What Are Aromatic Herbs Used for

4 aromatic herbs for your health

Health by Chiara Boracchi Aromatic herbs are precious natural remedies. Here are 4 useful herbs which are easy to grow on your balcony during spring.

Spring has finally come, and our gardens and balconies become full of scented aromatic herbs, which are good for cooking, and to be used as natural remedies for our health.


The name comes from the Latin word “salvare” (to save, heal), and refers to the numerous curative properties of this plant. The ancient Egyptians used it as a remedy against female infertility, whilst the Greek Dioscorides and Hippocrates advised their use for lesions. Sage’s leaves, from which infusions and tisanes can be obtained, have anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antibacterial properties.


This plant, which spontaneously grows along the Mediterranean coasts, is one of the herbs that are mostly cultivated in small pots. In the ancient times it was used to alleviate stomach disorders, as well as to purify the air in temples, where it was burnt, before the use of incense.  Rosemary is also used in the form of essential oil, as bactericide and carminative. It lowers cholesterol levels, and it can fight type 2 diabetes in the same way of medicines, according to a recent study of the Department of Nutrition Sciences of the University of Illinois on rosemary and oregano.


The name recalls regality: in fact, the Latin Pliny and Horace cite it for its regal scent. Basil has Indian and African origins, and it was brought to more temperate areas of Europe, where its leaves are widely used, mostly during summer. In the form of essential oil, it stimulates appetite and digestion, and if used on skin it alleviates the itch of insects bites.


Egyptians used thyme for the embalming, and Etruscans cultivated it for its varied properties. Its name comes from the Greek word thymos (soul, vital principle). As infuse or tisane, it is widely used to heal respiratory infections, cough, asthma, and bronchitis. It has an antiviral action, but in case of hypertension is better to avoid it.

Aromatic herbs

What herbs are, how to identify herbs, preserve them, and how to handle them, including sample recipes.

Most herbs are easy to grow in kitchen gardens or in containers, though there is no need as aromatic herbs are widely used in the kitchen and are available in most supermarkets and grocery stores, either fresh or dried. Herbs should be used fresh for the best flavor.

Ways to store and preserve aromatic herbs

Aromatic herbs are used in small quantities. Therefore the need to keep in good condition the unused ones.

Fresh – Keep them, stems in cold water, in a jar or glass inside the fridge. Fresh herbs would keep for 6 or 7 days.

In oil – Wash and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Introduce them in a jar and fill it with oil. The herbs would keep for 2 to 3 months and the preserving oil is excellent to condiment vegetables and salads.

Frozen – Wash, chop and freeze in plastic bags or in an ice try. Frozen herbs usually keep for 3 to 4 months.

In vinegar – Wash and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Introduce the herbs in a jar and fill it with vinegar. They should keep for a year. These herbs and the scented vinegar produce the best marinades.

Dry – For home dried herbs, choose healthy stems with the most leaves. Let them dry by hanging them in the shade, in a cool and dry place. The herbs would keep for a year inside paper bags or air tight containers.

Aromatic herbs

There are many aromatic herbs that not only have medicinal or cooking value, but also serve up a treat for the nose. Some aromatic herbs are also used in incense preparation. Aromatic herbs have value as far as aromatherapy is concerned, and their extracted oils are often used in fragrances.

It is long believed that inhaling certain smells can bring about therapeutic effects on the mind, such as calming it down and inducing sleep. Most scents are produced from extracting the essential oils from the herbs. So what are some good aromatic herbs that you should plant?

Chamomile is the one of the first herbs that will comes to mind. The smell of Chamomile is akin to fresh apples, and inhaling it can certainly calm down your nerves. Chamomile is better known as a sleep herbal tea, but there is no reason you can’t use its fragrance for relaxation.

Garden Sage is another famous aromatic herb that has been used as incense in many cultures throughout history. Just gather some sage leaves, dry them, crush them, and put them into a little pouch, and you will have its essence wherever you go.

