Updated: Nov 18, 2021
Most of us equate using herbs in cooking. Plants and plant parts have been valued for their medicinal, savory and aromatic qualities (Merriam Webster]. Herbs can be used to season and flavor a recipe. They are also used in fragrances, as natural medicines, and remedies.
How Do You Start Incorporating Herbs into Everyday Life?
Decide if you are using them to prevent illness, to relieve a symptom of an ailment, or both.
How Do I Use Herbs?
You can season your food with them, make infusions, tinctures, extracts, decoctions, syrups, or use essential oils.
Essential oils can be used for aromatherapy, medicinal treatments, skin care, and for cleaning your home. They are most commonly made by distilling or extracting the different parts of plants, including the flowers, leaves, bark, roots, resin and peels. Volatile oils are types of essential oils which easily vaporize. Essential oils are often used for their detoxifying, antibacterial, antiviral, stimulating, antidepressant or calming qualities. Distillation separates the oil from the plant. The most common way is by steaming.
Carrier Oils; What are They?
Some of the essential oils that are thought to be beneficial to you. They can irritate your skin if directly applied. It is like a base. They are made from vegetable oil often to dilute the essential oil so you can put it on your skin or use it for aromatherapy. They are most commonly made through processes called cold press or maceration.
I recently made my own Elderberry with ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and honey. I have tried the prepared syrups. They are expensive and used with alcohol so they last longer. Some don’t mind it but I wasn’t a fan. The biggest mistake I made was making too much. There are no preservatives with this method. I made a quart jar size. The syrup will last a few weeks to a month. What will happen is the syrup will lose it’s potency. It was actually easy to make. I will use a quarter of the recipe next time.
Syrups are typically made to mask the bitter taste of an herb. Syrups are pretty versatile. You can add them to tea, use on pancakes, waffles, or pretty much anything you want.
During the COVID pandemic, good luck getting some disinfectant spray. Thank goodness for my daughter Lauren the Herbalist. As a nurse, every September I get ready for flu season. Disinfectant spray is key. Instead of the harsh chemicals, I am a fan of natural disinfectants. CDC has a list of effective organic disinfectants. Most common essential oils are tea tree, lavender, geranium, lemon, and eucalyptus. These are thought to have anti-fungal, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. I use lavender and eucalyptus oil because of the scent. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cleaning-disinfection.html)
I have used hydrosols as well. They are sprays which are water based and used water soluble ingredients. I like to use them for my facial toner. You can them on your skin as a moisturizer as well. People use them in aromatherapy diffusers. If you are looking to use them on your skin, decide what you need them for. I use them to moisturize. Some can be used for acne, for oily skin, or dry skin.
I don’t think I have to say too much…. There are a few important ways to use the teas. You can do a hot infusion or a cold infusion. It really depends on the herb. Some herbs can take the heat and some can’t. In a hot infusion you are withdrawing the vitamin, oil, and/or enzyme you are looking to gain the benefit from. Some common herbs for this process are ginger root, red clover, horsetail, and raspberry leaf. Cold infusions are used on the fragile herbs and essential oils. The heat can damage them and render the therapeutic benefit ineffective. The most common herbs used in cold infusions are called mucilaginous. Examples are aloe vera, licorice root, okra, marshmallow, and flax seed.
Clays are not just used for face masks. Gardeners use some clays for pest control (kaolin). Many use Bentonite clay as a skin care mask, bath, and soap. Some will use it on their hair or on their eyes to reduce puffiness. Some people use clay on babies to prevent diaper rash. It’s cheaper and though to be more effective than expensive creams. People will use it as a detoxification and take it orally.
As a nurse, I am very particular about the herbs and essential oils I want to use. My daughter Lauren is an herbalist, has certifications in culinary art, nutrition, and most importantly is a mother. WE only sell products with lab testing or USDA certified. I don’t want products with heavy metals, micafungin, or other material which could harm me or you. We use the products we sell. We do not want to sell any product with them either. They have to pass strict standards to receive their stamp.