Tag Archives: medicinal herbs

9 Herbs to Grow for Digestive Health

Recent studies have pointed out just how important our digestive health is. Did you know that your digestion can affect not just your physical health but your mental health as well? The gut influences the amount of serotonin (a hormone that regulates feelings of happiness) the body produces. While there are many components to a healthy digestive system, the following herbs all have a history of being used to support digestive health. Consider adding a couple to your garden and diet this year.

Fennel

Native to the Mediterranean, fennel has been used as a carminative  (to treat flatulence and related discomfort) for centuries. Medicinally, it’s typically consumed in tea and was sometimes used in “gripe water” once commonly used for infants.

Chamomile

While today many think of chamomile tea as being good for relaxation it’s also excellent for digestion. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties which can help soothe upset stomachs and reduce gas.

Sage

For most, sage is now thought of as solely a culinary herb but it has long been used as a digestive tonic. It’s astringent and antibacterial and is believed to help treat diarrhea and calm gastritis.

Anise Hyssop

A tasty tea made with anise hyssop can be enjoyed with a meal to help promote digestion and reduce gas and bloating. It’s great for bees too!

Mint 

Drinking mint tea is a tasty way to aid your digestion and reduce nausea. In some studies taking peppermint oil has been shown to decrease symptoms related to IBS.

Dandelion

Odds are this one is probably already growing in your garden. It may seem like a nuisance but dandelion is a very tasty and helpful plant! Full of nutrients, all parts of the dandelion are edible and some studies have shown consuming dandelion to help with digestion and reduce constipation.

Ginger

It has been used for centuries in Southeast Asia as a culinary and medicinal herb. Ginger is excellent for treating nausea, heartburn, and morning sickness. It can be made into tea or candied for on-the-go relief.

Goldenseal

Though research into goldenseal is ongoing, gastroenterologist Theodore A. DaCosta mentions that, it has a long history of being used to treat gastrointestinal issues and is believed to have anti-inflammatory, anti-diarrheal, antibacterial properties. Largely due to overharvesting this North American native is endangered. Planting goldenseal in your woodland can help ensure its survival.

Turmeric

Its anti-inflammatory properties have lent turmeric to a number of medicinal uses including treating arthritis but it is also excellent at supporting digestive health. Turmeric is traditionally used in a number of Indian dishes. It’s what gives curry that bright yellow color! You can also make it into tea or golden milk for a warm, relaxing drink.

If you often struggle with digestive issues or are simply interested in herbalism you may want to make room in your garden for a couple of these wonderful plants.

Another great way to support your digestive health is by eating plenty of probiotics. Pick up some cabbage seeds and check out our easy instructions for fermenting your own sauerkraut.

***We’re not doctors, always check with your physician before attempting to diagnose or treat any condition.

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DIY Autumn Wellness Tea

In my mind fall is this perfect time of year when we welcome the cool crisp air, autumn festivities, and the break from a busy summer season. It’s a time for crafts and reading and enjoying and celebrating the harvest with family and friends.

Unfortunately the reality is that autumn is usually just as busy as summer. There’s always more gardening projects whether it’s repairing tools for next year or putting up the last of this year’s peppers. Throw that in with visits from relatives, less sun exposure and vitamin D, tons of stress, and unhealthy food and you get the start of flu season!

One of my favorite ways to try and combat this problem, besides learning when to take a break, is to drink herbal tea. I’m not willing to give up my Halloween goodies or Thanksgiving feast but I can still make sure my body is getting some of the good stuff.

My favorite autumn tea blend includes the following herbs.

Echinacea any variety

Echinacea is an excellent herb for this time of year because studies have shown that it make act as an immuno-stimulant and even increase the production of white blood cells. All parts of the plant can be dried and used for tea. If you haven’t grown it yet it’s fairly easy to cultivate and is perennial in zones 3-9.

Ginger

While ginger certainly adds nice flavor to this blend it too has medicinal properties that are great for fall. Ginger is high in vitamin C, magnesium, and other important minerals. It also helps with nausea, heartburn, inflammation, and respiratory ailments.Plus it adds a nice warmth to this fall beverage.

Catnip

Not just for cats, catnip is actually very beneficial for humans. It has a calming effect and contains high levels of vitamins C and E to help keep your immune system strong. Catnip is another easy herb to grow and is perennial in zones 4-10.

