September 21, 2014

Chandra L. Mattingly

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All about Herb(s)
Written by Chandra L. Mattingly   
Friday, March 23, 2012 4:25 PM

Giving up salt? Herbs can help.

Seeking more nutritious foods? Herbs can help.

Dealing with a chronic medical condition like diabetes or heart disease? Herbs may help.

Long before modern medicine, folks turned to herbs. With salt a precious commodity, folks used herbs, plants they could grow themselves, to season food. And now, thanks to modern science, we know herbs are chockfull of vitamins and antioxidants.

Best of all, you can grow them yourself.

Thanks to a recent program at Lawrenceburg Library by registered dietician Peachy Seiden, I can list some of the specific properties she shared for the more common herbs. Most of these are safe to ingest in any quantity, although you should check with your doctor before using large amounts of any medicinal plant.

Seiden, who obviously loves herbs and other plants, had the best advice for herb gardeners: snip and eat your herbs constantly for better health. The plants will regrow again and again.

•Basil: Contains vitamin K, iron, beta carotene and potassium and antioxidants; used as an anti-infective. Use with fish or vegetables, in bread and salads, pesto.

•Chives: Contains vitamins A and K, potassium, folate; used for indigestion, as a remedy for tiredness and fatigue. Chop and use in salads, with vegetables and most meats for mild onion flavor; chop with blossoms and add to a white vinegar to make an herbal pink vinegar.

•Cilantro: Power source of potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, rich in antioxidants, plus vitamins K and C, folate; used for indigestion, arthritis, said to lower LDL and raise HDL cholesterol. Use in rice dishes, salads, or just eat fresh.

•Garlic: Contains potassium, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium and is a source of selenium; used as an anti fungal, anti-inflammatory, said to be cardio-protective. Use with all sorts of meats and vegetables, chop greens into salads.

•Ginger: Source of potassium, phosphate, magnesium, calcium, folate; used for upset stomach, bloating, nausea, as a natural antibiotic, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory. Great with oriental dishes, stir-fry, candied.

•Oregano: Source of Omega-3, contains calcium, potassium, magnesium; used as an antibacterial, and to treat diarrhea and loss of appetite. Use with milder cousin sweet marjoram in pizza and tomato dishes, green beans, with fish and chicken, in stews, with eggplant.

•Parsley: Source of potassium, calcium, vitamin A and K; used to treat kidney stones, bladder infections, as a digestive aid, and, as a paste, for insect bites. Use in salads, lasagna, with eggs, in Mediterranean dishes, as an edible garnish.

•Rosemary: Contains potassium, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin A, folate; used as an analgesic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and disinfectant. Great with fish, chicken and other meats in small amounts, use large sprig to spread butter or oil on foods while cooking.

•Sage: Source of vitamins K and A, folate, calcium; said to ease digestion and bloating, used for asthma, cold relief, stress and anxiety. Use with turkey stuffing, in marinades, with roast beef, in teas, as an aftershave or bath additive.

•Thyme: source of potassium, magnesium, calcium, vitamin A; has anti-fungal properties, used to treat bronchitis, GI problems and laryngitis, and to keep moths away. Great with chicken and fish, especially lemon-flavored varieties, in soups, breads, sauces, and with vegetables.

Those are the most-popular herbs.

Others with medicinal and culinary use include chamomile for teas and baked goods, said to soothe the skin; dill for baked goods and pickling, used for digestive and sedative properties; fennel, for soups, salads and fish (or just to eat for its crunchy licorice taste) also used to help digestive upsets and respiratory conditions; fenugreek, used in sauces and curry and said to help cholesterol and blood sugar balance; lemon balm, used as tea, said to relieve stress and insomnia; and mints, another tea herb, used for nausea and headaches.

All of these except ginger will be available at my plant sale May 10, 11, 12 & 19 at 109 N. High St., Rising Sun, as will many additional herbs.

If you want to grow ginger, buy a root at the store, pop into good soil and place in a warm, sunny spot. They won't overwinter, so either harvest its root before frost or bring indoors.