Spring is a best time to collect and conserve medicinal and aromatic herbs. Some herbs can only be collected in spring – such as flower buds and sprouts of some berries.
This spring my special mix is collected in Russia. Because of the very short summer season, the spring comes and rolls out very fast, spring medicinal herbs shoot out in a matter of hours, carrying a blast of natural micro elements, making POLZA VESNA mix very potent and flavorful.
POLZA VESNA mix includes:
- Plantain Grass
- Rose hip leaves and buds
- Raspberry leaves and buds
- Pine buds
- Black currant leaves and buds
- Ground ivy
- Wild strawberry leaves
This spring (yes, “VESNA” is Russian for “spring”) POLZA VESNA mix is so medicinally potent and full of flavor, one teaspoon is enough to prepare a 1 liter (1quart) water infusion or infused vodka.
Buy a 100 ml. (3,3 oz.) jar and make spring last for few weeks or even month!
Eucalyptus is a fast-growing evergreen tree native to Australia. As an ingredient in many products, it is used to reduce symptoms of coughs, colds, and congestion. It also features in creams and ointments aimed at relieving muscle and joint pain.
The oil that comes from the eucalyptus tree is used as an antiseptic, a perfume, as an ingredient in cosmetics, as a flavoring, in dental preparations, and in industrial solvents.
Chinese, Indian Ayurvedic, Greek, and other European styles of medicine have incorporated it into the treatment of a range of conditions for thousands of years.
There are over 400 different species of eucalyptus. Eucalyptus globulus, also known as Blue Gum, is the main source of eucalyptus oil used globally.
Leaves are steam distilled to extract the oil, which is a colorless liquid with a strong, sweet, woody scent. It contains 1,8-cineole, also known as eucalyptol.
The leaves also contain flavonoids and tannins; flavonoids are plant-based antioxidants, and tannins may help to reduce inflammation.
Health benefits and uses of eucalyptus
Eucalyptus is believed to have a number of medicinal properties, although not all of them have been confirmed by research. Below we outline some of its potential health benefits.
Eucalyptus leaves and essential oil are commonly used in complementary medicine.
Interestingly, toward the end of the 19th century, eucalyptus oil was used in most hospitals in England to clean urinary catheters. Modern research is now starting to back this practice up.
In February 2016, researchers from Serbia found evidence supporting the antimicrobial action of eucalyptus.
They concluded that a positive interaction between E. camaldulensis essential oil (a tree in the Eucalyptus family) and existing antibiotics could lead to the development of new treatment strategies for certain infections.
They hope that this property could eventually reduce the need for antibiotics.
A study published in Clinical Microbiology & Infection suggests that eucalyptus oil may have antibacterial effects on pathogenic bacteria in the upper respiratory tract, including Haemophilus influenzae, a bacteria responsible for a range of infections, and some strains of streptococcus.
Colds and respiratory problems
Eucalyptus features in a range of preparations to relieve symptoms of the common cold, for example, cough lozenges and inhalants.
Herbal remedies recommend using fresh leaves in a gargle to relieve a sore throat, sinusitis, and bronchitis. Also, eucalyptus oil vapor appears to act as a decongestant when inhaled. It is a popular home remedy for colds and bronchitis.
It may act as an expectorant for loosening phlegm and easing congestion. A number of cough medications include eucalyptus oil, including Vicks VapoRub.
Researchers have called for further studies to clarify the possible therapeutic role of eucalyptus leaf extract in the treatment of respiratory tract infection.
Eucalyptus and dental care
The antibacterial and antimicrobial potential of eucalyptus has been harnessed for use in some mouthwash and dental preparations.
In promoting dental health, eucalyptus appears to be active in fighting bacteria that cause tooth decay and periodontitis.
The use of eucalyptus extract in chewing gum may promote periodontal health, according to a study published in the Journal of Periodontology.
Fungal infections and wounds
The University of Maryland Medical (UMM) Center describe how traditional Aboriginal medicines used eucalyptus to treat fungal infections and skin wounds.
Eucalyptus is an effective insect repellent and insecticide. In 1948, the United States officially registered eucalyptus oil as an insecticide and miticide, for killing mites and ticks.
Oil of lemon eucalyptus is recommended by some as an insect repellant; it is effective at keeping mosquitoes away.
In 2012, researchers from New Delhi, in India, found that E. globulus oil was active against the larvae and pupae of the housefly. They suggested that it could be a viable option for use in eco-friendly products to control houseflies.
Eucalyptus extract may act as a pain reliever, and research indicates that the oil may have analgesic properties. In a study published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, scientists applied Eucalyptamint on the anterior forearm skin of 10 people.
Eucalyptamint, an OTC preparation with the generic name methyl salicylate topical, is used to treat muscle and joint pain linked to strains and sprains, arthritis, bruising, and backache.
