Tag Archives: herb blurb

Herb Blurb – Feverfew

                It has been a while since I posted anything about herbs, but recently a friend was having difficulties with migraines. This isn’t the first time migraines have been a problem for friends and family. I had posted on Facebook that she may want to try feverfew. Several others chimed in that she should also try it. Apparently at least a few people are using medicinal herbs. If you think about is there are so many side effects with today’s pharmaceuticals that the side effects are sometimes worse than the original condition. After 16 years in pharmaceuticals I can tell you the ones listed are only the main groupings. There is a whole list of side effects that don’t make the package because they were not the majority of people. I watched a commercial the other night that half the ad was side effects. I am also interested to see here in the USA that most sources online say that herbs are not proven effective. Yet in the European markets and Asian markets herbs are the 1st choice with pharmaceuticals as a 2nd. Why? Because you cannot paten a plant, you can grow it yourself, and no money can be made from it. Thus big companies who seem to control everything here, don’t like medicines you can grow yourself without having to spend money and taxes with them.

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                Back to feverfew. Feverfew is a perennial herb that grows in full sun. This is something that can be grown here in Indiana with ease, as we currently grow it. It somewhat resembles chamomile in the flowers, but the leaves have a distinctive different shape. Feverfew has been used as an herbal treatment to reduce fever, irregular menstrual cycles, psoriasis, allergies, asthma, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headaches, arthritis, and digestive problems. Some of the active compounds in feverfew have been proven in laboratory studies to kill cancer cells. With all the uses, it seems to have its best effects on treating migraines. Many people who suffer migraines on a regular basis have stated that by adding feverfew to their daily activities has reduced or eliminated the migraines. It has also been used for people having difficulty getting pregnant or fathering a child. It has also been used for “tired blood” (anemia), cancer, common cold, earache, liver disease, prevention of miscarriage, muscular tension, bone disorders, swollen feet, diarrhea, upset stomach and intestinal gas. Feverfew is sometimes applied directly to the gums for toothaches or to the skin to kill germs.

                Feverfew also is a beneficial insect attractor by bringing in bees and butterflies to the many white flowers. It is also said that placed around the garden in pots (it will continue to spread) will attract toads to the garden

                There are several different was to prepare the feverfew. It is somewhat a stimulant and is used for hysterical complaints, nervousness and lowness of spirits, and is a general tonic. A cold infusion is made from 1 OZ. of the herb to a pint of boiling water, allowed to cool, and taken frequently in doses of half a teacupful.

A mixture with sugar or honey is said to be good for coughs, wheezing and difficult breathing. The herb, crushed and heated, heated with oil and spirits has been used as a warm external application for wind and colic.

A tincture made from Feverfew and applied locally immediately relieves the pain and swelling caused by bites of insects.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, herbalist, or licensed to practice either. I am sharing information that I have researched, and used at my own home, and conveying the knowledge I have used and researched. Please consult a doctor or medical provider, before using or relying on any information  provided. Please do your own research on any subject.

 If you missed some my other Herb Blurbs there are some links below.

Aloe Vera

Catnip

Lemon Balm

Garlic

Parsley

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Herb Blurb – Garlic

Recently I wrote about homemade cold remedy, and homemade chicken broth. Here is the details on another great herb. Garlic.

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Garlic is closely related to onion, shallot, leek, chives and rakkyo and has been used by humans for some 7,000 years. Originally from Asia, it has spread all around the world and is used in both culinary and medical applications.

Garlic today is available in many forms, including fresh, frozen, dried, fermented, (black garlic) freeze dried, and shelf stable products (in tubes or jars). Personally fresh garlic, or home dried is the best option.

Garlic is easy to grow and will grow in most areas of the US. While it can reproduce naturally using pollination from a male and female plant, most grown garlic is used by planting a clove from the bulb. One bulb can plant 10-20 new garlic plants. Garlic is typically planted in fall about six weeks before the first frost and deep enough to not go through many freeze thaw cycles as it will develop mold and rot. It is then harvested in the spring. Garlic doesn’t have too many enemies in the pest world, and is actually great to plant near other plants which are more susceptible. We planted garlic around the roses this year and have noticed a significant decrease in pests. You can also do this around more susceptible plants in your vegetable garden. Garlic can be places fairly close together as long as there is enough room for the bulbs to mature. It likes loose, dry, well drained soils in sunny areas. The best USDA zones for planting are 4-9 but don’t let that stop you from trying if you are outside that zone. If I am close to the zone boundary of a plant I will at least give it a try. There are many techniques using permaculture that can elevate your current zone 2-3 zones higher. Example you can get an extra zone using rocks around the base of a tree to increase 1 zone going from 5 to 6. Or a hoop house can get you as many as 3 zones. From 5 to 8.

