“Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.” The meaning of these famous lyrics in the folk song, “Scarborough Fair” are often disputed, but these four herbs are staples in many American kitchens.
Without even knowing it, you might already have a good grasp on herbs simply by using them for cooking. Culinary herbs that we relate to for their mouth-watering flavors and savory tastes may have also, at one time, been known for their medicinal qualities as well.
Fresh parsley is known in some herbalist circles as an emmenagogue, or an herb that stimulates blood flow and kick-starts your period. While this claim isn’t yet scientifically proven, some clinical studies do show evidence that parsley can treat conditions like high blood pressure, allergies, and inflammatory diseases.
But what are the best herbs for lifelong health? Ahead, we look at some of the most common, readily-available options to help you start your herbal apothecary.
This herb tops our list because of its all-around digestive power—which, in turn, aids most of your body’s functions. Drinking ginger tea, chewing on ginger root, or sucking on ginger candy after a meal helps activate the gut and soothe any discomfort from overeating. And when you’re sick, ginger’s stimulating effect encourages your body to move that bug through your system until it’s out.
Ginger contains many bioactive components known for bestowing wonderful pharmacological benefits. Along with its digestive power, some clinical studies have found ginger to contain powerful antioxidants and cardiovascular-disease-preventing compounds, too.
Chances are, you’ve gotten a whiff of a lavender candle, eye pillow or bath soap before. And you probably relaxed instantly!
That’s because lavender has a calming effect on the nervous system, which can, in turn, improve mental clarity, soothe aches and pains, and boost your mood.
If you want to get a concentrated dose of lavender, take it in the form of a tincture blend, or buy dried lavender to steep like a loose-leaf tea.
Holy Basil (Tulsi)
With a sweet, earthy aroma that smells almost like bubble gum, Holy Basil has an ancient history that dates back to ancient Indian texts.
Drink tulsi as a tea, take it as a tincture, or swallow it in the form of a capsule to support a healthy stress response. Known as an adaptogen, tulsi regulates the system and helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels, mental clarity and overall balance.
Another staple most likely already in your pantry, garlic is common in our diet for a reason.
While garlic’s reputation for warding off vampires may be something to giggle about, it really is one of the more powerful herbs capable of boosting your immune system, supporting your heart, and improving your metabolism.
Some studies also point to garlic’s anti-cancer qualities, proving it to be a powerful herbal ally to chemotherapy and radiation. In a randomized clinical trial, patients who ate garlic showed better antioxidant status in their bloodwork.
And, not to mention, it’s tasty.