• Tag Archives Herbs
  • Health Benefits in Using Herbs in our Diets

    Health Benefits in Using Herbs in our Diets

    By Laura D. Field of Potpourri of Health ~ Jan 03, 2018

    Herbs have been around since life began. It is part of our natural landscape of nutritional food. Yet over the years the scope of their health benefits seemed to have been lost as prepared foods and medications, whether over-the-counter or via prescription, took their place.

    There is a wave of awakening in utilizing herbs as medicine. People who desire to enjoy a healthy lifestyle, a change and/or having no benefit from the pharmaceutical industry for illnesses that seem to have no resolution, are seeking natural means for a healthier life. Not only can they be used as spices and seasonings in our food, they often times provide a huge benefit to our overall health.

    Plants and herbs have been used for centuries, and today herbalists and apothecaries are using them for themselves as well as others who seek this knowledge. One can easily have access to these herbs and herbal resources by nurturing small home herbal gardens, through naturopathic providers, health food stores, and many options online. Although rare, some allopathic physicians are also providing some suggestions to better improve your health, such as many are supporting the use of turmeric for pain.

    It is a known fact that eating a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and various protein sources, that we consume a healthy range of necessary vitamins, minerals, and cancer-fighting properties. Yet, many are unaware of the many nutrients that can be gained in the use of herbs, which easily can be added to their foods, made into teas, tinctures, etc.

    Our local supermarkets today, do carry a large variety of spices and herbs, and some of which are fresh and in the produce aisle, and sometimes one can find a few varieties as starter plants. One can have a larger variety of herbs at their disposal when they decide to grow their own, and often times as flowers.

    Briefly, just a small listing of benefits of some familiar herbs:

    Digestion: Herbs that are helpful for digestion can easily be acquired at most supermarkets are thyme, rosemary, oregano, and mint. When they are heating, their aroma is released, causing our salivary glands to work in preparation for our stomach to digest our food. This process actually helps the body break down the fats and starches in our healthy foods.

    Anti-Cancer: Due to the availability of flavonoids within fruits and vegetables, which also reduce the risk for heart attacks and stroke, herbs can supplement this activity. Onions, rosemary, sage, thyme, chamomile, dandelion, ginkgo, green tea, and milk thistle are some of the herbs that provide flavonoids, all of which help the vitamin C in our diets, to work more efficiently as an antioxidant, cleaning up the free radicals that can cause cancer.

    Tumor Prevention: Herbs contain phytochemicals (phyto = plant, naturally occurring vs. chemically prepared). These are also called terpenoids, which are potent antioxidants that protect our system, which help to inhibit the growth of tumors. Herbs that carry these naturally occurring chemicals are caraway, spearmint, dill, coriander, lavender, rosemary, sage, thyme, lemongrass, chamomile, basil, rosemary, mint, cardamom, celery seed, fennel and peppermint.

    Inflammation: Inflammation is a protective response to injury, damage and illness, which helps to naturally heal and repair. Factors that can lead to inflammation are a result of stressors such as food and chemical sensitivities, pollution, extra physical weight and disease. Inflammation can lead to common diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and various others. Herbs that help fight inflammation include: turmeric, green tea, white willow bark (natural form of aspirin), maritime pine bark, chili peppers (capsaicin), Frankincense (Boswella), black pepper, resveratrol, Cat’s claw, rosemary, cloves, ginger and cinnamon.

    Natural Antiseptics: Antiseptic herbs kill or inhibit the growth of microorganisms on the external surfaces of the body. Please note that the same antiseptic purposes are not the same as antibiotics that destroy the microorganisms from within, yet many herbs do provide both benefits, dependent upon how they are used/applied. When applied to wounds and infection, they help to prevent infection. Some of the herbs to consider are: thyme, Aloe Vera, burdock, clove, goldenseal, spikenard, sage, and garlic

    Immune system: Herbs that stimulate the immune system, promote the activity of lymphocytes, which are the type of cells circulating in the body. These invaders (herbs) help to eliminate viruses in our body. Herbs to consider in using are: garlic, onions, Echinacea, rosemary, sage, thyme, chamomile, dandelion, ginkgo, green tea and milk thistle.

    Heart Health: Substances referred to as catechins, are herbs that help to lower the bad cholesterol, helping to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Herbs to consider: onions, garlic, and green tea. Rosehip tea may also help to reduce the formation of harmful cholesterol.

    Health and Healing: Various health inconveniences can cause one to drive to the nearest pharmacy for the newest product for relief, when often; we can easily incorporate healthier options into our daily lives. An Aloe Vera plant on your windowsill can quickly help with a burn, by preventing blisters. For indigestion, you might already have peppermint or dill in your cabinet of spices. Elderberry tea or syrup from berries (whether fresh or dried) help with colds. Rosemary is a wonderful herb for seasoning food, but it is also great smelling plant and enhances your air quality while helping one sleep, and can improve ones concentration (great to have at your desk area).

