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The Healing Power of Herbs

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food" - Hippocrates, Greece, 460-370BC

This quote still rings true today. Here are the chemical and nutritional properties and history of the Herbs we use in our Herb Spread.

Parsley - petroselinum crispum

The Superfood Herb

Contains: Parsley is a source of flavonoids and antioxidants, especially luteolin, apigenin,[10] folic acid, vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin A. Half a tablespoon (a gram) of dried parsley contains about 6.0 µg of lycopene and 10.7 µg of alpha carotene as well as 82.9 µg of lutein+zeaxanthin and 80.7 µg of beta carotene.[

Health Benefits: Serves as an Anticancer Powerhouse, Fights Diabetes, Promotes Bone Health, Boosts Immune System, a Natural Antibiotic, Keeps the Heart Healthy, Detoxifying.

Culinary Uses: A versatile flavour for almost any meal - particularly liked by most children!

Used in Mediterranean, European, English and American cuisine. 

Rosemary - rosmarinus officinalis

The Herb of Remembrance (for soldiers lost in war, or as love charm for new brides!)

Contains: a number of phytochemicals, including rosmarinic acid, camphor, caffeic acid, ursolic acid, betulinic acid, carnosic acid and carnosol.[18]

Health Benefits: used to treat a wide variety of ailments over many centuries including digestive and respiratory complaints, or to improve the memory and circulation. ....Find out more

Culinary Uses: Native to the Meditteranean, the bitter flavour goes well with meats, cheeses and most dishes! Also makes a delicious herbal tea. 

  • Considered a sacred plant! deters unwanted insects in the garden, but still loved by the bees especially as it flowers during winter in NZ. Loves to grow by the sea!

Sage - salvia officinalis -

The Purifying Herb (burned in ceremonial cleansing by English monks and American Indians)

Contains: tannic acid, oleic acid, ursonic acid, ursolic acid, carnosol, carnosic acid, fumaric acid, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, niacin, nicotinamide, flavones, flavonoid glycosides, and estrogenic substances

Health Benefits: used since ancient times as a diuretic, (reducing water retention), a local anesthetic for the skin, a styptic, (stop bleeding), diuretic, emmenagogue, (assist women's hormones/cycles) and tonic.... Anti-bacterial properties used for hair care, insect bites and wasp stings, nervous conditions, mental conditions, oral preparations for inflammation of the mouth, tongue and throat, and also to reduce fevers.[7] Find out more

Culinary Uses: Many olde English recipes require the pungent, minty flavour of sage (not in favour by the French!) to flavour meats, stews, bread etc. A strong, minty flavour.

  • There are so many types of sage - I especially love purple sage, and often make a tea to soothe sore throats or headaches.

Thyme - thymus vulgaris

The Herb of Courage (placed under pillows or gifted to soliders on their way to war)

Contains: compounds such as p-cymene, myrcene, borneol, and linalool.[9]

Health Benefits: Thymol, an antiseptic, is an active ingredient in various commercially produced mouthwashes such as Listerine.[10] Before the advent of modern antibiotics, oil of thyme was used to medicate bandages.[2] It has also been shown to be effective against various fungithat commonly infect toenails.[11] Thymol can also be found as the active ingredient in some all-natural, alcohol-free hand sanitizers. A tisane made by infusing the herb in water can be used for coughs and bronchitis.[8] Find out more

Culinary Uses: A classic herb in a Bouquet Garni, Thyme has traditionally been used to flavour soups, stews, meats, stuffing, savoury muffins etc. Pungent and aromatic. 

  • Bees love thyme flowers! and infuse their honey with this unique flavour.​

Oregano - origanum vulgarae

The Pizza Herb

Contains: Over 60 different compoundsidentified, with the primary ones being carvacrol and thymol ranging to over 80%, while lesser abundant compounds include p-cymene, γ-terpinene, caryophyllene, spathulenol, germacrene-D, β-fenchyl alcohol and δ-terpineol.[20]

Health Benefits: Not used medicinally in general. Companies in the US that have promoted medical effects have been fined for mis-information. However scientific studies have proven oregano to be an effective anti-bacterial due to a complicated chemical structure which bacteria cannot evolve to survive in its presence - unlike modern anti-biotic medicine. Find out more Culinary Uses: Used in cuisine across the Meditteranean, South America, and the Phillipines, - especially in Italian recipes such as pizza, pasta, meat and fish. * Flourishing most of the year with fragrant, fluffy flowers, oregano is ideal in every garden.

NZ Spinach / Kokihi - Tetragonia tetragonioides

The Seaside Herb

Contains: a rich source of iron, Vitamins A, C, K (styptic), Vitamin B6, Manganese and smaller quantities of iron, Vitamin B2(riboflavin), Vitamin E, Zinc, Calcium, Magnesium

Health Benefits: Used to treat scurvy by Captain Cook, and as a generally nourishing plant by Maori, Australians and South Americans where it is considered an edible weed Find out more

Culinary Uses: A tasty alternative to spinach - used in salads in most of the finest restaurants in South America, (Peru). Grows wild happily in many coastal areas of New Zealand.