The scientists concluded that “Eucalyptamint, produced significant physiologic responses that may be beneficial for pain relief and/or useful to athletes as a passive form of warm-up.”
Stimulating immune system
Eucalyptus oil may stimulate an immune system response, say findings published in BMC Immunology.
Specifically, the researchers found that Eucalyptus oil could enhance the immune system’s phagocytic response to pathogens in a rat model. Phagocytosis is a process where the immune system consumes and destroys foreign particles.
Other conditions that eucalyptus may help with include:
- Arthritis – potentially due to its anti-inflammatory properties
- A blocked nose
- Wounds and burns
- Cold sores – perhaps due to its anti-inflammatory properties
- Bladder diseases
- Diabetes – eucalyptus might help lower blood sugar
Precautions and side effects
According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), some essential oils can be hazardous, but those that are available commercially, from reputable sources, are safe to use if handled appropriately. The NAHA say that it is important to use “pure, authentic, and genuine essential oils.”
Eucalyptus products can generally be used safely on the skin, as long as the oil is diluted. It should not be applied directly onto the skin until it is diluted with a carrier oil, such as olive oil.
The dilution should be between 1 percent and 5 percent eucalyptus oil to between 95 percent and 99 percent carrier oil; this equates to roughly one to five drops of essential oil in an ounce of carrier oil.
Eucalyptus can produce irritation and a burning sensation. It should not be used too close to the eyes.
It is important to do an allergy test before using eucalyptus because it is highly allergenic. An allergy test can be done by adding the eucalyptus oil in the carrier oil and putting a drop on the arm. If there is no reaction in 24 hours, it is safe to use.
Allergies can develop over time. If you have used eucalyptus oil in the past and now seem to be having an allergic reaction to it, discontinue use.
It is not safe to take eucalyptus oil orally because it is poisonous.
In some individuals with asthma, eucalyptus can make their condition worse. Others find that it helps to relieve their asthma symptoms.
Side effects may include:
- Stomach upset
Signs of eucalyptus poisoning include dizziness, feelings of suffocation, and small pupils. It is important to note that eucalyptus may interact with other medications and can impact the liver.
Children are more sensitive to essential oils, so care should be taken when using eucalyptus with children. Use should be avoided during pregnancy.
Rose hip is the fruit that develops from the blossoms of the wild rose plant. It ranges in color from orange to purplish black and usually develops in the latter part of the growing season, around late summer to autumn.
A common ingredient in herbal teas, rose hip is also available in supplement and powdered forms. Rose hip contains a number of important antioxidants (including vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and lycopene) that are beneficial to your health. Alternative practitioners also believe that rose hip can prevent or treat a wide range of gastrointestinal and inflammatory symptoms.1
Rose hip is also known as rosehip, rose haw, hipberry, and hop fruit. It is called jin ying zi in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is used to stabilize the kidneys and stop diarrhea.
In alternative medicine, rose hip is touted as a natural remedy for a variety of health problems, including:2
- Back pain
- Urinary tract infections
In addition, rose hip is purported to strengthen the immune system, promote circulation, reduce inflammation, and even prevent heart disease. Some of these claims are better supported by research than others.
Here is a look at some of the key findings from recent research:
A number of studies have suggested that rose hip may help treat symptoms of osteoarthritis (“wear-and-tear arthritis”) and rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune form of arthritis).
In a 2005 published in the Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology, researchers reported that a daily 5-gram rose hip supplement reduced osteoarthritis pain and the need for pain medications better than a placebo after three weeks of use.3
Meanwhile, a 2010 study in Phytomedicine found that rose hip supplements improved physical function in people with rheumatoid arthritis but did little to relieve the pain.4 Other studies have shown no beneficial effect.
In a 2013 review published in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, researchers concluded that rose hip was not effective in treating knee osteoarthritis and offered “uncertain” benefit in treating generalized osteoarthritis.
Rose hip may help prevent heart disease in people with obesity, according to a small study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. For this study, 31 people with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 were provided a daily tonic containing either rose hip powder or a placebo.5
After six weeks, the rose hip group showed greater improvement in the markers for heart disease—including systolic blood pressure and cholesterol levels—than the placebo group. On the flip side, they experienced increases in the vascular inflammation (as measured by the CRP and ESR tests) and no reduction in their diastolic blood pressure.
Further research would be needed to determine if the benefits of treatment outweigh the risks. To date, there is no indication that rose hip is an effective weight loss supplement.
Preliminary research indicates that rose hip may help prevent type 2 diabetes, particularly in people with risk factors such as obesity and high blood pressure.5
In a 2011 study in the American Journal of Physiology, scientists found that a 20-week course of powdered rose hip helped prevent diabetes in mice fed a high-fat diet, in part by reducing the accumulation of fat cells in the liver.
