• Tue
  • Sep 2, 2014
  • Updated: 3:23pm

Miraculous leaves have history of healing

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 October, 2009, 12:00am
 

In addition to providing a dish with that perfect touch of flavour, culinary herbs can have physical benefits.

Rosemary

This herb has a long tradition of culinary and medicinal benefits. In Greek mythology, it was said to rejuvenate spirits and improve memory. Modern scientific research shows that rosemary contains active substances that prevent the breakdown of neurotransmitters in the brain, lending credibility to this belief.

In ancient times, Greek brides also believed that the herb was a gift from Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, and they wore rosemary in wreaths as a symbol of fidelity.

As a traditional medicine, it was taken as a tonic, stimulant and cure for flatulence and headaches.

Modern-day herbalists use it to alleviate pain or assist with illness related to the liver and gall bladder. It is now widely used as an antiseptic for treating flu and colds and, because of its pungent, pine-like scent, many people use rosemary tea to gargle, with the hope of curing halitosis and heal mouth ulcers.

Rosemary oil, when used externally, is an effective antioxidant and stimulates circulation to give the skin a healthy tone. Often, it is blended in hair care products and lotions as it stimulates the hair follicles and prevents premature baldness.

Lavender

The use of lavender as a herb has been well documented for more than 2,500 years. It was used for mummification and perfume by the Egyptians, Phoenicians and Arabians, and has been lauded as a herb of love in literature. It has been known throughout history as a simple, accessible and inexpensive scent that can be used in aromatherapy and medicine.

The versatile therapeutic properties of this herb make it one of the most popular ways to ease anxiety, fatigue and headache and relieve mental sluggishness, among other ailments. It improves blood circulation when mixed with bath water, giving the skin a renewed radiance. This is one of the inexpensive ways to improve one's looks.

The herb may even be taken orally, either as food flavouring or as a drink, or rubbed on the skin to soothe inflammation, burns and eczema.

Aromatherapists regularly use lavender and other essential oils as a tonic to relieve nervous disorders and mood disturbances.

Lavender oil also stimulates growth of skin cells and is effective in healing wounds. It also works well as an antivenin.

Oregano

Aside from being known as the famous 'pizza herb', oregano is also well known for its versatile medicinal characteristics.

Oregano works as an antioxidant through the presence of thymol and rosmarinic acid - compounds that help in scavenging free radicals, preventing cell damage and membrane alteration. Crushing the leaves before ingesting will release the aroma and activate its antioxidant properties, making it more effective in relieving colds, influenza and painful menstruation.

The volatile oil present in oregano inhibits the growth of bacteria and parasitic micro-organisms. In addition, due to the presence of an anti-inflammatory agent called terpenes, the oil is also helpful in reducing joint inflammation.

Dandruff, caused by yeast infection in the scalp, can be eliminated by mixing oregano oil with regular shampoo.

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