Lavender with its small purple flowers is another herb that will delight many, although some may find its smell nauseating. Actually, although aromatic herbs may be sweet smelling, many are actually repellent against certain life forms, and some aromatic herbs like Lavender may even be used as natural repellent against moths, fleas and ticks. However, Lavender flowers in the garden will naturally attract Black Swallowtail butterflies.

Peppermint is another strong scented herb that is easy to grow and perennial in nature. According to a study, peppermint aroma can improve memory and help with sleeping problems. Its crushed leaves have a slight orange flavor. On its own, essential peppermint oil is a natural insect repellent.

Yet another aromatic herb for your herb garden is Thyme. Thyme was used in the past as incense, and placed underneath pillows to aid in sleep. In the garden, Thyme naturally attracts bees even though it has small flowers. Its aroma is warm and refreshing, good against fatigue and depression.

Finally, consider Rosemary herb. Its essential oil is used as an antiseptic and deodorant, which at the same time is revitalizing and invigorating. Inhaling its aroma can benefit meditation sessions. However, pregnant women and asthmatics should avoid it, as it can cause negative side effects.

Storing herbs

Freshly cut herb stems can be stored short term, in water or oil. If storing in water, keep them in the fridge, where they will keep for a week or more, depending on the type of herb. If stored in preserving oil, the herbs can last longer, at several months. Or you can freeze the herbs. Simply wash and dry the herbs, chop them into smaller pieces, and put them in a zip lock bag in the freezer.

Herbs can also be stored in room temperature for long periods, as long as they are dried and kept away from light. Don’t dry them out too much though, because that will also remove most of the oils, which is what gives the herbs their aroma. Also, you can consider using vinegar. Storing herbs in vinegar can keep them fresh for many months.

Aromatic herbs

Aromatic herbs in cooking have the ability to convert our dishes into delicacies. They are perfect for seasoning stews and adding flavour to any recipe. Nowadays, aromatic herbs are widely used in Mediterranean cuisine for its medicinal, aromatic and seasoning qualities.

How to stop feeling cold, foods and tips for staying warm in winter naturally

Health Published on 12 Jan 2019 by Paola Castellani Leggi l’articolo in italiano Natural remedies can be very helpful when it comes to not feeling cold in winter: here are some ways to keep the body warm, at home and outdoors, including what to eat to increase body heat.

In winter or in cold weather, some people cope with low temperatures worse than others, constantly needing to accumulate heat and warm their bodies up both on the outside and inside. Along with wearing appropriate winter clothing, we can use natural homemade remedies as well as eat certain foods and spices to help us to get through the coldest days without too struggle.

How to fight the cold: there are many ways to warm up naturally, like eating foods that generate body heat or wearing the right winter clothes © Unsplash

Tips for staying warm in winter and cold weather

Generally, this problem is more common with women who, due to a physiological characteristic of female energy (yin), feel and suffer the cold more. The regular consumption of foods that increase body heat helps keep up the energy levels of people who are prone to feeling cold and who, as a consequence, risk incurring in a general state of malaise, fatigue, with cold extremities and, last but not least, a higher likelihood of catching a cold or the flu. Food is equal to heat and thermal energy, so we should pay attention to what we eat, trying to choose yang-energy foods (which heat us up), and leaving all those foods that have yin energy (which cool us down) to warmer seasons.

What to eat to keep the body warm

In terms of spices, opt for typically wintry ones, such as cinnamon and cloves, used extensively in the making of desserts and teas, as well as for thyme, chilli, pepper, ginger, marjoram and cumin. In fact, we can find great commercially available blends that contain all the necessary ingredients to prepare an excellent warming infusion. Another great addition to our list is fennel.

Always choose hot drinks, both during the day and at mealtime, when it’s also advisable to prioritise hot soups, made with vegetables or beans and perhaps with a few spices, which will help fuel our inner “fire” to keep the body warm.

