Wednesday 13 May 2009

Hooray for Fresh Herbs!

In keeping with my commitment to continually expand my knowledge base of natural healing aids, I attended a workshop on medicinal herbs, and wanted to share my new found wisdom.

The theme of the workshop was the importance of fresh herbs. Maria, the workshop facilitator, could not say enough wonderful things about fresh herbs. Whether it be growing them, cooking with them, drinking them in tea, or slathering them on our bodies, fresh herbs are essential to optimal health. Did you know that all the living greens we ingest go straight to the liver, and contribute to the body’s purification processes? Ultimately, consuming living green things, in whatever form, makes for cleaner blood, happier organs, and a healthier life. So doesn’t it make sense for us to incorporate fresh herbs, rich in nutrients, into our diet, versus consuming processed foods and beverages?!

Due to time constraints, we specifically focused solely on two aspects of herbs: teas and salves.

Let’s start with tea. Simple to prepare, yet huge health benefits. Here's the steps to making a herbal tea:

Clean fresh herbs (you don’t need to wash them, unless they have a lot of dirt on them)
2) Boil water in a pot,

3) Put the herbs in the boiled pot, put the lid on, and let steep for 15 minutes.

Voila! The tea we prepared required no sweetener whatsoever; it was so tasty all on its own.

Note: It is best to use fresh herbs, as opposed to dry, to produce the most flavourful tea.

**From personal experimentation post workshop, I would suggest using a maximum of three herbs per tea. Too many herbs can be overwhelming for the body.

For heat conditions such as high blood pressure, headaches, skin eruptions, and blotchy red skin, the following herbs are useful: chamomile, mint, raspberry leaf, and lemon verbena. These herbs are considered cooling to the body, and help with the conditions mentioned above.

Useful herbs for hair growth are: rosemary, stinging nettles, and horse tail.

Good grounding teas can be made with these herbs: dandelion and burdock root.

Comfrey is a particularly excellent herb for treating muscle and joint pain.

Lots of choices for making teas!!

For chronic, long standing health ailments you can make a tea infusion. You take a big handful of fresh herbs, put it into a 1L jar, add boiled water, and leave it for at least four hours, or overnight.

Let’s move onto salves (aka cream or ointment). At the workshop we made a salve using herbs of comfrey, lavender, and calendula. This herb combination is excellent for helping to heal minor scrapes, and burns, and is a lavish treat for the skin; your skin will literally drink it up. It was so delicious, that I have been savouring the last of my take-home sample!

To make a salve, you need the following supplies:

Fresh herbs (4 cups) (you can change the amount of herbs, but keep the ratio the same)
Olive oil (4 cups)
Beeswax (1 cup)
A big pot
A big bowl (ceramic, glass, or stainless, that will sit on top of the pot and not fall in)
A big plate or covering for the bowl
a few glass jars (with wide openings, so you can access the salve once in the jar)

Making a salve takes a bit more time and energy than making tea, yet definitely easier than I originally thought.

Here's what you do:

1) Fill the pot with water and boil
2) Put the big bowl on top of the pot and fill bowl with oil, beeswax, and herbs
3) Keep the burner on low heat, cover the bowl with plate, and heat the mixture for a half hour
4) Once this is done, strain the liquid mixture into the jars, and allow the salve to harden and cool


Drinking medicinal teas daily can aid in treating a wide range of health ailments, and many of them taste great too! As for the salves, who wouldn't want to slather themselves in a purely light natural cream?! Both require small investments, with a huge payoff. Hip hip hooray for fresh herbs!!

For more information on Maria, check out her website: