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Basics of the Lemon Balm Plant

lemon balm
Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm has a variety of different uses.  This plant has robust, hearty lemon scent with the power to calm and soothe.  Native to the Near East and Mediterranean areas, this stalky herb protects the hillsides as it varies in blooms from white to lilac.  Lemon Balm brought by American colonists from Europe was introduced to them by the Romans and has been known as the “Elixir of Life”. Lemon balm was listed as an official medication in 19th century medical books. Lemon Balm also has uses in bath additives, culinary uses and in teas.  Through Pinch of Comfort’s experience, the calming herb helps stress tension and headaches.  Other healing qualities and attributes include relieving heart disorders, depression, migraines, and regulates the menstrual cycle and restlessness in children. Children and Expecting Mothers should use half of a recipe that includes this herb.

 

Pinch of Comfort enjoys one cultivare of this plant.

Lemon Balm– Melissa officinalis – “Sweet Melissa”

This bushy perennial loves bright sunny locations with moist soil with high humus content.  Well-drained soil is best however it can grow in poor soil and partial shade.  Be cautious as the plant spreads quickly and propagates naturally.  The leaves can be harvest from May to June before it flowers.  Lemon Balm flowers individually in clusters grouped from 3-5.  The serrated edged leaves are dark green and hairy on top and light green on the bottom that is where the oil glands are located.   The riches therapeutic oil can be harvested immediately before the Lemon Balm blooms with flowers.  Be sure to cut back once it flowers to encourage a second crop. Drying this herb is very easy by cutting after the morning dew has dissipated around mid-day and hung indoors.

Lemon Balm has been used for centuries and is valued for its leaves, shoots and pure essential oil. It is an easy plant to grown as long as you understand it’s growing techniques, planting times, and care.  Relax amid the soothing aroma by lightly crushing a handful of leaves and placing it on your skin will also deter those pesky bugs this time of year.

 

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Basics of the Sage Plant

Sage is a garden treasure.  This plant has a sweet, musky scent with the power to ward off garden pests like snails, lice, and cabbage moths.  In Germany, the Muscatel Sage is used in wines and vermouth to flavor the alcohol with its intoxicating properties.  It has been prized as a Chinese treasure to the extent that they would trade the British one case of sage per two cases of tea. Sage also is used in hair rinses, mouthwash, teas, and even for culinary purposes.  Through Pinch of Comfort’s experience, the euphoric herb helps ease depression, anxiety, and stress.  Other healing qualities include relieving menstrual and menopausal symptoms, night sweats, poor digestion and circulation, and fatigue.

 

There are numerous cultivares of this plant.

Purple Sage – Salvia oficinalis – “Purpascens”

A perennial, evergreen shrub with light purple leaves blooms lilac blue flowers early to mid-summer.  Grows 2.5 x 3 feet.

Clary Sage – Salvia sclaria

Hardy biennial shrub with pink stems, grayish green leaves with blooming spikes of pink and white flowers in summer grows to 3 x 1 feet.

Scarlet Sage – Salvia splendens

A perennial with light to dark green leaves that flower with vibrant red blooms in autumn.   Grows 1.5 x 1 feet..

May Night Sage – Salvia sylvestris

A clump forming perennial with green hairy leaves which spike indigo-purple flower heads.  Blooms early to mid-summer.  Grows 2.5 x 1.5 feet.

 

The best places to plant are full sun sheltered from the wind.  Be sure to cut back dead stems in the spring so new shoots emerge.  Sage loves well-drained, lime and humus rich soil.  Be sure to harvest only a few leaves the first year so you allow some foliage on over winter. For the second year, only harvest the young shoots as the sage plant becomes woody with age.  The leaves must be harvested for immediate use throughout summer or in May for drying.  Do not take while pregnant, breast-feeding, epileptic, or before/during alcoholic consumption.

 

Sage has been used for centuries and is valued for its leaves and pure essential oil.  It gets its name from the Latin word “clary” meaning clear eye and is and old English remedy to heal eye problems.  For an eye compress, boil water, cool, add several drops of 100% pure essential sage oil, and soak a cotton cloth.  Relax amidst the soothing aroma on your eyes for 10 minutes while lying down to enjoy the herbs calming, anti-inflammatory healing qualities.