According to the investigators, rose hip was able to normalize blood sugar levels and keep cholesterol in check. It has been hypothesized that compounds in the plant stimulate the growth of beta cells in the pancreas which are responsible for producing insulin, based on in-vitro and animal research.6
Despite the promising findings, there has been a near-total absence of research investigating the use of rose hip in humans with type 2 diabetes.
Natural Remedies for Type 2 Diabetes
Rose hip has been used for generations to treat diarrhea, stomach ulcers, and other gastrointestinal problems. There is growing evidence that this folk remedy may actually work.
According to a 2017 review from the University of Zaragoza in Spain, rose hip appears to slow the contraction of the intestinal muscles nearly as effectively as the drug Lomotil (diphenoxylate) used to treat diarrhea.
Rose hips also appear to reduce the risk of ulcers by altering the pH balance in the stomach. By doing so, it may create a hostile environment for Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), the bacteria largely responsible for the development of ulcers. More research would be needed to confirm these results.7
Possible Side Effects
Rose hip is generally considered safe but may cause side effects in some people, including nausea, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, stomach cramps, fatigue, and headache. The risk tends to increase with larger doses. Other people have reported insomnia and unrestful sleep.8
Rose hip is known to cause certain drug interactions. Many of these are related to the high concentration of vitamin C in the plant. As such, you may need to avoid rose hip if you are taking estrogen-based contraceptives or the antipsychotic drug Prolixin (fluphenazine), both of which are affected by excessive doses of vitamin C.9
Rose hip also has mild diuretic properties and may amplify the effects of pharmaceutical diuretics like Lasix (furosemide). This same effect may also reduce the concentration of lithium in the blood, potentially undermining the effectiveness of the mood stabilizer.10
Rose hip also contains a substance called rugosin E that promotes the formation of clots. You should avoid rosehip if you’ve ever had deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism, or other conditions involving blood clots. It is possible that rose hip can also decrease the efficacy of blood thinners like warfarin used to prevent or treat cardiovascular diseases.10
Due to the lack of safety research, rose hip should not be used in children, pregnant women, or nursing mothers.
Dosage and Preparation
Rose hip capsules are generally sold in 500-milligram to 1,000-milligram doses and are considered safe if taken within this range. Doses over 2,000 milligrams may increase the risk of side effects, particularly if the supplement is co-formulated with vitamin C.
Do not confuse rose hip extract with either rose or rose hip essential oil. Rose hip extracts and tinctures are typically alcohol-based and may be used internally. Essential oils are intended for aromatherapy or external use only.
As a general rule of thumb, never exceed the recommended dose on the product label.
What to Look For
As a dietary supplement, rose hip does not need to undergo the rigorous testing and research that pharmaceutical drugs do. Because of this, the quality of a supplement can vary.
To ensure quality and safety, choose supplements that have been tested and approved by an independent certifying body like the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), ConsumerLab, or NSF International. Whole dried rose hips or rose hip powder should ideally be certified organic under the regulations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).11
Tarragon is the loveliest addition to a cream sauce. Great for making a bit of cream, tarragon, lion’s mane, some free-run chicken and a sprinkling of pepper, salt and Parmigiano Reggiano. Tarragon it will elevate your dishes to another level. Below you will learn about tarragon’s culinary and medicinal uses from different cultures around the world and hopefully, it will inspire you to experiment with it in the kitchen.
- Russian (benefits)
- Health Benefits
- Improved digestion
- Better sleep
- Remedy for toothaches
Tarragon is a common herb used in pasta dishes. Combining it with rice vinegar to create tarragon vinegar is also popular
tarragon plants should be grown in areas receiving full sun. Soil should be well-drained and fertile. Space plants approximately 18 to 24 inches apart to ensure adequate air circulation as well.
High source of
- vitamin A
- vitamin C
- vitamin B-6
Good source of
Tarragon has a long culinary history. The sweet, licorice and anise-like aroma of tarragon wafted into Europe with the Mongolian invasion, from where it proceeded to spread across the world. Although there is little difference in their benefits, it is best to use French tarragon when cooking.
Tarragon was brought into France in the 14th century where it quickly became regionally cultivated. It was grown and its quality improved over its Asian counterpart until it began to be used for far more than just a flavouring for vinegar. Tarragon was grown then and continues to be grown today as salad greens, a garnish and seasoning for vegetables and a digestive tonic (Charles, D.J., 2013).
Tarragon became the famous and distinct flavour in French cuisine lending its aroma and taste to such sauces as bearnaise, poulet a l’estragon and chaufroid, it is also a special ingredient in French made dijon mustard. Tarragon is also one of the many herbs used in Herbes de Provence (Nurzynska – Wierdak, R., & Zawislak, G., 2014). By the 16th century, tarragon became popularized all over Europe and its benefits were beginning to become known such as its positive aid for the heart and liver (Charles, D.J., 2013).
