Sunday, June 28, 2009

Herbs Are Not Just For Cooking

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
rosemary leaves,
mint leaves
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?


  1. Do you grow chamomile? How do you keep it under check? I've been pulling mine out of every nook and cranny for the past month!

  2. Jane,
    I confess, I have never grown Chamomile. We have such a small space, that in the past we have limited ourselves to growing cullinary herbs and buying what we need of any others.

    I know that even when it was kept in a container, and I have seen Mint take over more than one garden. There are a few tricks to trying to keep aggressive plants under control, but mostly I think it just boils down to what you and I are doing, pulling out the ones we don't want every year,

  3. I would recommend not to grow it! If you think mint is invasive you should see this plant. The real trouble is, it looks a lot like dill, so half the time I pull up the dill and keep the chamomile! Your nose goes bad after sniffing awhile! I'll buy it at the farmer's market from now on!

  4. Thanks for all of the ideas! Herbs are one of the things that grow easily in my area, too easily! I have trouble using them up in the kitchen.

    P.S. I found you when you visited my blog, but had trouble leaving a comment the last time I visited. This evening I was visiting The Thrifty Country Woman and saw your blog on her sidebar and decided to pop over to see what you were up to now.

  5. Oops, I confused you with Terry. You haven't been to my blog, this is my first visit to yours. But it is a happy mistake, I've been reading your posts and you have a wealth of information here! I will be back...