Herbs are broadly defined as any plant or plant part used to promote health. They are full of flavour, low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals, making them a good addition to any meal. Historically, before herbs and spices were widely used in the kitchen, they were recognized and used for their medicinal properties in ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, India, and China. Many edible flowers enhance health and are useful for their flavour too.
Herbs, edible flowers and spices offer a variety of natural, health-enhancing properties to be exploited. They guarantee a colourful, culinary adventure! If you have an underlying health condition, take medication or supplements, consult with your doctor before using herbal remedies to rule out adverse side-effects or reactions with medications and supplements.
“Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food.”
Health Benefits of Herbs & Spices: A to Z
Aloe vera is known for its antibacterial, antiviral, and antiseptic properties. The gel contains most of the beneficial bioactive compounds in the plant, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants.
Used topically to treat sores and burns, including sunburn.
Improves skin moisture and integrity.
Basil has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties that boost the immune system.
Shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress.
Boosts mental alertness and memory.
Calendula possesses several antioxidants that boost immunity.
Used topically to soothe itchy, irritated, and inflamed skin conditions including acne, eczema and most rashes.
Dried flowers can be used to make a tea that promotes healing from infections and sore throat.
Chamomile contains apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to certain receptors in your brain that may promote sleepiness and reduce insomnia.
A natural remedy for diarrhoea, stomach ulcers, nausea and gas, likely due to its anti-inflammatory effects.
Its calming effects can alleviate symptoms of stress and anxiety, and headaches or migraines.
Like onions and garlic, chives contain allicin, a compound that may lower cholesterol and blood sugar.
They contain several compounds with antioxidant powers, that protect against aging-related diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and from degenerative conditions like heart disease and cancer.
Coriander is packed with fibre, iron and magnesium.
It may benefit heart health by promoting HDL cholesterol while reducing LDL cholesterol.
It may fight inflammation caused by skin ailments.
It may aid digestion and gut health.
Dill is a good source of vitamin C, manganese, and vitamin A.
It may benefit overall heart health; bone health & fight harmful bacteria.
Fennel and fennel seeds provide important nutrients like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and manganese.
Fennel is rich in fibre, and its vitamin C content makes it a great immunity booster.
Known throughout history as an effective digestive aid, fennel can be eaten, prepared as a tea, and chewed in seed form.
Garlic is one of the best herbs for all-around health:
It helps fight infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi, and is thought to be a powerful remedy for the common cold and flu.
It’s a well-known anti-inflammatory.
Offers antioxidant properties, which can boost the immune system and fight degenerative conditions related to aging.
Can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and prevent or eliminate plaque build-up in the arteries.
Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger, responsible for much of ginger’s medicinal properties, possessing powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Ginger is a traditional remedy for nausea and vomiting, and can treat chronic indigestion by increasing the rate of stomach emptying.
Its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties help relieve symptoms of arthritis, muscle pain, and cramps.
Can significantly reduce in LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and blood triglyceride levels.
Can help protect against age-related decline in brain function.
Consumed as a tea, ginger warms the body from the inside and can help reduce fevers.
Best known for its distinctive fragrance, which is known for its calming effects. It is commonly used in aromatherapy to help reduce stress, anxiety, sleeplessness and headaches.
Serves as a mild antimicrobial as well as an anti-inflammatory and anti-itch remedy.
When applied to the skin, lavender oils have shown positive results in helping with eczema, acne, sunburns, and diaper rash.
It repels insects.
Lemon balm is a classic ‘feel-good’ herb, used for its calming qualities – it can ease symptoms of anxiety and stress,
It may aid digestion.
It’s a popular sleep aid for people suffering from insomnia, specifically when prepared in a tea with other calming herbs like chamomile.
Lemongrass has anti-oxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
It can promote healthy digestion and is often consumed as a tea for its stomach-calming effects, including relief from cramps, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
It may help reduce blood pressure and regulate cholesterol
Its relaxing aroma makes it one of the most popular essential oils in the world, believed to reduce anxiety.
Mint is a good source of vitamin A and antioxidants.
Menthol, one of its primary compounds, helps relax muscles along the digestive tract and can relieve gas, cramps, bloating, nausea, and diarrhoea.
Menthol can provide some relief to cold and flu symptoms by subjectively improving breathing through the nose.
The aroma of peppermint essential oil has been shown to improve aspects of alertness and memory.
The flowers and leaves contain a variety of minerals and health-promoting compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
The leaves contain vitamin C and can help fight infections. Nasturtium tea can help treat coughs, colds, the flu, and bronchitis.
When applied topically as a compress, nasturtium has been used to soothe minor skin irritations and muscle pain.
Oregano contains thymol, the primary flavour component of thyme, which has antibacterial, antiseptic, and antioxidant properties.
Commonly used in cough medicines, where it helps break up phlegm, as well as in mouthwashes and toothpastes to fight infection and tooth decay.
Parsley contains vitamins A, C, and K, as well as iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium.
It is particularly rich in a class of antioxidants known as flavonoids which may lower your risk of conditions, including colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Rose hips are loaded with the antioxidant vitamin C. Pr