Tarragon has numerous health benefits, many of which can be derived by consuming the plant leaves fresh or through a fresh leaf infusion in water or vinegar; others are produced by pharmacological extraction. Historically it had numerous uses for various cultures, some of which continue to be used today.
The Middle East
Arabic: Tarragon was used as an aid for insomnia as well as to enhance the taste of unpleasant medicines. Furthermore, it was used as an anesthetic for throbbing teeth, skin sores as well as cuts (Obolskiy, D., et al., 2011). Arabic herbalists also used it as a breath freshener (Charles, D.J., 2013).
Russia: Tarragon was used in the treatment of topical skin wounds, reducing inflammation and irritation. It was also used in treating allergic reactions that would occur on the skin (Obolskiy, D., et al., 2011). It was also used in Russia before in the treatment of scurvy, to reduce the convulsions as a result of epilepsy and as a treatment for night blindness (Roy, H.J., n.d.).
China: Chinese Traditional Medicine (TCM) uses tarragon as a protector and strengthener of the liver, as well as a diuretic. They also use it to aid in reducing topical skin inflammation (Roy, H.J., n.d.). The other uses the TCM has for the little dragon include the following; use for microbial infections, inflammatory diseases, malaria, hepatitis, gastric ulcers, cancer, diarrhea and circulatory diseases (Charles, D.J., 2013).
Individual tarragon herbs up close
Chippewa: This Aboriginal group used tarragon for gynecological reasons, so as to reduce menstrual blood flow as well as to aid with difficult births. They would chew the leaves to ease heart palpitations and would bath youth and elderly in tarragon bath/steam baths to bring more strength into the body. (Obolskiy, D., et al., 2011).
Shuswap: This Aboriginal group used this delicate herb as a way to keep away mosquitos – mosquito repellent (USDA, 2001).
Ramah Navaho: This Aboriginal group would turn tarragon into a salve for which they would treat and heal wounds (USDA, 2001).
Middle-Ages: It was during this time that the therapeutic properties of tarragon were discovered in Europe. It moved past its culinary skills and began to be used for the treatment of fever, upper respiratory infections, digestive problems, ulcers, as a means to stimulate appetite as well as to reduce plaque epidemics (Roy, H.J., n.d.).
The Little Dragon of Europe and Asia
Tarragon, known in Latin as Artemisia dracunculus (little dragon) is a member of the Asteraceae family (Craig, W.J., 1997). It received its name due to the fact that it was believed, long ago that the plant could cure the bite of a dragon or at least that of a venomous reptile, which in ancient times it was sometimes used for. (Charles, D.J., 2013).
Originating in Asia, it made its entry into Europe during the Mongolian invasion. It is a woody, perennial shrub that grows to about 1.2 m (3 feet) in length. It is not a hairy plant, though it does adorn smooth and narrowly pointed leaves. (Charles, D.J., 2013) (Obolskiy, D., et al., 2011). It grows best when planted in higher density (Nurzynska-Wierdak, R., & Zawislak, G., 2014) and as it dies in the winter and send out new shoots of growth in the spring it is best to have the plant replaced every three years so as to keep the oil produced potent (Pauwels, I., & Christoffels, G., 2006). It grows most effectively in soil that is fertile, well-drained and on a patch of earth that is full of sunlight (USDA, 2001).
There are two main types; French and Russian. They have mainly similar pharmacological properties. There are slight differences in taste, texture and appearance; French having slightly smaller leaves and being more delicate than Russian for the pallet (Craig, W., J., 1997). (NOTE: Though tarragon is a delicious and healthy herb/spice it is important to be careful if one is planting it in an area in which it does not traditionally grow as it is a weedy and invasive species and can cause detriment to the surrounding ecosystem. Grow it in a pot or within your home (USDA, 2001).
Health Benefits and Properties
Tarragon has been used therapeutically to treat ailments for centuries, from malaria to liver diseases, to reducing bodily inflammation. It is best known of its essential oils/volatile oils, which has been shown to provide anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties among many others (Obolskiy, D., et al., 2011) (Craig.W.J.. 1997) (Roy, H.J., (n.d)).
The essential oil of this bitter, sweet herb contains numerous plant secondary compounds, such as; coumarins, flavonoids, phenolic acid, polyacetylene derivatives and, as a whole contains approximately 69 distinct compounds. There are two peak times for when the oil of tarragon is at its highest. The first being during the beginning of the budding stage of the plant often in the early spring and the latter during the beginning of the plants flowering. Climate and region affect the quality and potency of the oil content as well (Obolskiy, D., et al., 2011) (Nurzynska -Wierdak, R., & Zawislak, G., 2014).
Tarragon contains numerous other beneficial components such as phenols, vitamins and tannins, all of which are beneficial in aiding in healing and balancing the body. The wonderful thing about using the whole herb, especially when it is fresh is that its effect will not be singular on the body. It will not positively affect one single organ or system instead it will work on the body as a whole bringing it closer to equilibrium, balance and health.
