, nor outlive his 33 year life span.

Thyme is rich in methyl and is a traditional remedy that can be used as an antiseptic, anti-fungal, fighting parasites, invigorating, good for teeth and gums, treating headaches, warts, bruises and stings.

Basil is rich in methyl and is a traditional remedy that reduces indigestion, is a breath freshener, cures nausea and stomach ailments.

Basil has long been used by damsels in distress for love potions. Some believe sharing a sprig will cause the person to fall in love with you. Others put it under their pillow or in their undergarment drawer.

Mint is rich in methyl and is a traditional remedy for stomach ailments.

The essential oil of peppermint (up to 2.5% in the dried leaves) is mostly made up from menthol (ca. 50%), menthone (10 to 30%), menthyl esters (up to 10%) and further monoterpene derivatives (pulegone, piperitone, menthofurane). Traces of jasmone (0.1%) improve the oil's quality remarkably.

In the New Testament, the mint is called hedyosmon (see also pomegranate). This compound means "the sweet smelling one" (see licorice for more information) and "smell", related to English odour, cf. Latin olere "to smell."

Mint is commonly used for the effects from its volatile oils, mainly menthol. The digestive system benefits greatly from these effects through a number of mechanisms. One way M. piperita works is that the menthol relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter (also known as the cardiac sphincter) to release pressure from the stomach. Another way M. piperita acts on the GI tract is by inhibiting the hyperactivity of intestinal smooth muscle through blocking the influx of calcium into the muscle cell. This helps to regulate the intestines by normalizing muscle function and facilitating the expiration of gas, improving such conditions as irritable bowel syndrome.

The antiseptic and diaphoretic qualities of mint makes it valuable in the treatment of colds and flu. Warm peppermint teas will encourage perspiration and recovery. The volatile oils are antiseptic and antiviral. M. piperita also reduces the catarrh from head colds.

Topically, peppermint oil may be used as a counter irritant to produce analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. The oils stimulate nerve perception of cold while pain perception is decreased. To the skin this feels like an initial sensation of cool, followed by warmth. This treatment is useful in musculoskeletal conditions, headaches and toothaches.

Peppermint oil may also be used topically as a chest rub for coughs and asthma. The oil will help ease breathing through relaxing the smooth muscles of the bronchioles.

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