Spring herbs – I’m always happy to see my little patch of stinging nettle every spring. The leaves decrease pain and act as a mild diuretic, accounting for their use in providing relief from allergies and arthritis. The young leaves, rich in iron, chlorophyll and vitamin C are excellent cooked as a vegetable. Once the leaves are cooked, they lose their sting, and you can drink the water for an extra boost. Herbalists use a strong infusion as a tonic for treating iron deficiency anemia. To keep your supply fresh, cut them back three or four times a year to encourage new growth, but the dried leaves can also be used to make an excellent tea – steep 1-2 tbsp dried leaves in 8 ounces of boiling water for 5-30 minutes. Strain, sweeten if desired and enjoy.
Lavender, it’s a good friend to have on the windowsill or in the garden, but Lavandula officinalis/Lavandula angustifolia is a herb we don’t give much thought to. Yet, for centuries it’s been used as a general tonic, sedative, antispasmodic, diuretic, and digestive aid. We use the tea and essential oil for insomnia, nervousness, fatigue, headaches, nausea, and a host of other complaints. Lavender is easy to grow in most climates. It doesn’t require a lot of water, likes full sun and well-drained soil. It will form fairly large bushes that can easily be made into a hedge. Harvest lavender as it blooms throughout the summer, and prune back by about a third each fall.
If you’re an avid gardener or athlete, this recipe is for you: Blend 2 drops rosemary essential oil, 1 drop lavender essential oil and 1 drop eucalyptus oil. (Avoid essential oils in pregnancy, and never take internally.) Add 4 teaspoons of sweet almond or sesame oil. Blend well. Apply to body, especially joints before going out to the gym or the garden. (Lavender makes a great athlete’s foot ointment, for the recipe, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org) Donna, the herb lady