After the scorching heat and the messy rains, winter comes as a sweet disguise. The weather is pleasant, the mood in the air is eclectic, and there is a feeling of being outdoors more often than sitting indoors. A change in the weather also changes our daily lifestyle as longer nights give us ample periods of rest. But a drop in temperature can catch us unprepared and our bodies will succumb to these changes. The last week I have been in bed with a sore throat, running nose and a bad back pain. Well the weather caught me unprepared for which I had to sadly pay as I got stuck indoors 🙁
Fortunately help is at hand. This week, we list you a few common herbs that can be of benefit for various ailments seen during winters.
The flowering peppermint plant has been utilized throughout history to treat a number of medical conditions, including nasal congestion. The oil from the peppermint plant contains menthol. When inhaled, menthol has been demonstrated to provide relief of nasal congestion and to enhance memory.
It is a herbaceous rhizomatous perennial plant growing to 30–90 cm tall, with smooth stems, square in cross section. The rhizomes are wide-spreading, fleshy, and bare fibrous roots. The leaves are from 4–9 cm long and 1.5–4 cm broad. The leaves and stems are usually slightly hairy and the flowers are purple, 6–8 mm long.
Peppermint generally grows best in moist, shaded locations, and expands by underground stolons. Young shoot can be taken from old stocks and dibbled into the ground about 1.5 feet apart. Being invasive plants they grow quickly and cover the ground hence it is often grown in containers to restrict rapid spreading. It grows best with a good supply of water, without being water-logged, and planted in areas with part-sun to shade.
It is a rhizome, a perennial reed-like plant with annual leafy stems, about a meter (3 to 4 feet) tall. Ginger produces clusters of white and pink flower buds that bloom into yellow flower and because of its aesthetic appeal and the adaptation of the plant to warm climates; ginger is often used in landscaping.
To grow ginger select a piece of ginger that is large or midsized, and very well-branched. Leave it undisturbed in a dry indoor spot – not in total darkness, but not in direct sun either – a room with indirect light works best. Within a few weeks, sprouts will form at the tips of each branch. A few days later, place the sprouting hand of ginger on, or slightly beneath very well-draining soil. Fine roots will grow downwards first; stalks or canes will begin rapid upward growth a week or two later.
It takes about five months before the herb will be ready for harvesting. This may seem like a long time to wait but bear in mind that perennials generally require little help to keep coming back once they get started!
To harvest ginger root, it is not necessary to unearth the entire plant. Simply pull up the tubers growing around the tuber that was planted originally and cut the quantity needed.
In India, ginger is applied as a paste to the temples to relieve headache, and consumed when suffering from the common cold. Ginger with lemon and black salt is also used for nausea.
The other herbs for treatment of Cold & runny nose has been covered under this column. They are Garlic and Basil.
A Chinese proverb says “How can a man grow old when he has sage in his garden.”
The ancient Greeks and Romans believed that it imparted wisdom and mental acuity.
Sage, garden sage or common sage is a small, perennial, evergreen shrub, with woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers. Sage grows approximately 2 ft tall and wide, with lavender flowers most common, though they can also be white, pink, or purple. The leaves are oblong, ranging in size up to 6.4 cm long by 2.5 cm wide. Leaves are grey-green, rugose on the upper side, and nearly white underneath due to the many short soft hairs.
Sage is a semi hardy perennial which can live up to five years. Harvest lightly the first year until the plant becomes established. Pick leaves sparingly the first season and replace entire plant after three seasons, because it becomes woody.
Sage is rich in calcium and potassium, and contains vitamins A, C and B-complex and is known for its anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. It is an excellent antioxidant and claimed to be beneficial for circulation, digestion and memory.
For mouth sores, mouth ulcers, or a sore throat try a tea with equal parts chamomile and sage. Also, for sore throats, a sage tea mixed with apple cider vinegar is effective. To make a sage gargle infuse 3 teaspoons fresh leaves in a cup of boiling water for 15 minutes, strain and cool. Gargle three times a day.
Viola odorata is commonly known as Wood Violet, Sweet Violet, English Violet, Common Violet, or Garden Violet. The herb is known as Banafsa, Banafsha or Banaksa in India.
These are hardy perennials that range from 10 – 20 cm in height. It blooms from winter through to spring and can be white, blue, or purple and are considered edible. The seeds require stratification, which means that the seeds are dormant until “woken up” by cold weather. Because of this, it may take a year or more to be able to enjoy the bloom.
The plant requires full sun to partial shade and around 4 such plants can be planted in a sq. ft. The flowers and leaves of viola are made into a syrup and used mainly for respiratory ailments associated with congestion, coughing, and sore throat.
Mature Viola odorata plants will reproduce rapidly and are considered to be invasive. To prevent new sprouts, one should deadhead the blooms at the end of the growing season.
Fenugreek is useful in sore throats where there are enlarged lymph nodes. This herb will help the lymph nodes to drain and is also a key herb in clearing congestion in the head associated with sinus infection. It is recommended as a tea, and also as a gargle to sooth an inflamed sore throat.
This herb for sore throat is used either as a fluid extract or as the essential oil. The dried leaf is used to sooth an irritable dry cough and has been used in the treatment of bronchitis, dry cough and sore throats. Thyme leaf contains an essential oil, which is the responsible for the antispasmodic action of thyme leaf. The main constituent of thyme oil is thymol which is a powerful antiseptic, which helps to treat infection associated with a sore throat.
Planting details on Fenugreek and Thyme has already been covered in the previous articles under ‘Organic Cooking’.
Author: Vaibhav Dugar
Me, I am a Green Warrior and yes you are either with me or against me! On paper I’m a telecommunication engineer but professionally, a farmer. Work takes me setting many-a-farms, tilling many-a-lands and playing with soil which I thoroughly enjoy. I love playing football (avidly), going cycling, watching Formula 1 and writing!
If you need company to watch Formula 1, pit stop at Vaibhav.Dugar [at] EkTitli.org
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