You can not only eat the bulbs or cloves, but you can also eat the leaves and flowers. Both have milder flavor than the bulbs, but is still usable in many dishes. Garlic has so many uses in the kitchen they are almost endless. You can eat it raw, sautéed, roasted, infused in oils, toppings and that is just a few. My favorite (although my family hates it when I do this) is to roast it in a terracotta roaster. Take a bulb or elephant garlic, cut the top, and roast it. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, and eat right out of the peels. The reason my family hates it, is I already eat a lot of garlic. From adding to my scrambled eggs, with a little goat cheese and herbs, to minced raw garlic topping on my salad, to garlic herb butter on my steak. Eating roasted puts me over the edge. I start to ooze garlic out my pores. I smell like walking garlic for a few days until it works out of my system. Apparently can smell from a few feet away. I never notice.

As I said in an earlier post garlic is a component in the cold remedy. Garlic has been known to repel parasites, aid in digestion, antimicrobial, antibacterial, improve respiratory problems, and improve low energy. It has been shown to improve cardiovascular and cholesterol related issues. It has shown in some studies to increase good cholesterol and decrease bad cholesterol. Some studies have shown that regular use of garlic in the diet can reduce high blood pressure and even regulate blood sugar levels. During World War II it was used as an antiseptic. Garlic has been used to treat infections, and administered for treatment of chest colds, digestive disorders, and fungal infections such as thrush. Garlic has also been successful in China in treating AIDS patients with certain types of infections and ailments.

The sticky juice of the garlic has been used to glue glass and porcelain together, and even as an insecticide in organic gardening with diluted and sprayed over plants.

If you are looking to add garlic to your gardens, whether it is vegetable or ornamental gardens, fall is the time to buy. A little bit of garlic can go a long way. 1lb of garlic bulbs can yield 10 lbs of garlic next spring. If not wanting to plant garlic to eat, perhaps just plant as insect and pest control. It is also good against molds, and bacteria and viruses that attack ornamental plants. The less people spray they better off we will all be. While I think of garlic as a wonder plant/herb my family is not so keen on the herb. As my wife says “Everything in moderation, and honey…you over did the garlic again… you are banned until you stop stinking.” Yet I don’t get sick very often, and can eat all kinds of food not good for me (mmm fried foods). My cholesterol is low, and I have really low blood pressure for someone my age, weight, and dietary intake. Now there is an idea. Combine my favorite. Fried garlic in some way? Off to the kitchen to experiment…while the wife is still at work.

Herb Blurb – Parsley

               Many people think of parsley as just another condiment or a garnish on a plate, but parsley has many benefits beyond garnish. For starters you can and should grow parsley in your gardens. It is a biannual and after the first year establishes will come back again stronger. I have had relatively good success planting and harvesting parsley here in Indiana. Last year’s drought took its toll on many of my plants. What plants survived the horde (aka the chickens) has done well now that I have protected it from them. There doesn’t seem to be anything that they won’t eat.

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Something I didn’t know and again learned recently that there are two crops from parsley. The green tops most commonly used here in the US but also the root. After the first year the parsley plant grows a large tap root to help it survive winters.  This tap root is edible and used commonly in and around Europe in soups and stews. The downside is that after harvesting you will no longer be able to harvest the leaves, which means you will just have to plant more. Some for harvesting the tops, and some for harvesting the roots.

                Besides using parsley in everyday cooking I like to use it in my cold remedy. This will be a series on the components of that remedy starting with parsley. Parsley has anti microbial and antibacterial properties. I recently learned that it also has shown anti cancer properties. Parsley is loaded with antioxidants and has loads of vitamin C and A. Some studies have suggested that it also can help with arthritis, is healthy for the heart, and the anticancer properties have shown promise in colon and cervical cancers.

                Parsley can take a while to grow as the germination time from seed is four to six weeks. I plan on starting my next batch of parsley December-January timeframe. I know, middle of wither here in Indiana right? But this early start allows for a longer growing season. By the time the last frost comes, my plants will be 4-6 inches tall and already on their way to producing for me. This means I can harvest some of the leaves as early as March or April when many people are just starting to think about gardening. It prefers well drained soil and full sun. It can be grown indoors or out, and in the ground or in containers. I currently have my parsley in container gardens, but plan on adding it to one of my herb spirals for next year out at The Farm.

                When I have harvested in the past, I would only collect the leaves. Or cut a large bunch, then chop off the leaves and either dehydrate or use fresh. Lately I have been saving the stems and freezing them. These stems are what I use as part of my cold remedy or to flavor stocks. Whenever I have a component if a vegetable or plant I am not eating directly I save for when we make stock. Parsley stems for example, or the tops and bottoms of onions, or the tops and bottoms of celery. While I don’t eat them directly I wouldn’t dare throw them out. I save it until I have enough to make a stock. Read more about stocks and cold remedy on another post.

