Who’s Your Daddy?
The title this month is a little facetious, but it makes reference to questioning what plants are related to one another. This information can be somewhat helpful in the field when identifying herbs, but not so much in the kitchen or the pharmacy. For instance, all mints have square stems and leaves that are opposite one another on their stems. Look closely, you will see that on the common herbs you may see in the grocery or in a gardener’s garden. By way of example I shall write about the Mint, or the Lamiaceae, family, today, this last one of the year.
I sit in a kitchen in the mountains of southern Mexico above a wonderful expatriate city called San Miquel de Allende. And I take from the hills and the market to share.
First, I am thinking of Thyme. Thyme, the many varieties, both pure and hybrid species with various leaf coloration are Mints with properties from their volatile oils, the ingredients we acknowledge the identity from. Thyme leaves, any one, will make for a good water extract, tea, for any desert upper respiratory infection particularly in the winter. Anti-viral in its magnificence, it will help because most of our flus are not bacterial but viral in nature.
Horehound, Marrubium vulgare in scientific jargon, is a mint that might be added to Thyme if a cough accompanies the respiratory problem. Sweeten it though, because this mint, while it has no aroma, has a most bitter flavor. Honey is nice.
Other family members, related plants, to Thyme and Horehound include Catnip, Rosemary, Oregano, Motherwort, Spearmint and Peppermint, of course, and Sage. Any of these could be added to a tea prepared for someone who is feeling “under the weather”: Catnip for fever or if the ill person needs to rest or even if digestion has been compromised because of not feeling well.
Rosemary, can, like Thyme, because it has volatile oils that will help with infection, address bacterial bronchial circumstance.
Most specifically thought of with cooking, Oregano, a most special mint family member, can help if digestion is compromised with the winter sickness.
Motherwort, a lovely mint that mothers the mother, can help to lift the spirits after one is sick for many days, which often happens with winter viral illnesses.
The classics, Spearmint and Peppermint, can assist the sweating process if needed to help curb fever and Sage, the wise mint, will also encourage a natural change in body temperature, an opportunity to not engage with Tylenol which is very suppressive and not helpful to healthy immune response at all. And besides, these well known mints will flavor a tea nicely to be welcomed when we want to shorten the duration of our flus and to make for a pleasant tasting remedy.
Which is what I will attempt for you later in the month. Come by for yoga on a Wednesday morning and you might find some winter tea, freshly brewed, just for you to sip.