09 Apr Garden herbs for natural health and beauty
Whilst HRI Herbal Medicine is all about producing the UK’s very best licensed herbal remedies in tablet form, we also love to use garden herbs for natural health and beauty as part of our everyday regime.
Before you start enjoying herbs from your garden or window box, do make sure you know exactly what you’re doing, as some can be very dangerous if you don’t use them properly. If you are ingesting herbs or putting them on your skin, always test a small amount first in case you have any sort of intolerance or allergy. Never over-do the use of herbs – a little usually goes a long way. And steer clear of DIY herbal recipes if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have a chronic health condition.
Whilst it is lovely to make the most of the herbs that grow naturally in our gardens at home, do remember that if you are looking for symptomatic relief from everyday health or beauty problems, you should always choose a licensed herbal remedy that carries the Traditional Herbal Registration (THR) logo.
So with the health warnings out of the way, here are some of our favourite garden herbs and natural plants with some ideas of how you can use them to boost your natural health and beauty regime.
Basil is a powerful herb associated with helping to improve skin, fight free radicals and support the gut.
One of the most delicious ways to eat lots of Basil is in pesto, and If you have only ever had it from a jar, you will be amazed at the difference in the taste of fresh, home-made pesto. It really takes very little time to whizz it all together, and the mix of pine nuts and basil provide health-boosting anti-oxidant benefits into the bargain. If you have basil in your garden, then using freshly picked herbs will make it taste even better as you’ll get that fresh basil taste.
Here’s our favourite pesto recipe from BBC Good Food. You will need:
50g pine nuts
50g parmesan or vegetarian alternative
150ml olive oil
2 garlic cloves.
Check out the recipe online for instructions on putting it together.
This is one of our favourite herbs – as much for the taste as for the many benefits it provides which include helping to relieve headaches and ease menstrual cramps. Peppermint is actually a hybrid plant, which is a cross between watermint and spearmint
You may have already tried fresh mint tea, made by infusing peppermint leaves in hot water either at home or in a restaurant after an Indian or Asian meal.
Hot tea is great, but have you tried it cold? Once it’s cooled, pop your peppermint infused water in the fridge and drink it to rehydrate and refresh after running or your exercise class, or as a gentle way to ease a gassy tummy.
For the perfect de-stresser following a long or difficult day, look no further than lavender. Hang a bunch under the tap while you run a relaxing bath to infuse the water with lavender oils, or just crush some fresh lavender between your palms and inhale for a fragrant mood-booster.
Have you ever tried putting a sprig inside your pillowcase? Not only does it help aid restful sleep but it also gives a lovely aroma to fresh bed linen into the bargain!
If you want a relaxing bedtime drink, there is nothing quite like a chamomile tea. Dry your chamomile before adding hot water, and if you like a sweet taste, add a teaspoonful of honey for a tasty and calming bedtime drink.
If you struggle with hay fever or a bunged up nose, rosemary could be your best friend. It contains high levels of rosmarinic acid and when sniffed, acts a bit like a nasal decongestant. Just rub it between your palms and inhale for a fragrant but effective way to clear congestion and reduce the effects of pollen-related allergies.
If you’re lucky enough to have your own aloe plant, it’s probably on a window sill in your house rather than out in the garden, but it is fairly easy to grow as long as you don’t over-water it.
You’re probably familiar with aloe vera gel (most of us use it to soothe sore skin after staying out in the sun a little too long on holiday).
But did you know you can use aloe sap straight from the leaf? Many people swear by it to help improve the texture of a crepey neck, and of course, it is very popular to help with mild sunburn.
Sage tea is surprisingly delicious and has long been associated with helping to reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels. The main compounds in sage tea may also help to regulate blood pressure and prevent serious diseases such as heart attack and blood clots.
Dry small sprigs of sage in a warm dry place – an airing cupboard is ideal – then steep it in boiling water for a couple of minutes before drinking. A spoonful of honey makes it deliciously sweet.
Many of us use dried garlic from the supermarket in our everyday cooking, and its delicious taste and widely-held health benefits make it a favourite for meat-eaters, veggies and vegans alike. Scientists say most of garlic’s health benefits are due to the sulfur compounds that are formed when a garlic clove is chopped, crushed or chewed.
If you have garlic in your garden, you can use it fresh for a more pungent taste, and you can even use the delicate white flowers in a tasty summer salad.
When you’ve enjoyed your garlic, you may want to reach for the parsley! Whether you choose the flat-leaf or curly variety, parsley is a great way of giving you naturally fresh breath – just chew a couple of sprigs after you’ve eaten pungent foods such as garlic or onions.
Parsley is also rich in vitamins A, C and K, which is vital for bone health and to support blood clotting.
Staying safe with herbal medicines
Whilst garden herbs are great for recipes or an occasional pick-me-up, if you need herbal medicine, be sure to choose ones that carry the Traditional Herbal Registration (THR) logo. This is your guarantee of quality and safety as it shows it has been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency.
The British Herbal Medicine Association has a useful website that lets you check which herbal remedy is right to help support your health or deal with your symptoms.
If you are interested in finding out news and information about a natural approach to supporting your health, beauty and wellbeing, why not follow HRI Herbal on Facebook @HRIHerbal?