Below is a representation of the nutritional proportions of dried tarragon. The fresh herb will have higher proportions of nutrients and plant secondary compounds within it, therefore make sure to always go with fresh tarragon when cooking or making tonics.
tarragon nutritional information from the USDA
Concentrations of acetone, chloroform, menthol and water from tarragon have shown to be advantageous against pathogenic microorganisms (Obolskiy, D., et al., 2011).
Tarragon has been proven to be an effective treatment for uncomplicated malaria. Aiding in the reduction of its transmission as well as the elimination of the parasite (Plasmodium falciparum) that propels the illnesses affect. The World Health Organization advises its use as the first step in the treatment of basic malaria (Charles, D.J., 2013).
It has also been shown to be effective in the treatment and elimination of such parasites as; Leishmania, Schistosoma, Toxoplasma and Trypanosoma (Charles, D.J., 2013).
Tarragon has a strong antioxidant effect, reducing free radical damage and oxidation as well as reducing the buildup of both malondialdehyde (mutagen) and sialic acid (virus enhancing)(Roy., H.J., n.d.). Its high antioxidant count also makes it very beneficial in reducing inflammation within the body.
Tarragon’s water extract has been shown to be very beneficial in supporting the healthy function of the gastrointestinal system (Obolskiy, D., et al., 2011). Tarragon supports the stomach by aiding in the prevention and treatment of stomach ulcers, as well as increasing the secretion of gastric juices. Being a digestive bitter not only increases a healthy appetite but also aids in the breakdown and uptake of food and its accompanying nutrients (ibid).
Bunch of tarragon up close
Russian Tarragon Beneficial for Diabetics
This variety of tarragon has been shown to be incredibly beneficial at supporting and balancing out healthy glucose and insulin levels in the body which is a great benefit for diabetes (Roy., H.J., n.d.).
Accompanied by a positive – holistic lifestyle and dietary changes, tarragon has the potential to aid in glucose metabolism and its uptake into cells. Through the consistent daily use through supplementation as well as included within food, it is possible to increase glucose uptake and make cells more receptive to insulin (ibid). This antihyperglycemic action also has the potential to reduce hyperphagia (desire to eat food) and polydipsia (excessive thirst) in diabetics (Obolskiy, D., et al., 2011).
Russian variety further aids diabetes by boosting glucose transport from the bloodstream into cells (muscle cells in particular). This action positively supports the body by decreasing blood sugar levels as well as decreasing the amount of glucose the liver synthesizes (Obolskiy, D., et al., 2011) (Roy., H.J., n.d.).
Diabetics also have the worry of the onset of neuropathy which tarragon, to an extent can aid in its delaying and/or prevention.
A Digestive Bitter Before a Meal
Tarragon’s bitterness makes it a fantastic digestive bitter. The plant secondary compound artemisinin is not only beneficial as an antibacterial but also for increasing gastric juice secretion (Nurzynska-Wierdak, R., & Zawislak, G., 2014). It also aids in the stimulation of a positive appetite as well as reducing bloating and allowing for more nutrients from the food one eats to be absorbed into the body. Its digestive benefits can be obtained either by consuming it alongside a salad before a bigger meal or through supplementation or a tincture.
Tarragon into your daily lifestyle and diet
To reap the benefits from the King of Herbs consuming tarragon fresh and daily can be very beneficial. Adding it to your drinking water as you would do mint or lemons is an easy way to incorporate it. Adding tarragon into salad mixes, pasta, as a season for fish, chicken and other meats. Even sprinkling fresh tarragon on top of freshly roasted vegetables is an easy and delicious way to begin reaping the benefits of this herb.
Bathing with Herbs
As it was used in ancient times, adding a few drops (10-15, preferably mixed with Epsom salts or a base oil- such as almond, coconut or olive) can be very beneficial at both relaxing the body, reducing inflammation and muscle tension as well as providing vigour and strength. Taking deep breaths and breathing in the essence of tarragon can also aid in refocusing on the day and week ahead.
Tarragon in Vinegar
Adding an extra healthy kick to your salad or main dish is nothing to frown at. It can be infused with rice vinegar, lemon juice, coconut vinegar or apple cider vinegar. The addition of tarragon brings a healing and protective aspect for the digestive tract by reducing bloating, improving digestion, and aiding in the removal of the unwanted critters that lie in your bowels (parasites and bad bacteria).
