Category: Herbs

Bay tree, Laurel, Lurus Nobilis

sam's birthday 017 Bay Tree in our garden, Photo by JMorton

A bay tree is an evergreen tree, thank God for that as bay trees provide the bay leaves or laurel necessary for many a recipe.

Bay leaves may be used fresh or dried, which has a stronger flavour.

I love them in stews or when I am doing mechados.

In ancient times, the bay leaves were threaded together to make a laurel wreathes to crown outstanding poets and victorious soldiers.

Tuba-Tuba Plant (Jatropha curcas)

Tuba-Tuba Plant (Jatropha curcas)

Tuba tuba, photo by PH Morton

Tuba tuba, photo by PH Morton

Tuba-Tuba Plant (Jatropha curcas)

Our holiday in the Philippines was one of hectic activity after another. We walked for miles, we climbed and climbed. There were some death-defying moments.¬† We also swam, we travelled by water, we travelled by air, we travelled by land and the most trying of all, we trek on foot. We did everything almost humanly possible. ūüôā ūüôĀ

It was no wonder some of us came off worse for wear. We had pains in our feet, we had pains on our knees.  We had pains in our head, and we had pains in our stomach.  My mother felt pain in her armpit, she needed a hilot (massage).

Our kindly sister-in-law, Alma, who is a bit of a herbalist (albulario or is it albularia?) advised applying tuba-tuba in the affected area. Without much ado, she went to Quiapo, where you can buy all sorts of herbs and more.

Armed with a bunch of tuba-tuba and a lit candle, Alma started to do her magic. One by one, we let her apply leaves of tuba tuba, warmed in the light of the candle. Bert went first, with his swollen foot, followed by Marilou with both her aching knees and then me with my fat painful knee as well.

We were supposed to leave the tuba-tuba taped into our skin overnight for it to do its work properly. The leaves apparently draw out the aches and pains.

I have to admit, after just an hour my aching knee felt decidedly better. Tuba-tuba works.

The following morning Bert reported that the swelling on his foot had marginally subsided. Marilou, as well, said that she felt better.

Apparently, tuba-tuba is a proven wonder herb, so much so that the Philippines’ Department of Health has recognised its medicinal merit.

The benefit of tuba-tuba does not stop there. The barks and seeds have been found to be a good source for biodiesel.

Tuba-tuba is a low maintenance plant. It can grow anywhere and in any type of soil. It can grow up to 3 to 8 metres in height, a good hedge plant around the garden.

Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia)

Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia)

I absolutely adore this herb and it seems insects do as well (see photo above).

Lavender has scented leaves and fragrant  flowers.  It belongs to the mint family.

We have lavender bushes by our backdoor and I always pinch a few leaves to crush in my fingers. The scent is divine.

Lavender is a versatile herb.  It is used in oil infusion, which can be used as a very mild form of sedative, it is used to relieve headache and stress.  It is also used in cooking to make lavender infused sugar.

Lavender is extensively farmed in France for its essential oil used in perfumes, soap and oil production.  It is such a treat to slide between bed linens sprayed with lavender scent.  It is very calming.

It is such a treat to slide between bed linens sprayed with lavender scent.  It is very calming.  Send you off to a relaxing sleep.

The plant is also beautiful to look at in the garden.  Lavender plants can get leggy, so cut it roughly in the autumn to get a more bushy specimen comes spring.

Did you know?

I always thought (hehehe) that lavender is named after its lavender coloured flower. ¬†Apparently this was not the case. ¬†In ancient times, the Romans used lavender to add to their bath water not only for the scent but for its therapuitic properties. This wonderful plant was therefore called lavender from the Roman word, lavare, meaning ‘to wash’

Lavender flower meaning is devotion and vertue.

Peony (Paeoniaceae)

Peonies in our garden, Photo by PH Morton

Peace for Peonies, Photo by PH Morton

Peony (Paeoniaceae)

The peony is nature’s work of art. ¬†It is outstandingly beautiful.¬† The more you look, the more you realise how truly magnificent is Creator is.¬† What can I say?¬† It brings out the spiritual in me.