    Taking care of oneself while using herbs: When taking herbs, it is equally important to keep your health care providers/specialists in the loop. Herbs can interact with Pharmaceutical medications, resulting in health effects your provider is trying to prevent with their treatment. In addition, some herbs, when used to excess, can be harmful to ones health.

    Other Notes:

    • Allopathic physicians are not specialists in herbal medicine, and they will often remind you of that when you discuss herbal options as an alternate to pharmaceuticals. And just because you desire herbal remedies, it does not negate the fact that physicians and specialists are quite valuable in our overall health. We need them as much as we need to be responsible for choosing to live a healthy life style.
    • Some herbs could cause an allergic response. For myself, sometimes an herb can cause an external response such as a rash with itching, yet when baked/cooked at the right temperature and amount of time, I can consume them. When working with a new herb and I find that I am getting a skin irritation and it is bothersome, I will take that fresh herb to my allergist and have her do a skin test on me, to determine if it is mild or severe. If it is severe, I stay clear of it.
    • Always be aware of what herbs can interfere with necessary medications, or which ones to stop prior to any surgical procedure. Herbs are very powerful plants. And although they are quite beneficial, they can also be quite harmful. Remember, herbs were our first form of medicine, and many pharmaceutical’s were developed by studying these herbs, in order to replicate them in a lab.
    • Some herbs should not be used if you are pregnant, trying to conceive or if you suffer from certain medical complaints.
    • Excessive use of some herbs can be harmful to one’s health.
    • If unsure, consult a professional medical herbalist for more information.

    In summary: Although the list of herbal suggestions in each category is limited, they are examples of herbs that are more widely know by most people. In addition, there are herbs that help in various other health concerns. This is why it is important to obtain solid information, preferably a specialist, before consuming. Also, health food stores are great resources for herbal options, not all health food stores have knowledgeable staff members and none of them know your unique health needs. Remember, you and your physician are the experts in your health and special needs. A retailer, who wants to help, could potentially recommend something that would actually cause harm rather than provide benefits.

    Wishing you health, happiness and balance,

    ~ Laura

    Laura D. Field – Blogger and paid Freelance writer

    Potpourri of Health www.potpourriofhealth.com
    Freelance writer at www.reflectivetapestryoflife.com
    Seamstress consultant at www.davinadawnsewing.com & www.seamstobeme.davinadawnsewing.com

  • Herbs: Pineapple Mint

    Herbs: Pineapple Mint

    Laura D. Field of Potpourri of Health – May 28, 2017

    This year, in my herb garden, I have added a few new mint varieties, one being the pineapple mint, which is a member of the apple mint family. I have no idea what inspired me to try this herb, but since I love drinking various herbal teas, with the intent of being self-sufficient in harvesting for cooking and use in teas without the dependency of purchasing herbal teas pre-packaged, I thought it would be interesting to see what this herb would be like.

    The pineapple mint has a citrus type aroma, with a very dark leaf. The leaf has a subtle off-white lace look on the edges of its leaves.

    Today is the first of my drinking it as a morning tea. For me the flavor is mild yet with a soft and pleasant, citrus type aroma, which I find to be calming. Then again, it is early in the AM with no other life around, not even the early morning birds singing their wake-up calls, so maybe it is the quite atmosphere adding to my enjoyment of the calm before my day.

    If you are a coffee drinker, and love that rich strong aroma to get your day started, pineapple mint tea will not do it. But, it can be added to your coffee, while not really disturbing the caffeine jolt you might desire.

    In full disclosure, I am not a coffee drinker. I’ve had coffee in years past (maybe 5 cups at most when I was first married), but the only way I could enjoy it was with lots of milk and sugar and always ending up with an upset stomach. I decided I didn’t like coffee enough to make it worth the upset stomach and influx of sugar I needed in order to enjoy it. I’m thinking it is one of those items you need an acquired taste for. I’m not that patient.

    In addition, I do not do well with the morning caffeine jolt that my other family members seem to enjoy. Caffeine has the tendency to speed up my pulse rate while increasing my anxiety beyond control. With that, my body remains awake, in high gear, for 36-48 hours before it can settle down to rest. I suppose if I was in a marathon of sorts, whether a race or housework, it might prove effective. But since I do not enjoy, nor desire a 2-day sprint of energy with no rest, I will leave the beneficial coffee bean to those who can handle this well loved delicacy.

    Okay, I digressed. Maybe in a future post I will share the benefits of coffee, such as the powerful and aromatic aroma that can be quite soothing.

