Saying YES! to Herbs

Saying YES! to Herbs

Weeds are good for you.

If you want to live a long, vigorous life, herbalist Rosemary Gladstar would tell you to eat weeds. Gladstar, author of Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, says, “it’s those ‘vulgar’ plants that grow everywhere, challenging us, that espouse true vitality and passion for life. These are the longevity herbs.”  

Vitamin and mineral-rich dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) and nettles (Urtica dioica) top the list. The fresh leaves (wear gloves when handling fresh stinging nettles) are delicious steamed, stir-fried or mixed into casseroles (the cooking process removes the sting). Gladstar also marinates the leaves in oil and vinegar. Blend nettles, apple slices and water into a refreshing smoothie. You also can consume the dried leaves as a tea or a tincture. 

Some plants, including dandelion and nettles, are rich in antioxidants, molecules that mop up the free radical damage associated with the wear-and-tear of life.

Oxidative damage underlies the top three killers in the United States—heart disease, cancer and stroke—all diseases that begin early in life. You can protect yourself from such health problems by consuming antioxidant herbs like green and black tea (Camellia sinensis), turmeric (Curcuma longa, the chief spice in curry), bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), hawthorn berries (Crataegus spp.), garlic (Allium sativum) and cayenne (Capsicum annuum).

Good thing winter is on its way. Drink up those teas and enjoy your spicy suppers!