Herbs: Not Just for Cooking


Using the Green

When most people think of herbs, the first thing that may come to mind is tasty seasonings, such as basil, rosemary and thyme, that enhance our food and create mouth-watering meals. That’s not all they’re good for. Rather, herbs are used for all sorts of reasons, some expected, some unexpected, and some that we might’ve never considered.What Are Herbs?

A leading dictionary defines a herb as “any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers used for flavoring, food, medicine, or perfume.” The broad definition could apply to far more plants than are in my spice cabinet. Plants like aloe, chamomile, and lavender fit under that definition, and it made me think. Perhaps I should change my idea of herbs, and more importantly, their purpose.Herbs for Our Yard

It’s fairly simple to go to a local home improvement store and pick up some brand of insecticide to rid our yards and homes of unwanted pests. There is no need to engage in chemical warfare with Mother Nature. According to several herbal centers, lavender repels fleas, flies, and mosquitoes, basil repels house flies, and lemon grass repels mosquitoes, too. These are just a few examples of natural herbs that will help with pest control. You can also do your research and try out books like this one to find which herbs might work best in your own yard.Herbs for Cosmetics

Does your concealer dry out your skin? Is your exfoliator making your skin flake? What about your scalp? Fortunately, there are several herbal treatments for these concerns. According to the National Library of Medicine, petals from potted marigolds are excellent skin soothers for cosmetics and products like diaper cremes. Chamomile and comfrey help with dandruff, as well. If you accumulate too much oil, you can try adding witch hazel to your shampoo. These are just a few examples of the power of natural herbs. Feel free to research or consult a local herbal shop for more information and treatments of herbs in cosmetics.Herbs for Medical Treatment

I would wager that most of us are more comfortable going to a doctor’s office for a cure than to the farmers market, however, home remedies have been around for thousands of years with significant success. Most of the healing techniques that are still used today revolve around the careful extraction of herbs added to chemical treatments for effectiveness. I would consult your doctor before you practice any home remedy, but here are a few to ask about next time you’re in for a check-up:


  • For Nervousness: A cup of chamomile tea will do you some good. According to the National Library of Medicine, some compounds in chamomile (Matricaria recutita) bind to the same brain receptors as drugs like Valium.
  • For Sunburn: Aloe vera has soothing properties that helps treat sunburn and can be at your disposal anytime you need it. A sturdy indoor plant, keep one in your windowsill at home for whenever you spend a little too much time outside.
  • For Energy: To increase energy levels without getting the jitters, try green tea as an excellent substitute for coffee. One of its compounds called L-theanine produces both feelings of alertness and keeps the heart rate from going up, creating the feeling of relaxation.
  • For Sleeplessness: Counting sheep isn’t helping? No worries. Consuming the herb valerian will send you into dreamland relatively quickly. Used as a recommended sleep-aid in Germany, this herb relaxes and sedates even the most restless mind.
  • For Relaxation: Yet another use for this brilliant herb, lavender has been tested to produce relaxation and calmness. All that’s in order to create a relaxing atmosphere is to make sure the room smells like lavender.
  • For Digestive Issues: Coriander, which is used in many Indian dishes, actually has been shown to aid in digestive health. Another herb for the same treatment is Cilantro, love it or hate it, is good at removing heavy metals and other toxins from your gut.
  • For Dry Cough: Mullein, a relatively unknown herb, has been shown to ease dry cough and chest congestion from most colds.
  • For Pain: Depending on the type of pain you’re experiencing, there might be a natural remedy for you. In addition to helping stomach upset, ginger has been shown to be an effective anti-inflammatory agent. Feverfew, another plant, can also be used to treat migraines and arthritis pain.

As you can see, herbs are beneficial plants that can improve our day-to-day lives. The uses are relatively endless and can reduce our reliance on chemical solutions to a variety of humanity’s problems. I hope you’ve learned a little more about herbs, as I certainly did!

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