                Parsley can be eaten raw or cooked. Raw parsley is said to cleanse the palette and freshen the breath. There are many juicing and smoothie recipes using fresh parsley. Try making it an addition to meals prepared at home.

Herb Blurb – Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm also known as Melissa officinalis, spreads and is part of the mint family. Rubbing the leaves you will get a lemon scent hence the name. In summer it has white flowers and is a pollinator attractor. Because it attracts bees so well it was given the name Melissa or Greek for “honey bee”. Lemon balm is as invasive as other members of the mint family and should be planted in containers or other was contained if spreading is not desired.

Lemon balm is used in candies, ice cream, teas both hot and cold, and is the main ingredient in lemon balm pesto. In teas it is used as a mild calming agent or sedative. The extracts from lemon balm have been shown to have high antioxidant properties.

There have been numerous studies involving lemon balm. From reducing stress in agitated people in a control group to reduction in obesity. Some studies have shown when drank in a tea given to people with regular exposure to radiation, the DNA degradation, and increased plasma levels. While it is known it inhibits the thyroid medication thyroxine it however inhibits antithyrotropic activity and may lead to treatments for Graves’ disease or hyperthyroidism. The extracts from lemon balm have show to improve mental performance and even shown positive results in testing with Alzheimer’s patients. It has both antimicrobial and antiviral properties and has shown to be effective against herpes simplex.

At our homestead we use it as a mosquito and fly repellant in addition to a flavoring for teas. Three of the four kids including myself react harshly to mosquito bites and we have lemon balm growing all over our homestead. Any time one of walks out it is now a habit to grab a handful and rub the leaves all over any exposed skin. This has kept the mosquitoes at bay and prevented us from using any harsh chemicals or pesticides.

We regularly harvest and dry the leaves and dehydrate for longer term storage. We also sell plants from our herb gardens to start your own natural medicinal and culinary herb garden. Use the contact us page for purchasing.

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Herb Blurb – Catnip – Not just for cats

Catnip is not just for cats. Nepeta cataria has many beneficial properties. While most of us know it for the “drug” we give to our cats to make them loopy for a while and act like a kitten again, it is of use in the garden, for insects, and even for people. It looks like a member of the mint family but has a square stem with green-grey leaves. The flowers can be purple or pink. Catnip is an attractant to butterflies and cats. Like my favorite lemon balm, it is also a mosquito and fly repellent in addition to cockroaches, and termites. The chemical terpenoid nepetalactone is the main component of the essential oil which is obtained through steam distillation. Have no fear, you do not need steam distillation equipment to harness the benefits. For fly and mosquito repellant on your person simply pick a few stems and leaves and rub on your skin. Enough pressure needs to be applied to release the oils in the plant. When done it should look slightly crushed and dark green. Research has shown that catnip also attract beneficial insects such as lacewings which eat aphids and mites. Catnip is drought tolerant, and can also respell certain insects such as aphids and squash bugs. Additional research has shown that the essential oil of catnip is ten times more effective repelling mosquitoes than DEET the active ingredient in most insect repellents. Be careful as catnip can be evasive and spread like mint. To keep it contained you can plant in pots or containers around your garden. It WILL attract your neighborhood cats. You can also harvest it and dry it. Either in a dehydrator, hang upside down in a cool dry place, or even hang outside in the sun. Once dry take the leaves and put in a sealed bag.

Catnip has a long history of being used as a digestive aid. It’s a natural sedative that also helps to ease digestion, colic and diarrhea. Dehydration caused by diarrhea, and high body temperatures caused by fevers can be life-threatening. A tea brewed from its leaves may help alleviate these symptoms. Catnip is also a mild sedative that naturally helps calm the nerves during stressful situations.

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Herb Blurb – Aloe Vera, a wonder plant.

Aloe has many uses beyond the treatment of sunburn. Aloe is loaded with vitamins and minerals. Some people are not aware that you can eat aloe and use it’s juices. Aloe is also loaded with between 18-20 amino acids and contains sterols such as HCL cholesterol which lowers fats in the blood. Aloe Vera is a well-known adaptogen. An adaptogen is something that boosts the body’s natural ability to adapt to external changes and resist illness. Aloe is known to soothe and cleanse the digestive tract and help improve digestion. Because it is a gelatinous plant, it can help remove wastes from the body as it moves through the digestion tract. It is a known vulnerary, (meaning it helps heal wounds) and is great for applying topically to burns, abrasions, psoriasis and even to bug bites. Aloe acts as an analgesic, acting to help relieve pain of wounds. Aloe is a Disinfectant, Anti-biotic, Anti-microbial, Germicidal, Anti-bacterial, Anti-septic, Anti-fungal & Anti-viral. Aloe Vera contains 12 substances, including B-sisterole, which can help to slow down or inhibit inflammation. Improving your digestion, and detoxifying your will have a secondary effect in promoting weight loss.

We now have several plants available for sale. $5 per plant. Use the contact us page for details.

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