Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sunday Favorites -- Herbs Are Not Just For Cooking

It's Sunday and time for Sunday Favorites, where Chari, from Happy to Design allows participants to share an old blog post with readers, while still taking Sunday off, by reposting an old post.

This post appeared on my blog just over a year ago, but with herb harvest time in full swing, I thought now was a good time to repost it.

I think everyone has their favorite herb. The one they add to everything they cook. We all understand that a bit of herb here or there can make a dish really stand out.

But herbs are not just for cooking.

In my weekly exploration of herbs, I have touched on some medicinal uses and some magical uses for herbs. But there are so many things that go beyond even those uses.
Herbs, or herb oils are often used in making soaps and cosmetics, paints, fuel oil, and other manufacturing.

One would think, that with such useful plants growing right in our own garden, we would be using them for pert’near everything, yet so many of us have barely even touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using our herbs to benefit and enrich our lives.

So, I wanted to explore some uses for herbs that don’t involve cooking (per se) nor do they rely on folklore, magic or superstition.

Here are the directions for a day of head to toe herbal pampering:

First, treat yourself to a

Facial Sauna.
For cleansing and purifying one's complexion. this pleasant herbal steam penetrates deeply and cleanses every pore.

Simply boil three cups water and add 1 heaping tablespoon each of:
lemon balm,

Simmer for 15 minutes; turn off the heat. Pour into a metal bowl.
Pull back your hair away from your forehead and bend over the bowl, keeping your head at least 15 inches away so you don't scald your skin. Drape a thick towel over your head to confine the vapors. Inhale the herbal mist for 5 to 15 minutes, then splash cold water onto your face and neck to close the pores. Your skin will be soothed and your complexion will have a healthy, rosy glow.

Then, soak away sore feet with an

Herbal Foot Bath.
This steamy herb combination will stimulate your foot circulation, soothe your foot muscles, and soften the skin.
Combine 1/2 cup of each of :
Infuse the herbs in a quart of warm water and pour into a foot basin partially filled with warm water. Wrap some of the herbs in cheesecloth to form a compress. Gently apply or massage this compress into any sore spot while soaking.

Next, hop into your bathtub for a soothing, cleansing

Herbal Soak.
You can prepare an herbal infusion on the stove or make up bath bags to have ready in a basket sitting beside your bathtub.

To make an infusion: pour boiling water over a handful each of
lemon balm,
lavender flowers.
Let steep for about 20 minutes. Add to your bath water and soak for 5 to 15 minutes.

An herbal bath helps you in two ways: first, your skin absorbs the essential oils from the herbs through the hot water, and then the steam makes the volatile herb oils vaporize in the air and release their fragrances.
Some herbs stimulate your circulation, some soothe and calm you down, while others provide deep cleaning. It's the combination that provides the harmonizing effect that makes herbal baths so pleasurable.

Bath bags are easily made out of unbleached muslin, tied with twine. Using pinking shears, cut the muslin into 8-inch squares.

Mix together 1/2 cup each of dried
hibiscus flowers
chopped lemon balm,
lavender flowers,
rosemary leaves.

Place about 2 tablespoons in the center of each cloth square. Gather the muslin tightly around the herbs and tie with twine, first making a double knot and then a bow.
Several minutes before getting into your bath, swish one of the herbal bath bags round in the hot bath water. It'll scent the water and the room, soothing your skin as you soak.
Keep the bags in a pretty basket near your tub to have ready for the next time. They'll scent the bathroom at the same time.

Now the herbs have worked their magic on your body, treat yourself to an
herbal nightcap,

Tranquil Herbal Tea.
Mix together
2 ounces dried peppermint leaves (nature's digestive),
2 tablespoons dried rosemary leaves (nature's tranquilizer),
2 teaspoons dried sage leaves (nature's sleep producer).

Mix and store in a tightly closed glass jar. Add 1 heaping teaspoon of the herb mixture to a cup of boiling water. Let steep for 1 minute. Strain. Sweeten to taste with
Honey, splenda, stevia, or the sweetener of your choice, and sip slowly.
Enjoy a wonderful, restful sleep.

So, now I want to know.

Besides cooking, what do YOU use herbs for

Be sure and join me each Tuesday for Tuesday Trivia Tie-in, where readers are invited to share trivia and show off their treasures.
Read all about it here


  1. Hi Troy!

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful "spa" recipes for herbs! I'm going to try them for sure, I mostly have lavendar, rosemary and basil so I will use what I have! We use basil the most around my bruschetta and wonderful Italian meals. I love Rosemary chicken too! Hope you have a wonderful Labor Day..we will be reseeding our fescue and doing some fall gardening tomorrow. I think I will need a soothing facial or a good foot soak after that! Great post!

  2. What great ideas you have. I cant wait to try one of the herb baths. I just caught a cold this week. This is a record for me. I usually catch a cold the last week of September (I work as a teacher)....


  3. Hi Troy...

    My friend, it was so nice to have you for Sunday Favorites this week! This was the perfect post to reshare with everyone...however, I must admit that it was brand spankin' new to me! Hehe! I know that herbs can be used for many things! I have always found the study of herbs and their use...very interesting! I think you're right, we have only begun to touch on their many uses! I loved all the herbal spa recipes...thank you so much for sharing them with us!!!

    Well my friend, ya'll have a wonderful and safe Labor Day weekend! Enjoy!!!

    Chari @Happy To Design

  4. Hi Troy,
    I study herbs as well and use them in cooking as well as for healing. Nothing better than Ala Naturale! :) In this over-medicated, overly-processed, pesticided, chemicaled out world people either forget or have never been taught that all of life, health, nutrition and yes, medicine springs forth from a patch of land and two green leaves. I'm not a hippy tree hugger by any means but I do believe in the power of herbs!

    Blessings to you and yours,

    I LOVE the name of your's quite the positive affirmation! :)

  5. Wow Troy! Have you tried these? I'm trying to picture you sitting with your feet in a bowl of flower water - - -


  6. Troy,
    Still laughing at Keetha's comment. But I do love the recipe for the flower water! Can't wait to try it. First I've got to harvest those herbs sometime today I hope!