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Basics of the Peppermint Plant Part 2

Peppermint has numerous healing benefits,this is Pinch Of Comfort’s favorite. Historically, the oil has been used to treat many conditions ranging from headaches, menstrual cramps, joint pain, indigestion, and common cold symptoms.  The leaf is used to treat intestinal disorders and gall bladder disease.

 

Numerous conditions including irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal pain and distention, hot flashes, stress, urinary tract infections, mental function, breast tenderness, and bad breath may be relieved with the addition of peppermint to one’s diet.  For headache relief, use a drop of peppermint on both index fingertips and massage the forehead and temple multiple times a day.  This technique is also helpful with cold symptoms and may also be applied around the sinuses to aide in congestion relief.  Use a hot compress of .5 mL of peppermint oil to 2 L of water and apply to the abdomen 20 minutes to relieve abdominal discomfort or a Herbal Heating and Cooling Pad will suffice.  To enhance mental performance, apply a few drops of peppermint oil to a diffuser pad and place in your work area.

 

Peppermint oil can interfere with certain drugs, herbs, and supplements.  Please note to use caution as peppermint is known to cause lowered blood pressure, lowered blood sugar levels, and can interact with pain relievers.  Do not apply the oil on the chest, nose or facial areas of infants or young children.

 

The leaf of the peppermint plant may be used as a tea to relive colic, nausea, vomiting, and decreased appetite.  Adding a few drops of oil to a hot bath is also effective.  You can even try adding a strong peppermint candy to your hot bath!  Bathing with peppermint helps with hiccups, flatulence, and digestive issues.

 

The uses of peppermint oil in aromatherapy massage benefit morning and travel sickness, aching muscles, stomach issues, and diarrhea.  Used in a vaporizer or oil burner, the therapeutic scent eases, pneumonia, sinusitis, bronchitis, asthma, colds, and laryngitis.  The oil is known to be added to mouthwash, toothpaste, lozenges, foot baths, and even insect repellents.

 

The distinctive scent of the menthol in the peppermint plant can improve focus and concentration.  The aroma triggers the part of the brain that is associated with memory called the hippocampus.  It is also known to relieve mental fatigue by re-energizing the mind simply by inhaling the fresh pure essential oilPeppermint clears your thoughts and allows you to deeply breathe freely again.  There is a wealth of B vitamins including riboflavin, folic acid and niacin in peppermint.

 

Peppermint syrup helps to relieve indigestion.  Boil 4 cups of water and add 2 ounces of fresh leaves and cover.  Simmer for ½ hr; cool, then strain the leaves. Continue cooking over low heat to reduce the liquid to one cup.  Next, combine 2 cups of honey, simmer, constantly stirring until the syrup forms.  Add one tablespoon of syrup to one coup of water after eating.  The syrup may then be stored in the fridge for 3-4 weeks.

 

Peppermint is NOT recommended for people with GERD or heartburn as it can worsen symptoms.

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Basics of Peppermint

Basics of the Peppermint Plant

Peppermint is the easiest herb to grow and has numerous healing benefits.
Peppermint has dated back to Biblical times and is also mentioned in the
world’s oldest medical text, the Ebers papyrus. The ancient Greeks used
many varieties of peppermint in healing remedies and religious means. The
Greeks were convinced that by utilizing this herb you could reanimate the
spirit, eliminate hiccups, cleanse the voice, or save someone from the
sting of a sea serpent. Peppermint is cultivated throughout the world
today. It has been prized as an “after dinner mint” since ancient days as
it aides in digestion and sweetens the breath. Peppermint also has uses in
gargles, lotions, bath additives and teas. Through Pinch of Comfort’s
experience, the soothing herb helps reduce inflammation, aching muscles,
and nausea. We have utilized this great plant in our Herbal Heating and
Cooling Pads and Lumbar Pads.