Vodka was made for so much more than mules and martinis. It may surprise you to learn that the spirit was actually invented as a source of medicine (something Princess Margaret was perhaps privy to, given her decadent morning routine) and to this day, the colorless, odorless drink has a number of health benefits. So the next time you’re debating what kind of cocktail to order, consider this:
1 Vodka is a cure-all
Vodka is a natural disinfectant and antiseptic. It can be used to treat toothaches, clean wounds, and clean your house. In fact, you’ll be surprised by how many of your household cleaning and hygiene products include alcohol in their ingredients
2 It can relieve stress.
You may have heard that red wine is a natural relaxer, but it’s nothing compared to vodka, which studies have shown to relieve tension better than vino
3 It’s heart-healthy.
Vodka can increase blood-flow and circulation in your body which can prevent clots, strokes, and other heart diseases. Vodka can also help lower your cholesterol. And, for those watching their weight, it’s also generally considered a lower-calorie alcohol. (Check out these recipes for “healthy” vodka cocktails.) Everything in moderation of course.
4 It can be used as a skincare product.
Out of your go-to facial cleanser? Vodka acts as a natural astringent or toner, and due to its disinfectant properties, can deep-clean your pores. (Just be sure to dilute it with equal parts water first.) It’ll also tighten the skin on your face and can treat acne breakouts with it’s drying and detoxifying properties. But it can have a dehydrating effect, which you should be mindful of if you have particularly dry or sensitive skin.
5 It contributes to oral hygiene.
We already mentioned how vodka can soothe toothaches, but swishing a shot of it can help combat bad breath as well.
6 It can alleviate symptoms caused by arthritis.
Apparently, patients who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and had semi-regular vodka drinks throughout the month felt less pain and inflammation associated with their disease, according to this study.
7 It reduces risks associated with diabetes.
Unlike beer or wine, a shot of vodka can actually reduce blood sugar levels. This is most effective when taken straight, so order it neat or on the rocks.
Sip on these surprising facts!
Mint or mentha belongs to the Lamiaceae family, which contains around 15 to 20 plant species, including peppermint and spearmint. It is a popular herb that people can use fresh or dried in many dishes and infusions. Manufacturers of toothpaste, gum, candy, and beauty products often use mint oil.
Using fresh mint and other herbs and spices in cooking can help a person add flavor while reducing their sodium and sugar intake.
Throughout history, people have used different species of mint plants in medicine. Different types of mint plants offer a range of antioxidant qualities and potential health benefits, especially for people who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
In this article, we provide a nutritional breakdown of mint and explain its possible health benefits. We also give tips on including more mint in the diet.
This feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods.
Mint may have several potential health benefits.
Managing gastrointestinal problems
Mint may help regulate muscle relaxation.
Mint is a calming herb that people have used for thousands of years to help soothe an upset stomach or indigestion.
A 2019 review found that placebo-controlled studies support the use of peppermint oil as a remedy for a range of gastrointestinal conditions, including indigestion, IBS, stomach pain in children, and feelings of sickness after surgery.
The authors of the review found that mint works against harmful microbes, regulates muscle relaxation, and helps control inflammation.
A different review from the same year assessed 12 randomized controlled trials and found that peppermint oil was a safe and effective intervention for pain symptoms in adults with IBS.
However, a 2019 randomized, double-blind trial of 190 people with IBS found that peppermint oil did not significantly reduce symptoms.
More research is necessary to confirm the benefits of mint products in managing IBS.
Mint plants contain an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent called rosmarinic acid.
A 2019 study on rats found that rosmarinic acid reduced symptoms of asthma when compared to a control group that did not receive a supplement.
The mint plant family provides a range of plant compounds that have anti-allergenic effects, according to a 2019 review published in Frontiers in Pharmacology.
However, the content of mint extract in oils and ointments may be far stronger than dietary mint. There is very little research into the effect of dietary mint on the symptoms of allergies.
Soothing common cold symptoms
Mint contains menthol. This an aromatic decongestant that might help to break up phlegm and mucus, making it easier to expel.
Applying menthol ointments or vapor rubs may be a safe and effective treatment for children who have a common cold.
However, the American Lung Association (ALA) advise that scientific studies do not support the use of menthol for managing cold symptoms.
Despite this, some people may find that cold symptoms reduce after applying a menthol vapor rub.
The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) advise that peppermint oil may cause skin irritation and redness. They recommend that parents or carers do not apply the ointment directly to the chest or face of a child due to serious possible side effects after direct inhalation.
Mint leaves are a tender herb with gentle stems. It is best to add them raw or at the end of the cooking process. This helps them maintain their delicate flavor and texture.
When buying mint, look for bright, unblemished leaves. Store them in a reusable plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Mint is relatively easy to grow, and people can cultivate it at home, making it a sustainable way to add flavor to meals.
When preparing mint, use a sharp knife and cut gently. Using a dull knife or over-chopping will bruise the herb and lead to a loss of flavor on the cutting board surface.
Middle Eastern cuisines, such as lamb, soups, and vegetable salads often contain mint for flavor.
Other ideas include:
Making a mint limeade by mixing lime juice with sugar or stevia and muddled mint leaves. Top it off with filtered water and ice cubes.
