So you’re thinking about planting some delicious healing herbs? In today’s post I’m going to focus on a few of the herbs you’ll find in European dishes, how to grow them, how best to use them and their healing properties.
Basil is a very useful, popular herb. It is best planted once the temperatures start to warm up as it is very sensitive to frost, and it needs to be kept moist during extremely hot weather (and even placed in filtered shade). Otherwise, it’s fairly hardy and can also be planted in a pot. Harvest it regularly and remove the flowers if they appear. This will keep the new shoots and leaves coming. There are many different varieties of basil so try them and find your favourite.
Tomato, cheese, Mediterranean vegetables and olive oil all match perfectly with the flavour of basil. I personally love basil pesto or a Caprese salad (tomato, basil, fresh mozzarella, EV olive oil). I always include it into any Italian sauce and often into salads. Just make sure, if cooking with basil, to always add the leaves at the very end of the cooking process to retain its wonderful flavour. The woody stems can be added earlier.
Medicinally, holy basil is a good digestive, antibacterial, anti fungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and a lovely stress relieving adaptogen (amongst many other things).
A slow growing but very hardy, low care herb that likes to grow in a sunny, well-drained position with good airflow. It’s also happy in a pot. It has a strong flavour so bear that in mind when deciding how much to use.
Always partner with lamb and even pork and I also love it sprinkled over baked potatoes with lashings of butter and garlic.
Medicinally, rosemary is a potent antioxidant, calming and soothing to the digestive system and also great for the circulation (and headaches). It makes a great digestive, nerve and circulation tea by simply bruising then seeping a sprig in hot water. When I was a student way back when I would always rub a sprig of Rosemary between my palms and then inhale the scent deeply to boost my alertness (the things naturopathic students do)! I really felt it helped spark me up (and was a great exam aid).
There are lots of different varieties of thyme, my favourite is common thyme and lemon thyme. It likes a sunny position and well-drained moist soil. It will also grow happily in a pot.
I love thyme with mushrooms, chicken, lamb and fish. Add lemon thyme towards the end of cooking or the lemon scent will disappear.
Thyme is a fabulous antibacterial herb, especially for the respiratory system. It is great for drying up mucous and reducing coughs. A gargle of thyme tea soothes a sore throat. It is also very anti parasitic to the digestive tract.
This is a less popular herb where people either love or hate it’s delicate aniseed flavour. It likes a sunny, or partially shaded position and moist, well-drained soil. It will also grow in a pot.
It is most commonly encountered in béarnaise sauce on steak or in stuffing. I think it is a match made in heaven with chicken and often stuff it under the skin when I roast.
Medicinally, tarragon has been used empirically to calm the stomach (relieves stomach cramps) and generally assist digestion and liver function. It is also anti-parasitic.
This information is solely for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice or to take the place of medical advice. Use these herbs in your cooking for their flavour and pure deliciousness. For more information on their medicinal uses, please seek the advice of a health care practitioner.
See this delicious, healing recipe which incorporates all of these herbs and more, click here.