What should be avoided is eating too many foods that cool the body down, such as chilled drinks and cold foods: even citrus fruits, which, though beneficial because of their high vitamin C content, have notoriously cooling effects. We suggest not to eliminate them from your diet but to alternate with more yang foods, to return heat to the body. However, if you suffer badly from the cold, shift consumption of these foods to other times of the year.

How to keep the body warm at home

During the coldest days you can try a drink that will bring balance and help you gain “heat” and well-being. It is consumed traditionally and commonly used as a macrobiotic remedy, perfect for when the cold has seeped into your bones, causing a feeling of illness.

Simply follow this recipe: prepare a bancha or kukicha tea and add a teaspoon of kuzu, the starch drawn from the root of the Pueraria lobata plant, after diluting it in cold water. Return the pot to the fire and bring to the boil for a couple of minutes, until the tea goes back to being transparent. Add an umeboshi plum, a teaspoon of organic shoyu, and 10/15 drops of fresh grated ginger. Drink it hot and the effect will be immediate. It’s also worth trying as a remedy for a bad cold, its effectiveness will surprise you.

Use fresh ginger to make hot drinks and protect yourself from the winter cold © Ingimage

Ways to stop feeling the cold outdoors: what to wear

Clothing is extremely important and during winter it has to be adequate both for adults and for children. Adequate clothing allows us to keep body temperature constant and gives us a pleasant sensation of heat that will lead us to not heating our homes excessively, a habit that can have negative effects on our health as well as the environment.

Wool and silk are therm-regulating and highly absorbent, perfect for children who sweat easily. These two fibres allow for great breath ability, a mechanism that transfers the skin‘s humidity outwards and keeps body temperature constant, a fundamental requirement to allow still-developing bodies and organs to grow strong and healthy. We advise to opt for t-shirts, both long- and short-sleeved, made of merino wool, derived from sheep in uncontaminated areas, and silk, considered the “queen of fibres”, which is hypoallergenic and antibacterial. Truly delicate and light to the touch, simple garments made of merino wool and silk are the perfect combination to keep warm during winter.

Warm, soft merino wool, the most natural way to defend ourselves against the cold © Ingimage

Cold hands and feet, causes and natural remedies

Many people complain of constantly cold hands and feet. This is undoubtedly an individual characteristic that may be related to circulatory or hormonal issues, or could simply be the result of a sedentary lifestyle, either chosen willingly or, perhaps, not. Whatever the cause, in addition to following the above tips – hot herbal teas and infusions, woolly socks and a good pair of gloves, perhaps a woolly hat as well – there are a few precautions that might improve the situation.

A good daily walk is always a good idea, after having rubbed your hands and feet with a dry flannel to warm them up, and where possible you should avoid taking the lift, because climbing a few stairs can be very beneficial. Massaging hands and feet every day also helps, and for extra warmth add a few drops of cinnamon or ginger essential oils to a neutral cream or almond oil. Take care to always dilute these oils and not apply them directly because their rubefacient action, which reddens the epidermis, could lead to congested skin.

Use chilli seeds in a foot bath and your feet will feel warm and toasty © Ingimage

Remedies against the cold, how to keep warm naturally

Foot baths should also be considered, both as a way to warm up and as a moment of relaxation for the entire body. When circulation slows down, energy tends to concentrate in the core, and adding chilli seeds to a foot bath can be a great remedy to restore energy and reactivate blood flow. In a basin, add hot water and a teaspoon of chilli seeds; even a small amount of fresh grated ginger. Don’t be alarmed if you perceive a tingling feeling or if your skin reddens slightly. This may not even occur, as it varies from person to person, but you’ll surely enjoy this remedy’s benefits.

Alternating hot and cold water in the shower can also have an excellent effect on body heat, especially when your extremities are really chilly. Perform the alternation for about ten minutes, until your circulation has reactivated fully.

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