Written by Briana Surkitt | Wednesday, 11 November 2020
Herbs are so powerful. That is why traditional systems of medicine have used them to heal for thousands of years, harnessing the healing power of nature, which is what Naturopathy is all about. However, just because they can be effective medicine doesn’t have to mean they are only accessible to Naturopaths and herbalists.
They are everywhere – they surround us, growing as weeds, being cultivated in people’s backyard and across the globe. Cultivating your own herb garden can harvest a wide variety of benefits. Four of which I’ll discuss below.
Firstly, Naturopathy considers this idea of a vital force that flows through all living things. Factors such as the time and distance from where food and herbs are grown, to where and when you consume them can detract from this potent energy. Growing your own herbs where you receive the benefits of pouring love into something and touching the soil with your bare hands which is powerful in itself, you can then pick them and not have to transport them anywhere, preserving this vital force and healing power.
Herbs are also super easy to grow, no matter where you are in the world or how much space you have. A couple of my favourites are Peppermint (Mentha x piperita), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). Dandelion is actually a weed and you can probably find it growing in your backyard already. Just ensure the area has not been sprayed and have a look into some botanical resources to ensure correc t identification.
Peppermint can be a great herb for your digestion, having carminative and spasmolytic action keeping your gut happy as well as being antimicrobial and a powerful antioxidant. Rosemary also has strong antioxidant activity and can be helpful for memory and cognition, I love using it around exam time. Dandelion is also great for the gastrointestinal tract, with all parts of the plants such as the leaves and root having different herbal actions. I love the roasted root, it tastes very similar to coffee and its bitter properties can assist in stimulating digestive secretions.
These herbs have potent medicinal value and can be used in a variety of ways. Firstly, you cannot go past food as medicine. Use fresh herbs in your food, add them to anything, you can’t go past a fresh Thai salad with mint, or pizza with rosemary on roasted vegetables – delish! Herbs take the flavour to the next level, and the nutritional value simultaneously. You can even infuse fresh herbs in hot water to make your own tea, or if you’d like to get super fancy you can dehydrate herbs with a dehydrator if you have one, or otherwise an oven on the lowest heat, to store and use as a loose leaf tea.
You can also infuse the herbs in oils like olive, avocado and hemp seed to use in topical preparations such as balms and creams – think marigold (Calendula officinalis) for its amazing soothing power, or lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) for cold sores.
Just because herbs are powerful, it doesn’t mean they aren’t able to be integrated into your day to day life, so get creative, I would love to see what you come up with!
Briana is an Endeavour Student Representative from Melbourne who is currently studying a Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy). When she’s not whipping up tasty recipes in the kitchen, Briana enjoys spending her time practicing yoga and meditation and is partial to a good cup of tea. What words of wisdom does she have to share?
“Take advantage of the ebbs and flows of this time, tune in with yourself and reassess where you're spending your energy. Remind yourself of your goals or create new ones and begin working toward them, but at the same time, don't feel guilty for not being productive all of the time. Rest when you need rest and work and study hard when you have the energy, don't be too hard on yourself!”