Incorporating mint into a fresh fruit salsa with chopped apples, pear, lemon or lime juice, jalapeno, and honey. Serve with cinnamon pita chips or on top of baked chicken.
Jazzing up your water by adding mint leaves and cucumber for a refreshing treat.
Adding a few chopped mint leaves to your next chocolate chip cookie dough.
Pouring hot water over mint leaves and steeping for 5-6 minutes for homemade mint tea. Try using chocolate mint leaves for a twist.
Chopping mint and tossing with fresh pineapple for a quick snack.
Alternatively, you can try these healthful and delicious recipes from registered dietitians:
Superfood shamrock smoothie
powered by Rubicon Project
Like many herbs, mint can adversely affect some people.
People with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) should not use mint in an attempt to soothe digestive issues. According to a 2019 review, mint commonly acts as a trigger for GERD symptoms.
Taking peppermint oil in large doses can be toxic. It is essential to stick to the recommended doses of peppermint oil.
Pure menthol is poisonous and not for internal consumption. People should only ever apply it to the skin or a nearby surface, such as a pillow, to disperse fumes.
Do not apply mint oil to the face of an infant or small child, as it may cause spasms that inhibit breathing.
Speak with your healthcare provider to determine whether any of your medications could interact with mint or mint oil.
Sage is an herb native to the Mediterranean. It belongs to the same family as oregano, lavender, rosemary, thyme, and basil.
Herbs and spices can have extremely high antioxidant capacities and pack extra flavor into a meal. This means that people can use herbs to cut back on sodium intake, as less salt is used to flavor a meal.
The sage plant has gray-green edible leaves and flowers that can range in color from blue and purple to white or pink. There are more than 900 species of sage around the world.
Sage has a long history of medicinal use for ailments ranging from mental disorders to gastrointestinal discomfort. Research has supported some of its medical applications.
This Medical News Today Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods. It provides a nutritional profile of sage, an in-depth look at its possible health benefits, ways to incorporate more sage into the diet, and any potential health risks of consuming sage.
Sage essential oil will not be included in this article, as it is not recommended for consumption.
Fast facts on sage
Sage is part of the mint family, alongside oregano, lavender, rosemary, thyme, and basil.
Over recent years, studies demonstrating the health benefits of sage have grown in number.
Sage appears to contain a range of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds.
There are more than 900 species of sage.
Sage is highly nutritious and flavorsome.
Sage has several proven health benefits.
Sage can help protect the body’s cells from damage caused by free radicals due to its high antioxidant capacity.
Free radicals often cause cells to die and can lead to impaired immunity and chronic disease. Other potential benefits include:
1) Alzheimer’s treatment
A recent review of studies showed that species of sage could positively impact cognitive skills and protect against neurological disorders.
The study author maintains that:
“In vitro, animal and preliminary human studies have supported the evidence of Salvia plants to enhance cognitive skills and guard against neurodegenerative disorders.”
Other studies have shown that sage can also improve memory in young, healthy adults.
More research is required, as most studies have been carried out on two species of sage, Salvia officinalis (S. officinalis) and S. lavandulaefolia.
2) Lowering blood glucose and cholesterol
Sage can reduce the amount of glucose in the blood.
One study saw 40 people with diabetes and high cholesterol take sage leaf extract for 3 months.
At the end of the trial, the participants had lower fasting glucose, lower average glucose levels over a 3-month period, and lower total cholesterol, triglyceride, and levels of harmful cholesterol. However, the participants had increased levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol.
The researchers concluded:
“[Sage] leaves may be safe and have anti-hyperglycemic and lipid-profile-improving effects in hyperlipidemic type 2 diabetic patients.”
Another double-blind clinical trial was carried out on 80 individuals with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes. The trial also found that sage caused a positive effect on blood sugar levels. After 2 hours of fasting, blood sugar levels in individuals given sage were significantly decreased when compared with the control group.
This study concluded that sage might show benefit for people with diabetes to reduce glucose levels 2 hours after fasting.
3) Controlling inflammation
Although more evidence is needed to confirm this benefit, certain compounds in sage appear to have an anti-inflammatory action. One study investigated the effects of a range of these compounds on the inflammatory response in gingival fibroblasts. These are a common type of cell found in the connective tissue of the gums.
Some of the compounds in sage helped to reduce this type of inflammation.
More recent studies have supported the use of sage in dentistry for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Many other herbs and spices similar to sage also appear to have anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antimicrobial effects.
Sage contains a wealth of nutrients and vitamins. However, since it is normally consumed in such small amounts, sage does not provide significant amounts of calories, carbohydrate, protein, or fiber.
