After several bad reactions to prescription medications, Gail Henderson of Lebanon, Maine decided to try her hand at herbal remedies. To her surprise, they really helped. That was 30 years ago, and Gail has been an avid herbalist ever since – she and her son even started a company called Big Tree Herb Farm. “I find it all so fascinating and enjoyable,” she said. “There is so much to learn about each herb individually, and the variety of herbs out there — not only the ones we have here in the United States but other cultures as well, like Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda Medicine.”
We thought it would be fun to ask her what some of her favorite herbs are. Here’s what she had to say.
What are your top 5 favorite herbs for health benefits and remedies?*
- Nettle: One of the herbalists that I follow says that when in doubt, choose Nettle because it is good for everything, and I agree! Nettle is alkalizing, astringent, diuretic, and high in chlorophyll and minerals. It is also blood purifying and a thyroid balancer. It can help with arthritis, bloating, bladder infections, asthma, inflammatory skin conditions, achy bones and joints. It also has antihistamine properties that help with allergies and hay fever. And it is also a tonic for PMS, and menopause symptoms.
- Chamomile is a gentle herb that you can even give to children. It is a gentle but highly effective herb for indigestion, colic, muscle spasms, tension, insomnia and infection. It is also useful for arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. Chamomile offers excellent support for nervous and digestive systems. It makes an excellent, caffeine-free, mild tea that can be sipped before bed or put into the bath for soothing stress and restlessness in adults and children. You can use it on your skin, in your bath, as an eye pack or wash, gargle for sore throat, or topically for arthritis.
- Tulsi Basil is a relatively new herb for me. It makes a delightful tea, and supports immunity and eases stress. It is also anti-viral, antibacterial and antiseptic. Rub the leaves on skin to relieve itching and inflammation of insect bites. Tulsi also is a Digestive stimulant, controls diarrhea and vomiting. You can combine it with honey to reduce coughs. Tulsi also strengthens the central nervous system and adrenal glands.
- Ginger is a very powerful anti-inflammatory, and also tastes delicious! Excellent in tea and food. Ginger is also anti-viral, anti-bacterial, warming and a decongestant. It is helpful for nausea, motion sickness and other digestive issues, improves circulation and reduces inflammation. It’s helpful for respiratory congestion, colds, flu, and sore throat. Also beneficial for PMS symptoms and menstrual cramps.
- Garlic is an excellent antibiotic and anti-viral, and can be eaten raw or cooked with food. Garlic is most commonly used for conditions related to the heart and blood system. These conditions include high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood and hardening of the arteries. Garlic oil is great for ear aches and pain.
What are the easiest herbs to grow?
“The five easiest herbs to grow in poor soil, like our rocky, acidic Lebanon, Maine soil, are Chives, Oregano, Tulsi Basil, Catnip, and Bee Balm. They demand very little to be happy and healthy.”
What are your favorite herbs for scent?
“I love the rich smells of all herbs, but my five favorites are Lemon Balm (my most favorite!), Rosemary, Tulsi Basil, Sage, and Thyme. Yum!”
“You will notice that Tulsi Basil is on all three lists,” said Gail. “It is such a delightful herb in so many ways. We put it in our herbal tea every day since it is such a great tonic herb for overall health and well-being. We also make an anti-inflammatory salve that is used for skin irritations, burns, wounds, and inflamed joints, stress and pain relief, and as a moisturizer. You can also rub it on the soles of your feet for restful sleep! I love that herb.”
Reach Out to Gail, and See Her at Our Winter Farmers’ Markets
If you would be curious to speak with Gail about herbs, visit her website at www.bigtreeherbfarm.com, She sells wonderful salves, oils, fresh and dried herbs, and herbal tinctures. She also said you can feel free to call her at 207-251-1281 or email her. Additionally, she often has a booth at our Winter Farmers’ Markets, where you can meet her in person and shop her wonderful wares.
Find Fresh Herbs Here at Rolling Green Nursery
We sell a wide selection of herbs throughout the growing season, and they make excellent additions to the garden or containers. We will have more and more in stock as the temps get warmer too. We hope you enjoy!
*Please note: We are not licensed medical professionals, and this blog should not be taken as medical advice or instruction. Seek your doctor’s advice first before taking any medication or treatment to be sure it is safe for you.