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Gut, Brain Earth: How Does Your Herb Garden Heal?

While the weather may not be what we have all hoped for so far this year, you’ve probably been putting your best effort in to plant your garden despite the never ending rain and cool temps. Neither rain nor sleet nor hail nor wind can keep you from getting those plants into the ground. Your wallet and the planet thank you.

If you’re including fresh herbs in your outdoor sanctuary (as you should… they’re easy to grow and make food taste awesome), you’re in luck. Did you know that your fresh herb garden is your own all-natural medicine cabinet? Even the simplest herbs that you more than likely grow every year can help you stay away from over-the-counter meds that pollute your body and the planet.

Rosemary: This delicious smelling and tasting herb is easy to grow and resilient even in crap weather. Rosemary can help relieve digestive upset and has analgesic properties (think aspirin) which means it can ease a headache and other inflammatory pain. It can even be used as a hair strengthener. Steep one teaspoon of leaves in boiling water and drink, or cool the tea and use as a hair rinse.

Thyme: Thyme is an expectorant, which means it helps to get the gross stuff out when you have a cold or flu. Place five sprigs of thyme in a bowl of boiling water, place your face over it and cover with a towel to breathe in the steam and the volatile oils when that annoying summer cold hits. Drink a tea of one tablespoon thyme leaves in one cup of boiling water to help with gas and bloating (add some rosemary for extra digestive love). This tea is even said to help fend off nightmares when taken before bed

Basil: Turns out this glorious Italian herb has many more uses than topping off your grilled flatbreads and caprese salads. Basil is a diuretic, meaning that it can help with kidney and bladder troubles by making you pee the bad stuff out, and can also aid in relieving constipation. Simmering an ounce of fresh basil leaves in 2 cups of water with some cracked black pepper will get things flowing… literally. Or just eat the leaves on their own to help calm your nerves.

Parsley: While you may consider parsley just a garnish, or an awesome addition to scrambled eggs, it is also effective in relieving urinary inflammations; it can help ease urinary tract infections by dissolving and expelling stones and gravel and helps to kill bacteria with its diuretic and antiseptic properties. Parsley is best used in tincture form, so combine four ounces of cut leaves with two cups of gin or vodka, shaking daily for two weeks to one month. Strain and keep in a dropper bottle, taking 10-30 drops when you need relief.

Lavender: Lavender is fragrant and beautiful and is known for its ability to help you get to sleep. However, lavender is also a really great option as an antidepressant and anti-anxiety alternative. Lavender makes an awesome and bright pink floral tea, but can also be made into a tincture as explained above. Drink one cup of tea or take 10-20 drops of tincture when you feel an anxiety attack coming on to help calm your nervous system.

Sage: One of the weird and wonderful benefits of sage is that it can slow the secretion of fluids, like excessive perspiration or night sweats. Combine the leaves of five sprigs in two cups of boiling water and let steep for 10 minutes; this tea can be taken three times per day for no longer than a week at a time if you’re a sweaty Betty.

Fresh herbs truly do make everything better, whether it’s taking that salad to a whole new level or curing the common cold. The next time your sidelined with less than awesome health this spring and summer, turn to your herb garden instead of the pharmacy for some all-natural, cheap and easy relief… and who doesn’t like cheap and easy?

Written by Kate Notwell

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