Herbs are good for you. We’ve known this for centuries. Herbalists and ancient apothecaries have been using herbs for hundreds of years to cure illnesses. These days we rely more on pharmaceutical drugs to heal us, and use herbs for flavoring our food. But really, give these healthy herbs a try the next time you’re feeling unwell, and you might be impressed by their healing powers.
What are herbs, though? Simply put, they are any plants where the flowers, seeds or leaves are used for their flavor, medicinal value or scent.
Here are ten of the best herbs to take daily. You could put them in your food or take capsules filled with their concentrates. But don’t ignore these useful herbs for good health. You could even grow some quite easily in your kitchen garden!
We’re all familiar with these yellow flowers. The farmers in the northern hemisphere treat dandelions like weeds. The young leaves make delicious salads and sandwiches, or you can boil them like you would spinach.
But what makes dandelion one of the best herbs to take daily is its excellent digestive properties. It’s a mild diuretic. This makes it great for improving any issues in your gastrointestinal tract. You could use any part of the herb and make a dish, a tincture, infusion or honey to improve your gall bladder and liver function. It’s also generally safe and easy to find.
In the 14th century, rosemary root was steeped in wine vinegar. This solution was used to wash the feet of a thief to sap him of his strength and tendencies to steal! Whether or not this actually worked – and whether the thief would actually allow anyone to wash his feet – isn’t known.
What we know about rosemary today is that it’s great for indigestion, killing some pathogens that come through food, and may prevent breast cancer. These are excellent reasons to include this wonder-herb in your diet. It’s one of the most useful herbs for good health, and it makes meat taste great!
In the past, people would hang bunches of chives from the doorway to drive away evil. It’s not certain whether it usually worked. But today, scientists think chives may be great at lowering the risk of gastric cancer.
Chives make a delicious garlicky or onion-flavored garnish on your baked potatoes, in pasta, salads and even in cooked recipes. It’s one of those fantastic healthy herbs we should eat more of than we probably do!
Stinging Nettle is not fun to touch. Its fine hairs can release a chemical that can cause a very painful reaction. But it’s also a very useful little herb. Cooking kills the sting, so the leaves are great for soup or nettle tea. Steamed nettles are delicious topped with sesame seeds and vinegar.
You can drink nettle tea everyday as a tonic, and you’ll find it is good for treating joint pain. It’s a good diuretic, so it’s used to treat urinary problems linked to urinary tract infections and an enlarged prostate. It’s good for treating hay fever too.
You probably shouldn’t eat garlic before a date. But it’s one of the best herbs to take daily. (Did you think garlic wasn’t a herb?) Garlic has mild anti-inflammatory properties and is rich in flavanoids. Flavanoids help you boost your immune system. Studies suggest that garlic may protect you against heart attacks and strokes. It has the capacity to lower bad cholesterol. Now if only it didn’t leave such a strong scent in the mouth!
Many of us love delicious, sweet cinnamon in our ice creams, apple pies and cinnamon toast. But did you know that this ‘herb’ can help you stabilize blood sugar? Some studies suggest that taking cinnamon daily – up to about a teaspoon a day – may help people who have type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar levels after meals. Maybe you could replace sugar with cinnamon in your desserts altogether for its anti-diabetic goodness.
Turmeric spice as you know it is derived from a herby root tuber that looks like ginger. It is also one of the best herbs to take daily. The Indians cook with it, and use the paste to help heal wounds. It is also made into a tea for use against colds and problems in the respiratory tract.
As for its benefits, there is some suggestion that the curcumin found in turmeric is actually anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It can help to relieve arthritic pain. It can also keep the pain away after a dentist’s visit! It might be good against Alzheimer’s, diabetes and maybe even some cancers!
Ginger is one of the most useful herbs for good health. And you can see the results quickly too. Have an unsettled stomach? Chew a bit of ginger or drink some ginger tea. This herb is also great for dealing with nausea after chemotherapy or surgery. It’s also great for fighting inflammation, soothing sore muscles and reducing the pain caused by osteoarthritis. It’s one of the healthy herbs you can take daily – even capsules will do. If you exercise regularly, you’ll find daily ginger in your food actually reduces the aches from sore muscles!
Parsley is another herb with many stories revolving around it. It used to be called the Devil’s Herb, apparently because the seed went to the Devil and returned nine times before it sprouted. If you grew it in your cottage garden, people would be afraid of you! Parsley was often linked with death, and used to decorate tombs.
Today we use it to flavor our soups, salads, meats, and it’s a fantastic little herb. There is some research to suggest that parsley may inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells. Experts suggest adding a pinch of the chopped leaves everyday to your meal everyday. It may also be good against hypertension.
Bay leaves add a delicious flavor to stews, especially in stews prescribed for colds. This is because a compound called cineole present in bayleaf is good for clearing up your sinus. (So, breathe in the stew before you eat!). Bay leaves may also be good for treating arthritis, preventing heart disease and boosting the immune system.
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