The above photo was taken by GlobalGranary.org’s official photographer, PH Morton. ¬†The plant was actually bought from QVC, many, many years ago. ¬†We have one peony in our front garden, planted directly into the ground and seems to flower year after year.

Another one is planted in a big pot against a wall in our back garden.  This one is more temperamental in flowering.  Despite the bushy growth, it did not provide any flower last year.  And yet it gets to be watered more often than the one in the front garden.

By the way peony is the unofficial national flower of China.  It is yet to be ratified to make it a national emblem.

In China, the peony is a symbol of nobility and values that it is often called ¬†the ‘king of flowers.’

As the New Lunar Chinese Year gets on its way, be reminded that peonies also symbolise peace as well as prosperity.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe)

The Ancient Greeks believed that ginger helps with digestion problems. They also used ginger as an antidote to  poisoning.

ginger

Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe)

Ginger has been claimed to decrease the pain from arthritis, though studies have been inconsistent. It may also have blood thinning and cholesterol lowering properties that may make it useful for treating heart disease.

Preliminary research also indicates that nine compounds found in ginger may bind to human serotonin receptors, possibly helping to affect anxiety.

Advanced glycation end-products are possibly associated in the development of several pathophysiologies, including diabetic cataract for which ginger was effective in preliminary studies, apparently by acting through antiglycating mechanisms.

Ginger compounds are active against a form of diarrhea which is the leading cause of infant death in developing countries. Zingerone is likely to be the active constituent against enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli heat-labile enterotoxin-induced diarrhoea.

Ginger has been found effective in multiple studies for treating nausea caused by seasickness, morning sickness and chemotherapy though ginger was not found superior over a placebo for pre-emptively treating post-operative nausea. Ginger is a safe remedy for nausea relief during pregnancy.

Ginger as a remedy for motion sickness is still a debated issue. The television program Mythbusters performed an experiment using one of their staff who suffered from severe motion sickness. The staff member was placed in a moving device which, without treatment, produced severe nausea. Multiple treatments were administered. None, with the exception of the ginger and the two most common drugs, were successful. The staff member preferred the ginger due to lack of side effects. Several studies over the last 20 years were inconclusive with some studies in favor of the herb and some not.

A common thread in these studies is the lack of sufficient participants to yield statistical significance. Another issue is the lack of a known chemical pathway for the supposed relief.

– Wikepedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginger

Herb: Coriander

The leafy coriander is so lovely to grow by your kitchen’s window sill, though strong sunlight must be avoided. The leaves can be added to soups, salad, stews, casseroles and noodles. It can also be used as garnishing.

The fruits when dried is called coriander seeds. I love it grinded as a spice for soups, curries and tagines.

Herb: Sages

Sage

Sage

Herb: Sages

This herb is refreshingly fragrant.  It is rich in calcium, iron and polyphenols.

Apparently some research conducted had proven that sages can increase brain power and specially good for short-term memory, like recalling words.  (I probably need to increase my sages intake.) ;(

Sages can also improve healthy sleep patter.  (I really need sage!)

Sages can be grown outside in the garden or even inside on a sunny windowsill.

Sage is delicious with pork and also with apple sauce. ¬†Don’t forget that it is also delicious, not to mention nutritious, to add chopped sages to salad.

Sages is indeed a superfood!

Herb: Bangbangsit


Photo: Abe V Rotor

Herb: Bangbangsit

The barrio of Marag was in the middle of nowhere. The people are literally cut off from everything. No running water, no electricity, no shopping centres, no cars, nothing!

There is no clinic or medical centre either, ergo, no doctors or nurses.

People have learned to self-cure. I remember that an herb grows abundantly almost everywhere in Marag and it cures most things, from itch, to sore and even insect bites.

This plant is called the bangbangsit which is an Ilocano word that means smelly. Bangbangsit leaves when crushed will give off minty pungent smell. The pulped leaves when applied to sores or itch give immediate soothing effect.

The scientific name of the Bangbangsit is Lantana camara