Herbs are powerhouses of nutrition and antioxidants that we can easily include into our diet on a daily basis. Fresh herbs like mint, basil, holy basil, peppermint and lemon balm can be added to smoothies for flavor, sprinkled over salads or brewed into a healing tea. Sage, rosemary, thyme and oregano are delicious when added to cooked dishes. Never overlook an opportunity to add fresh herbs to whatever you are eating.
By regularly consuming a variety of fresh herbs, you are consuming a broad range of potent plant compounds that can protect and heal the body. Below are three of the most potent herbs and their benefits.
Thyme contains powerful chemical compounds, in particular thymol and carvacrol, which have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Eating fresh thyme regularly or drinking it as a tea can provide a powerful boost for the immune system. Thyme is also known to support the respiratory system as it helps to fight infection, soothe the airways and promote healthy lung function. Fresh thyme tea with a little raw honey added can greatly support the immune system when fighting a cold, flu or respiratory illness.
Something that people often don’t realize is that thyme is a concentrated source of antioxidants, in fact is has one of the highest levels of antioxidants of any herb. It contains phenolic compounds including lutein, zeaxanthin, and thymonin. This makes thyme a powerful anti-inflammatory that can help to neutralize free radicals and prevent oxidative stress.
Rosemary has long been linked to improved memory and brain function. Science is now supporting this, and studies show that the compound carnosic acid, found in rosemary, helps to fight free radicals in the brain and aids the prevention of neurodegeneration. Rosemary is now being studied as a therapeutic tool for the prevention of Alzheimer’s.
Not surprisingly, rosemary is a potent anti-inflammatory and a rich source of antioxidants. Both benefits combined support healthy nerve function, boost the immune system and improve blood circulation. Some of the powerful antioxidant compounds found in rosemary are: rosmarinic acid, caffeic acid, carnosol and betulic acid.
Rosemary, like thyme, also contains strong antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that protect the body from infection.
Oregano is yet another healing herb that is a concentrated source of antioxidants. Some of the powerful compounds found in oregano are thymol and carvacrol. In test tube studies using high concentrations, oregano was shown to protect against viral infections, including the herpes simplex virus.
Oregano also contains the potent antioxidant compounds rosmarinic acid and thymol, which fight free radicals, reduce oxidative stress and act as anti-inflammatory agents that protect the body from overall inflammation.
Oregano oil has also been researched for its ability to support and protect the liver.
To give you an idea of the high amount of antioxidants in oregano; oregano has 42 times more antioxidant activity per gram than apples, and 4 times more than blueberries. Even a sprinkling of fresh oregano is providing an excellent source of antioxidants. Certainly a compelling reason to include plenty of fresh oregano into your diet.
As a therapeutic tool you can make fresh oregano tea and breathe in the steam to help ease the symptoms of a cold, flu or virus, plus you can of course drink the tea.
Don’t underestimate the healing power of herbs. In areas where people commonly live to over 100 years, a common habit they share is the drinking of tea made with fresh herbs from the kitchen garden. Rosemary, sage, oregano, milk thistle and thyme are a few of the teas that centenarians in these ‘blue zones’ enjoy drinking.
In the light of the above, it is no wonder that herbs are one of the greatest examples of food as medicine.