    Pineapple Mint Tea provides a source of benefits with culinary uses. To grow this herb, it does not come without warning, as it can overtake a garden, so it is best to maintain in a container. With that, it is important to keep pruned in an effort to keep it from invading other herbs or other plant life you might have around it.

    Like other mint herbs, Pineapple Mint can repel mosquitos and will attract butterflies and bees. The bees will help to pollinate your other flowering plants.


    1. Pineapple mint is a sub-family of the apple mint. It provides antiseptic properties, which can be used within infused oils along with essential oils.
    2. As with all mint herbs, it contains a source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C

    Culinary Uses:

    1. Chop and add to your salads, such as egg salad, green salads, pasta salads, etc.
    2. If you enjoy cottage cheese, consider adding a pinch to your salads where you incorporate cottage cheese, or simply top your individual serving with chopped pineapple mint.
    3. Add to your various meat dishes, whether baked or stir-fried, close to the end of your cooking time, as a garnish
    4. Mint infused water
    5. Add to your salsa after it is cooked

    NOTE: cooking your mint does reduce the nutritional benefit, where as using freshly chopped, topped on your dishes, maintains its full health benefits.

    Other Uses:

    1. Potpourri – dry flat and add to your other dried herbs and flowers to make lovely potpourri mixes, as this herb maintains its scent
    2. Essential Oils (use with caution and ALWAYS use with a carrier oil)
    3. Infused Oils for cooking

    Mint Infused Water

    ½ c of fresh pineapple (drained canned pineapple will do when fresh is not available)

    2-4 pineapple mint leaves

    4-6 slices of cucumber

    Water to fill your 32 oz. container (add ice and water throughout the day to maximize your refreshing drink)

    Let it sit to brew for at least 15-20 minutes before you begin to enjoy throughout your day.

    Brewed Tea

    Simple enough: simply add 2 leaves to your hot water and let it brew for 10 min. and enjoy
    I do not add sweetener, as it does not have a bitter taste, that some teas might have. But if you desire to add more sweetness to this mild flavor tea, consider Stevia for its health benefits.
    You can also add a few green tea leaves to this pineapple mint tea, to reap the benefit of both herbs.

    Adding to salads and other dishes:

    1. Simply chop your leaves into small pieces, and modestly add to your dish.
    2. Add a spring or a few leaves, placed on the top or side of your dish being served.

    USE WITH CAUTION (Sorry, a must have addition when sharing about herbs and essential oils):

    I absolutely love using herbs in my teas and cooking, although I am well aware that herbs are also a form of medicine. Just because an herb can provide health benefits, too much of a good things can actually have a negative affect.

    1. Do not rub the leaves on your body. They can provide antimicrobial benefits, but its oils can also cause an allergic reaction on your skin. Consider wearing gloves when working with this plant, yet if only to pick a few fresh leaves for cooking or brewing, wash your hands immediately after.
    2. Always use diluted essential oils for your herbal application in body oils, soaps, bath oils, etc.
    3. Too much can cause headaches, yet with caution, can relieve a headache. It is why I only use 1-2 leaves in my tea. When dried, no more than 1/8 tsp. crushed or 2 dried tealeaves. If using essential oils, no more than 2 drops.
    4. If you are pregnant or nursing, consult with your physician.
    5. If you are on medication, be sure to consult with your physician. Some herbs can interfere with the benefits of your treatment.
    6. Many surgeons will request you stop all herbals 7-10 days before your procedure due to the unknown risk of bleeding or reaction to any medication or anesthesia you might have.
    7. Mint can keep one awake, so use any potpourri mixes using any form of mint, outside your place of rest.
    8. If you have allergies to basil and oregano, you could potentially have an allergic reaction to the mint family. I personally have an allergy to some herbs, but my allergy causes skin irritation, and as long as I cook those particular herbs as directed by my allergist, I am okay to use them. Please call ahead and see your allergist if you have sensitive reactions to herbs and other plants. They can do a quick skin test with you providing them with a leaf of any herb you bring in.

    Enjoy your season of herb enjoyment

    ~ Laura

    Laura D. Field – Blogger and paid Freelance writer

    Potpourri of Health www.potpourriofhealth.com
    Freelance writer at www.reflectivetapestryoflife.com
    Seamstress consultant at www.davinadawnsewing.com & www.seamstobeme.davinadawnsewing.com


    “Pineapple Mint.” Information and Facts. Specialty Produce, 05 Dec. 2016. Web. 28 May 2017. <http://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Pineapple_Mint_1372.php>.

    Pineapple Mint. (2016, December 05). Retrieved May 28, 2017, from http://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Pineapple_Mint_1372.php