  • I love the tiny crystals dotted all over the fleshy leaves of this plant! and how it pops up all over the garden wherever it likes - being tricky to cultivate where you want it! 

Nasturtium - tropaeolum

The Trophy Herb (named after resemblance to shields and helmets - presented after battles!)

Contains: The flowers contain about 130 mg vitamin C per 100 grams (3.5 oz),[24] about the same amount as is contained in parsley.[25], 45 mg of lutein per 100 g,[26] which is the highest amount found in any edible plant. Also high in sulphur - a natural antibiotic.

Health Benefits: antiseptic and expectorant qualities.[24] assist chest colds, promotes the formation of new blood cells.[24] also respiratory and urinary tract infections.[28] Find out more

Culinary Uses: The very spicy and sweet flavour of both the leaves and flowers are a tasty and colourful addition to salads. Use the leaves to wrap rice salads/dolma (instead of grape leaves)

  • Nasturtiums grow vigorously in most wild places all year around on Waiheke! but are very easy to remove if you find they are taking over! Also helps to fix nitrogen back into the soil 

Plantain - plantago minor

The Field Herb (Ancient herbal folklore worships this humble herb for it's healing properties)

Contains: High in mucilage- a glutinous substance similar to that found in aloe vera which has a soothing effect on the digestive system, reducing inflammation and gas.

Health Benefits: astringent, anti-toxic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-histamine, as well as demulcent, expectorant, styptic and diuretic.[4] [28] Also used as a poultice to stop bleeding or heal wounds, snake bite or insect stings. The bitterness stimulates digestion Find out more

Culinary Uses: The slight bitterness doesn't appeal to most palates in modern cuisine, although the fresh aroma of cut grass / corn is somehow appetising! Chopped finely into salads or smoothies will boost your vitamin intake and help with any digestive complaints! * Found growing wild all over the world!!! 

Dandelion - taraxacum officinale

The Ancient Herb (Fossils have been found from the glacial era 15,000 years ago)

Contains: flavonoids including luteolin, apigenin, isoquercitrin (a quercetin-like compound), caffeic acid, and chlorogenic acid. Also terpenoids, triterpenes, and sesquiterpenes.

Very high in Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, E and K. Calcium, Iron, Manganesium, Manganese.

Health Benefits: Dandelion has been used to treat a wide variety of ailments throughout history, including most internal / digestive, and external / skin complaints. Scientific tests have proven anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and anti-oxidative qualities. Find out more

Culinary Uses: As with plantain, the bitter taste limits culinary appeal. However, blended with other ingredients in salads, soups or smoothies, dandelion leaves provide a concentrated intake of important nutrients, and aid healing without being too distasteful! Try steaming the flowers with sunflower oil, salt and garlic! DELICIOUS! Easy to consume in Herb Spread ; )

Calendula - family asteraceae - calendula officinalis

The Sun Herb (Harnessing the healing energy of the sun - derived from calendar/sun's path)

Contains: (in the petals) flavonol glycosides, triterpene oligoglycosides, oleanane-type triterpene glycosides, saponins, and a sesquiterpeneglucoside.[7][8

Health Benefits: For centuries, Calendula petals have been used to create potions for healing skin ailments and in teas/salads for internal health. Scientific testing has proven antihemorrhagic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties - helping to detoxify the liver, aid women's health, slow bleeding and heal wounds. Find out more

Culinary Uses: The golden petals look beautiful in salads, and in ancient times were used to colour butter and cheese. 

  • Calendula is so easy to grow - self-seeds everywhere, and adds sunny colour to your garden!

Lavender - lavandula stoechas

The Holy Herb (Used in biblical times to prepare holy essence or for cleansing)

Contains: linalool (26%) caryophyllene (8%).[31]

Health Benefits: used over centuries for it's healing, aromatic and calming effects, recent scientific testing has proven antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, properties.

Lavandula Angustifolia is generally used for fragrant and healing purposes

Lavandula grosso lisso is sweet scented - best suited for perfume.

Lavandula dentata is the common hedge variety - flowering most of the year round.

Lavandula Spika is very strong - best used for anti-septic potions. 

Find out more - wikipedia          Find out more - Happy DIY Home

Culinary Uses: We have chosen the Stoechas variety for our Herb Spread because of it's perfect culinary flavour - minty and fresh. According to research, this was the original variety first mentioned in ancient Greece. Referenced in French cuisine for flavouring shortbread, salads, cheeses and dressings, scone and even marshmallow! and in America for custards, desserts, sugar and honey.

  • The leaves are often used instead of Rosemary for a milder flavour for teas or savoury meals.

Our Herb spread features the leaves in autumn- winter and flowers in spring - summer