Great Lakes Permaculture

Herbal medicine from culinary herbs

If you are like most gardeners in Northwest Ohio, you are savoring the wonderful weather we have been experiencing the last few days. Hopefully this is not the last of our Indian summer. But as I walk through the garden looking for the last few items to harvest, seeds to be gathered, items to be canned or dehydrated, I remember a recent presentation provided by Vicki Abrams Motz, PhD Assistant Professor Biological and Applied Health Sciences, Ohio Northern University. She provided a group of enthusiasts an insight into the world of herbal medicines with ordinary household herbs. Many of which you have outside your back door or growing on your window sill. Lets take a look at a few of the concepts and recipes provided.

The definition of herb means different things to different groups, the botanist believes that an herbaceous plant is a plant that has leaves and stems that die down at the end of the growing season to the soil level leaving no persistent woody stem above ground. The culinary world believes that an herb is typically distinguished by the leafy green parts of a plant (either fresh or dried), and spices, from other parts of the plant (usually dried), including seeds, berries, bark, root and fruit.

More importantly all green plants contain antioxidants and plants in general develop protective mechanisms against particular stressors such as bacteria and fungi. As a Permaculture designer, this is a key concept creating poly-cultures and plant guilds. We want to use those protective mechanisms to assist the surrounding plants, utilizing their strength and protecting the surrounding plants weaknesses. When harvesting your herbs, remember that the time of the day and the season have a lot to do with the potency of the herb, most herbs should be picked for their leaves in the early morning right after the dew has subsided.


Herbal sore throat gargle
Make a strong tea out of thyme harvested from sunny area not shade
Add peppermint leaves to the tea if you desire for taste
Sweeten it with honey
Cool and strain to remove tea leaves
Store in a clean container, gargle for sore throat and laryngitis

Herbal cough syrup
Add one quarter cup fresh horehound leaves or one eighth cup dried
Bring to a boil
Remove from the heat and allow steeping for 10 minutes
Strain to remove the leaves
Add 1 cup honey or to taste, mixing well
Store in a clean container, this will last months at room temperature

Suggestion : Use a glass cooking dish or pan and utensils to eliminate any interactions between the herbs and metal pans or utensils

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