One teaspoonful of ground sage still contains several powerful nutrients, including:
3 milligrams (mg) of magnesium
1 mg of phosphorus
7 mg of potassium
2 micrograms (mcg) of folate
24 mcg of beta-carotene
41 international units (IU) of vitamin A
12 mcg of vitamin K
Sage also contains numerous anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that might be beneficial to health. These compounds include:
While further study is needed to confirm the actions of these compounds, many have already demonstrated positive effects on the body and its systems.
Sage can be used to flavor a meal or consumed in a range of delicious ways.
Sage can be eaten whole or ground. Adding sage to a dish is a great way to enhance flavor without adding extra calories or salt.
The herb often pairs well with poultry and pork.
Sage is often used as a fragrance in soaps and cosmetics due to its pleasant aroma. Sage extracts and herbal sage supplements are also available.
Try some of these healthy and delicious recipes developed by Registered Dietitians using sage:
Sausage and apple stuffing bites
Pumpkin sage dumplings
Apple and sage pork chops
Sweet potato & kale Mac N’ Cheese with sage breadcrumbs
Natural sage is safe for most people and causes little to no known side effects. The effectiveness and side effects from sage supplements will vary by brand and production process. Sage essential oil should not be consumed. It is possible to be allergic to sage.
Considering the overall eating pattern, rather than focussing on individual foods, is vital in disease prevention and achieving good health.
Thyme is a Mediterranean herb with dietary, medicinal, and ornamental uses. The flowers, leaves, and oil of thyme have been used to treat a range of symptoms and complaints.
The most common variety is Thymus vulgaris. A wide range of thyme products is available for purchase online.
This article looks at the medicinal uses and nutrition of thyme, as well as the history of its rise to popularity.
Fast facts on thyme
- Thyme is thought to have antibacterial, insecticidal, and possibly antifungal properties.
- People used thyme throughout history for embalming and to protect from the Black Death.
- Forms of thyme include fresh and dried herbs and essential oil.
Thymol is one of a naturally occurring class of compounds known as biocides.
These are substances that can destroy harmful organisms, such as infectious bacteria.
Used alongside other biocides, such as carvacrol, thyme has strong antimicrobial properties.
Killing the tiger mosquito
The tiger mosquito is native to tropical and subtropical areas of Southeast Asia.
A team at Chungbuk National University in South Korea reported that a combination of thymol, alpha-terpinene, and carvacrol was effective in killing off tiger mosquito larvae.
High blood pressure
Researchers at the University of Belgrade, Serbia, found that an aqueous extract obtained from wild thyme reduced blood pressure in tests on rats.
Rats respond to hypertension in a similar way to people, so the findings might have implications for humans.
More tests are required for the data to prove significant, however.
Foodborne bacterial infections
A team at the Center for Studies of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Portugal, studied the antimicrobial activity of essential oils extracted from a range of aromatic plants, including thyme oil.
They reported that thyme oil, even at low concentrations, showed potential as a natural preservative of food products against several common foodborne bacteria that cause human illness.
A Polish study tested thyme oil and lavender oil, and they that observed that thyme oil was effective against resistant strains of Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, Escherichia and Pseudomonas bacteria.
Researchers in Turkey looked at the effect of wild thyme on breast cancer activity, and specifically how it affected apoptosis, or cell death, and gene-related events in breast cancer cells.
They found that wild thyme caused cell death in breast cancer cells.
The fungus Candida albicans (C. albicans) is a common cause of yeast infections in the mouth and vagina, a recurring condition called “thrush.”
Researchers at the University of Turin, Italy, found that essential oil of thyme significantly enhanced the destruction of the C. albicans fungus in the human body.
Prolonging the stability of cooking oils
Lipid oxidation is a serious problem during food processing and storage. It can cause food to lose quality, stability, safety, and nutritional value.
Scientists from Warsaw, Poland, examined whether thyme extract might prolong the stability of sunflower oil at different temperatures.
Common skin problems
Skin problems are common worldwide. In some countries, herbal preparations are important medicines.
A team at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, carried out a study to assess the therapeutic benefits of a 10 percent chamomile extract cream and a 3 percent thyme essential oil antifungal cream for eczema-like lesions.
They noted that full healing occurred in 66.5 percent of people treated with a fungal cream containing thyme essential oil, compared with 28.5 percent of those using a placebo.
Results for the chamomile cream were similar to those for the placebo.
The researchers conclude:
“A 3 percent thyme essential oil cream could represent a relatively economical and easily available opportunity to treat and heal mild to moderate cases of fungal infections.”
However, they recommend further research.
Scientists from Leeds, England, tested the effects of myrrh, marigold, and thyme tinctures on Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes), the bacterium that causes acne. They found that thyme might be effective in treating acne.
Its antibacterial effect proved stronger than that of standard concentrations of benzoyl peroxide, the active ingredient in most acne creams and washes.
Benzoyl peroxide also causes a burning sensation and irritation on the skin, which means that a thyme tincture might be a solution to acne that leads to fewer unwanted effects.