Herbs and their uses in My SachaJi
hen you’ve got a headache, indigestion, sore throat, or insomnia, what’s the first thing you do? Grab an aspirin, suck a throat sweet, maybe down some sleeping pills?
There is a much more natural way to cure all of these ailments, one that has been passed down through generations and allows people to find medicines in their own back gardens: the humble herb. Peppermint, rosemary and lemon balm might be great for adding flavour and zest to food and drinks, but they also possess special healing and soothing qualities.
There are more than two-dozen different medicinal herbs and shrubsgrowing in the organic vegetable garden of My SachaJi, where staff will happily show you and assemble herbal infusionsespecially tailored to your needs. Here are just a few examples found in our garden, and what they’re used for:
Aloysiacitrodora is the Latin name of this plant with tiny purple or white flowers that emits a powerful lemon-like fragrance. Added to fish and poultry dishes and beverages for a lemony zest, it can also be used to make herbal teas, as its antioxidant qualities can help with muscular damage, especially among avid runners.
There are around 18 species of this aromatic, green-leafed herb, and ten times as many uses. Now known for flavouring toothpaste, chewing gum, and choc-chip ice-cream, mint leaves were often used in traditional medicine to treat stomach aches, chest pains, and nausea.
Also known as wild marjoram, oregano is in the mint family and is a perennial herb, with purple flowers, in long, erect spikes. Tastes range from spicy to sweet. In culinary use, oregano is important to Mediterranean cuisine, or as a dietary supplement in oil form to sooth stomach and menstrual cramps.
- Lemon balm
True to its name, lemon balm leaves have a citrusy zest and are used in teas, as well to attract bees for honey production. Lemon balm essential oil is popular in aromatherapy for the treatment of the gastrointestinal tract, nervous system, liver and bile, and as a sleep and digestive aid.
This succulent plant species might look like it would spike you like a cactus if you got too close, but the liquid held in its leaves soothes uncomfortable skin conditions. It is used as ointment for burns and sunburns, and calms rashes and some allergic reactions.
Native to the Mediterranean region, the name of this woody, perennial herb derives from the Latin for sea spray. It is often used for flavouring roast meats like lamb and chicken, and recently has been added to gin and tonics to make a sophisticated tipple – medicinal, in a sense – but is also used in teas to treat headaches.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Beware the Rheum rhabarbarum– its stalks are delicious cooked with sugar and baked into crumbles, but its large triangular leaves are highly poisonous. In traditional Chinese medicine, rhubarb is used to relieve constipation.
These daisy-like plants are often used to make aromatic teas, and have several uses in traditional medicine. Camomile can treat menstrual disorders, hay fever, inflammation, muscle spasms, insomnia, ulcers, gastrointestinal disorders, and haemorrhoids.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Known as the “king of herbs”, green, leafy basil is popular in Italian cuisine and the main ingredient in pesto. In Ayurveda traditional medicine it is thought to have some therapeutic qualities.
Aromatic, nectar-producing flowers known as lime blossom grow on the tilia, or lime tree. When pollinated by bees they contribute to making a richly flavoured honey, and they have various uses in traditional medicine, including the treatment of colds, coughs, fevers, infections, inflammation, high blood pressure, and headaches (particularly migraine). They also serve as a sedative.