Herbs to treat winter illnesses

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Many of the herbs growing in our gardens have wonderful antibacterial, antifungal and anti-oxidant properties.

If made into an herbal infusion (tea), and taken regularly, they can banish winter sicknesses like the common cold and flu.

 If you are starting an herb garden in the winter months and live in a cold region, ensure that the herbs are sited in a very sheltered spot with plenty of sun. This can easily be achieved if they are grown in pots which can be moved with the seasons. Ensure that potted herbs have excellent drainage and do not over water in winter - once or twice a week should suffice. Herbs also don’t like wet feet so do not leave them standing in drip trays full of water. It’s also time to harvest and dry summer herbs for winter use.

"Growing Culinary Herbs in South Africa" E-book"Growing Culinary Herbs in South Africa" E-book"Growing Culinary Herbs in South Africa” is my new e-book written especially for South African gardeners and covers everything you need to know about growing your own herbs. All 177 pages are packed with useful information, and all the commonly grown herbs are covered in detail, plus a few which are harder to find. You will learn how to cultivate, propagate, harvest and store them with ease, and I have included some fascinating facts about your favourites - just to get you truly hooked!

There is a growing and widespread interest in herbs today as people rediscover the joys of organic gardening and the health benefits of using herbs daily. For most of us our interest in herbs begins with food and the wonderful flavours and fragrances they bring to our dishes, but growing these little miracles of nature will not only spice up your life, but also reward you with their beauty and wonderful healing properties.

In this e-book I hope to inspire you to grow your own culinary herbs, and all the commonly grown herbs are covered in detail, plus a few which are harder to find. You will learn how to cultivate, propagate, harvest and store them with ease, and just in case you need some extra motivation, I have included tasty tips on how each herb is used in kitchens around the world.

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Thyme & Lemon-scented Thyme (Thymus)

Thyme must be one of the finest herbs around because it contains a powerful volatile oil called “thymol” which is known for its powerful antiseptic, antiviral and antibacterial properties. Thymol is still used by pharmacists today in cough remedies as it acts as an expectorant, loosening phlegm in the respiratory tract so it can be coughed up.  Fresh thyme tea is an effective treatment for the whole respiratory system and will strengthen the lungs; treating common coughs and colds as well as bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma and whooping cough; it is also an excellent gargle for sore throats and tonsillitis.  Because lemon thyme tea also tastes delicious, it is often added to other herbal teas like parsley, which don’t taste very good. Adults can drink up to 3 cups per day.

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Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon citrates) 

Lemon grass is used internally to treat colds; and a leaf blade steeped in warm milk aids colic in children and also helps to bring down a fever. The fresh leaves are used to make a delicious tea.

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Lovage (Levisticum officinale)

Lovage  improves circulation, especially around the feet and sooths chilblains. A tea is given to patients to treat coughs, colds, bronchitis and respiratory tract infections. A broth can also be made with vegetables for children to make it taste better. Lovage should not be used as a remedy for pregnant woman or anyone with kidney disease.

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Oregano (Origanum)

Recent studies have shown that oregano is a potent natural antibiotic because it is packed with health giving antioxidants and vitamins. Oregano tea will sooth coughs and colds and if left unsweetened makes an excellent mouthwash. Do not use Origanum majorana and Origanum vulgare medicinally during pregnancy.

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Lemon-scented Verbena (Aloysia triphylla)

Lemon-scented Verbena will soothe bronchial and nasal congestion and is a tonic for the digestive system. You can take up to 3 cups per day if necessary.

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Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

Parsley has detoxifying and blood cleansing properties, and builds up the immune system. A tea can be made from the fresh leaves, or it can be chopped and eaten raw on salads etc. It can also be juiced with other vegetables and fruit.

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Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans) 

Pineapple sage is an excellent general tonic known for its healing properties; and its name means 'to save or heal'. The tea makes a good gargle and mouthwash for sore throats, tonsillitis, mouth ulcers and gum disease.

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Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Sage tea soothes coughs and colds and makes an excellent gargle for sore throats. Do not take sage medicinally if you are pregnant or if you suffer from epilepsy.

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Summer Savory (Satureja hortensis)

Summer Savory is a general tonic that has aromatic and carminative properties; and the tea is taken to relieve sore throats.

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Herbal TeaHerbal TeaTo make an herbal infusion:

Generally herbal teas are made by pouring one cup of boiling water over a quarter cup of freshly chopped herbs. Allow too steep for about 5 minutes before straining and drinking. If the tea is not very palatable, honey and lemon juice can be added to taste.

When using herbal infusions (teas), always ensure that you are using the correct herb and do not drink the same infusion continuously. Take one cup per day for 10 days and then take a 5 day break. You can take up to 3 cups per day if necessary, but for no longer than 4 days at a time.

Caution:

Always consult with your physician before starting a home treatment programme, especially for serious ailments.