Licorice Root *optional*

If you’d like your tea a bit sweet without the added sugar consider adding some licorice root. Beyond its flavor licorice root also has the added benefit of soothing upset stomachs and easing coughs. I put it as optional as its flavor is not everyone’s favorite.

 

To make the tea blend 4 TBS of dried echinacea, with 2 tsp of dried ginger, 2 TBS of dried catnip, and 1 TBS of dried licorice root (or more to your taste) in a small jar. Then steep 1 TBS of tea mix per 8oz of boiling water for 5 minutes. You may find you like it stronger and can use more than 1 TBS.

If you wish you can use a tea ball or strain the herbs out before drinking your tea.

 

Enjoy your tea, your harvest, and all the important people and events in your life this autumn. Stay healthy and happy!

(Related : Visit here to find effective methods of treating inflammation)

A Brief History of Garlic

Turkish Red Hardneck Garlic

Garlic’s easy cultivation and powerful flavor has made it a favorite for farmers and chefs alike. It’s is an unbelievably common ingredient in food today worldwide but few people realize that garlic is one of the oldest known horticultural crops. Evidence from historical records suggests that garlic has been cultivated for at least 5000 years! There are references to its use found from ancient Egypt, India, and China.

Garlic is believed to be originally native to Central Asia as this is where it can currently be found growing wild. Many plants referred to as “wild garlic” worldwide are members of the Allium family (leeks, onions, shallots, chives) but are not in fact true garlic or Allium Sativum. All cultivated garlic comes from two subspecies A. sativum var. ophioscorodon and A. sativum var. sativum. Like many “wild garlics” elephant garlic, though tasty, is not a a “true garlic” but is instead a member of the onion genus.

Garlic Scapes

A. sativum var. ophioscorodon often referred to simply as ophioscorodon are the hardneck garlics. They are generally grown in cooler northern climates and typically produce fewer but larger cloves. They also produce garlic scapes or flower heads. These are generally cut off before they open and eaten. This allows the garlic to put energy into the bulb rather than flowering.

A. sativum var. sativum are the softenck garlics. They do better in hotter climates farther south than hardneck garlics do. They’re also favored for braiding and their ability to keep extremely well in storage.

The cultivation of garlic probably came about because it was easy for people to pull up and travel with for later use or to plant somewhere else. Garlic cultivation may have also been a quickly taken up by humans because of it’s ability to reproduce both sexually and asexually. Meaning that garlic can make seed, combining genes with other garlic plants, but it is also very simple to grow garlic clones from individual cloves.

Another reason garlic may have quickly become so popular and widespread is because it grows well in a wide range of climates and soil conditions. Garlic is also very hardy and susceptible to few diseases and pests. So much so that in modern gardens it’s used as a companion plant to deter certain pests.

As people traveled and traded garlic’s use and cultivation spread. Little is known about most of its first travels around Asia but it is documented that garlic was first brought to Europe by the Crusaders.

Interestingly garlic has played more than a culinary role in human history. It’s been used for both spiritual and medicinal purposes through the years. In fact, it’s the most widely recognized medicinal herb.

In medieval times it was believed that garlic could ward off all types of evil. A belief that easily lent garlic for use in warding off vampires. Many cultures also believed that garlic was an aphrodisiac or held special powers relating to love. In the Middle Ages it was grown by the monasteries for its healing powers.

In ancient Greece garlic was given to athletes as it was believed to enhance their power and in ancient Egypt it was often fed to commoners and slaves to keep them healthy and working well. This belief also led to it’s use in feeding both Greek and Egyptian warriors as well as Roman soldiers and sailors who needed to be strong.

Garlic’s use as an herbal remedy is as varied as it is widespread. In ancient China garlic was prescribed for respiratory ailments, digestive issues, diarrhea, and parasites. It was also used in combination with other herbs to treat fatigue, impotency, headaches, and insomnia. It was used similarly in ancient India plus was prescribed to fight infections.

Today garlic is most renowned for its pungent flavor but has also gained some scientific credibility as a medicinal herb. Though there isn’t conclusive evidence some studies suggest that garlic can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, boost your immune system, and help the body fight off illness and infection through its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

Garlic’s story is ultimately a human story. This one plant has been handed down, shaping people’s meals (and possibly health) for 5000 years. If there’s an easy to grow plant that deserves a place in the home garden surely it’s garlic.

Remember garlic is planted in the fall so the time to start yours is now!