Herbal Interests // Herbal Medicine Research Part I

Herbal Interests // Herbal Medicine Research Part I

Are you ready for a load of information about herbs? Seven herbs to be in fact:  thyme, oregano, rosemary, lavender, basil, sage, and chives. If you are anything like me, you are crazy interested in learning and performing research. Most people are not like me. That's part of the reason why I am compiling this list, because I am now a crazy plant lady, and I want to share my knowledge with those of you who do not want to do the research. I am also making this list because I think it is SO interesting, and it will stay on the internet forever for me to look back on. Yay for blogging! 

In my previous post I discussed with you how to plant your indoor herb garden starting with seeds. I also talked a bit about Practical Magic and Outlander. Why am I bringing this up, yet again? Well, in my research while I was jotting down the medicinal properties of my seven herbs, I began to come across the magical properties of each and the folklore behind them. I thought that was really interesting and will also be including it in this post. Why not learn what the ancients originally believed these herbs could do? And some of them are funny. I am not a modern witch, but I can let people think that, right? I'm too busy for that life!

Because there is a lot to be said, I will be making this into two posts. 

Here is a list, in alphabetical order (because I am nice), on medicinal and magical properties of common herbs: 

Basil. A culinary herb of the mint family, is referred to as the "king of herbs." It is commonly used in cooking. To spice things up try infusing it to make a syrup for cocktails, iced tea, or lemonade, or try tossing some fresh leaves onto coals or the wood chips of your barbecue to deter mosquitoes and flavor your food.

  • Said to boost your mood. Eugenol and rosmarinic acid help boost brain's production of dopamine and serotonin, which could lead to better moods in as little as three days.
  • It is a mild antiseptic and natural anti-inflammatory. Can help flatulence, nausea, and improve appetite. 
  • Chewing fresh leaves is an old remedy to help memory, prevent stress, and keep your mind sharp. This practice can also be used to cure the sting of insect bites. By chewing or grinding the leaves and releasing their juices, you can apply directly to the bite.
  • Can help rheumatoid arthritis, bowel inflammation, diabetes, respiratory disorders, upset stomach, allergies, congestion, and sore throat. Use in baths to reduce stress and encourage relaxation.
  • Can be used topically for an earache (rubbed on jawline) and on the back of neck for energy.
  • In folk lore, it was used by many cultures. For Ancient Greeks, it was protective and said to be kingly because of its fragrance. In Latin, it is said to cause and/or cure madness. In Ancient Italy, maidens would put a pot of basil on their balcony to signify their readiness for love or marriage. 
  • It is said to bring money, happiness, peace, and love. It also protects against insanity and can steady the mind.

Chives. Chives are an easily found herb in the garlic and onion family commonly used to garnish potatoes, soups, salads, and meats. It's blossoms can be infused in vinegar to make salad dressings, marinades, and hot & sour sauce. It is easy to dry and freeze. 

  • High in Vitamin K (which is essential for bone health and Alzheimer's treatment), Vitamin C (helps boost immune system), helps to avoid scurvy, lower blood pressure, and fight cold and flus.
  • It is best used as a regular part of the diet rather than as a tincture or tea. Dry or freeze to preserve, or infuse in apple cider vinegar and incorporate as a shot, in salad dressing, or in a hot tea.
  • Works well as a pest repellent and bee attraction. It is a good companion plant for vegetable gardens and will encourage bigger carrots and control black spots and aphids on roses. However, it's dense root mass can overpower itself and they will often choke each other out.
  • Chive flowers are edible! Their seeds are abundant and can be reused or gifted.
  • It's magical properties were not very easy to find, but those I could were protection, divination, breaking hexes, love, weight loss, repels evil spirits, and wards against negativity and disease. Don't they all...

Lavender. Part of the mint family. Commonly used in medicine, beauty products, and some cooking. I feel like this one was hard for me to research because there is so much general use of lavender, especially within the people that I follow online!

  • It has calming benefits, can ease stress and anxiety. 
  • Use it dried to calm a bloated stomach by sprinkling over yogurt or oatmeal (I hadn't heard of this one! Super interesting and good to know).
  • Can be used as a healing salve. It is anti-fungal and can help boost mood and spirit when applied topically. Helps to soften dry skin!
  • Dried lavender in sachets can protect clothing and linens from moths.
  • It's magical properties include:  chastity, happiness, longevity, love, peace, protection, purification, and sleep. It has a long history being used in love spells, and its scent is said to attract men. Prostitutes often wore lavender water or oil to advertise, and wearing the scent on your clothing will attract love and protect against cruel treatment at the hands of a spouse. When combined with rosemary, lavender can preserve one's chastity. 
  • Burn the flowers to induce sleep or scatter them around your home to bring peace. It is able to reverse depression when gazed upon (Ha! We shall see.)
  • To treat depression, combine with rosemary, kola nut, or skullcap. To treat headaches, combine with lady's slipper of valerian. 

Oregano. Another herb from the mint family, it is often referred to as wild marjoram, as it has similarities to marjoram. These two often get confused linguistically and have similar flavors but very different tastes. It has a warm, aromatic flavor and scent and is slightly bitter in taste.

  • 2 teaspoons of fresh oregano daily during menstruation can reduce or eliminate cramping. The herb contains thymol and carvacrol, which relaxes the uterine muscles. It can also prevent yeast and other vaginal infections. It promotes menstruation; do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding!
  • It is antibacterial, anti-parasitic, antiseptic, antiviral, and immune stimulating. Use it in meals during illness for antibacterial properties. Can be used internally during illness and externally for skin infections and fungal infections such as athlete's foot, ringworm, and removing warts (I may need this! I am susceptible to warts - bleh.). Make sure to dilute before use.
  •  It's antimicrobial properties can be used to prevent Salmonella and E.coli and preserve food.
  • Dilute oregano essential oil and consume to speed recovery. Dilute in coconut oil for skin infections and can be mixed in oil for oil pulling. Dilute in olive oil and rub on sore muscles or joints.
  • When dried, it can be used with other herbs like basil, rosemary, and thyme in a facial steam for loosening congestion and calming coughs. (That sounds doable!)
  • It helps to promote the flow of bile from gallbladder and digests foods higher in fat. 
  • Can help to prevent seasickness.
  • Magical properties:  It is often used in spells for happiness, tranquility, luck, health, protection, letting go of a loved one, and deepening existing love. When worn on the head during sleep, it is said to promote psychic dreams. Wreaths of oregano are used to crown the heads of lovers who are hand-fasting or being wed to ensure their happiness. It symbolizes joy and is often used on joyful occasions as decoration or planted near a loved one's grave. Ancient Greeks believed it was a useful antidote to most poisons and used it in poultices to treat skin infections and irritations. If it grew on a grave, it meant that person was happy in the afterlife. In Shakespearean times, it was used for everything. Women kept it in their purses to mask unpleasant oders, and could be used to make a potion which allowed them to see their future husband on St. Luke's Day. 

That was so fun to do! Look out for Part II. I hope you enjoyed reading about these four herbs and found some humor in some of the magical rituals people used to perform with them! I find there is a little truth in everything, so who knows! (;

xoxo Kayla

Spring Flea & Fair at The Barn in Wellman, IA 2016

Spring Flea & Fair at The Barn in Wellman, IA 2016

Lavender + Earl Grey Cake with Lemon + White Chocolate Ganache

Lavender + Earl Grey Cake with Lemon + White Chocolate Ganache