• Monique Abraham HHP

Kitchen Herbs that heal!

Even those of us lacking a single green thumb can grow a handful of tasty and restorative herbs. They're that easy. And from a little effort in the dirt, you'll soon find yourself simmering homemade salve and flavoring your food with the leaves of your labors.

Most herbs grow happily on sunny windowsills as well as in garden beds. Pick up your chosen seedlings at any local garden center, along with some soil and pots, if needed.

Then just set your freshly potted herbs on a south-facing windowsill or wait until after the last frost and pop the seedlings into the earth. Add water, sit back and watch the growing take place.

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

It's no surprise that these four herbs are hummed together; they're the perfect culinary basics. And all four do well outdoors in warm, sunny areas.Rosemary and thyme are perennials, meaning once you plant them they'll come back every year. So will sage in milder climates. Little or no garden? No problem.

They do quite well in cramped quarters or pots. Beyond their flavor contributions, these herbs pass the ‘good for you' test, according to Zoe Gardner, program coordinator of the University of Massachusetts Medicinal Plant Program. Parsley has received little attention from researchers, says Gardner, but it has traditionally been used to treat indigestion (just ask Peter Rabbit!). Plus, it's high in vitamins A and C, fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and riboflavin.

Sage has received more scientific scrutiny: It improved both mood and cognitive functioning in a 2005 study, reported researchers in Neuropsychopharmacology (yes, that's really its name). And patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease who were given sage extract scored significantly better on cognitive tests than a comparison group given a placebo, according to a study published in 2003 in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics.

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