Peppermint is valued for its volatile oil properties, which is extracted
by steaming through distillation of the entire plant and will be colorless
to a pale yellow color. The properties include antiseptic, expectorant,
fights infections and viruses, and fungicide. The leaf has properties
separately which are carminative, anti-spasmodic, clears wind, mild
stimulant, and has a cooling effect on the skin. Other healing qualities
and attributes include relieving headaches, treating hiccups and
indigestion, morning and motion sickness, stress, hot flashes, and is
excellent for treating colds by adding the oil to a humidifier. The plant
is a safe therapy for pregnant woman from the fourth month forward.
Nervous or over excitable people may find it over-stimulating. Do not use
for babies or if you have a heart condition. Avoid use while using
homeopathic remedies.

Of the numerous varieties of this plant, there are six commonly used.
Peppermint – Mentha piperita
This herb is the child of water mint-Mentha aquatica and spearmint-Mentha
spicata and spreads by runners. This creeping perennial is invasive so
plant in an area where it is free to spread or in a container. It prefers
partial shade (will tolerate direct sun) and moist, rich soil. Pinch of
Comfort utilizes this variety in our Herbal Heating and Cooling Pads and
Lumbar Pads.
Spearmint – Mentha spicata
Mid green leaves and purplish flowers bloom mid-summer to early fall and
is used for sauces and to enhance the flavor of vegetables. Grows 1-2
feet high.
Apple-mint – Mentha rotundifolia
Growing taller than spearmint with a distinct flavor of apple.
Pennyroyal – Mentha pulegium
A great variety used for flavoring meats. If you would like to cut back
on mowing the lawn this variety works well as a 6-inch tall, creeping
alternative to be planted in steep areas.
Gingermint – Mentha gentilis variegata
A spreading striped gold leaf born on red tinted stems with lilac flowers
blooming in summer. Will grow 1×3 feet.
Pineapple Mint – Mentha suaveolens variegata
Spreading with crinkled leaves and cream stripes with pink to white
flowers blooming in summer. Will grow 3×3 feet.
The best times to plant are from April to June; be sure to compost yearly
with well-aged manure and water often in the beginning stages. Peppermint
leaves are susceptible to rust (dark pink spots prior to flowering). If
this occurs, cut to the ground. If this reappears destroy and plant new
plants in a different area. Do not compost the diseased plant. To
harvest, cut peppermint before the flowers open.

Peppermint has been used for centuries and is valued for its leaves and
essential oil. It gets its name from the Latin word “mentha” meaning
“mind” or “spirit”. Peppermint has numerous healing benefits, which will
further be discussed in the next post.

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Basics of the Peppermint Plant

Peppermint is the easiest herb to grow and has numerous healing benefits.  Peppermint has dated back to Biblical times and is also mentioned in the world’s oldest medical text, the Ebers papyrus. The ancient Greeks used many varieties of peppermint in healing remedies and religious means. The Greeks were convinced that by utilizing this herb you could reanimate the spirit, eliminate hiccups, cleanse the voice, or save someone from the sting of a sea serpent. Peppermint is cultivated throughout the world today.  It has been prized as an “after dinner mint” since ancient days as it aides in digestion and sweetens the breath. Peppermint also has uses in gargles, lotions, bath additives and teas. Through Pinch of Comfort’s experience, the soothing herb helps reduce inflammation, aching muscles, and nausea.  We have utilized this great plant in our Herbal Heating and Cooling Pads and Lumbar Pads.

 

Peppermint is valued for its volatile oil properties, which is extracted by steaming through distillation of the entire plant and will be colorless to a pale yellow color.  The properties include antiseptic, expectorant, fights infections and viruses, and fungicide.  The leaf has properties separately which are carminative, anti-spasmodic, clears wind, mild stimulant, and has a cooling effect on the skin.  Other healing qualities and attributes include relieving headaches, treating hiccups and indigestion, morning and motion sickness, stress, hot flashes, and is excellent for treating colds by adding the oil to a humidifier.  The plant is a safe therapy for pregnant woman from the fourth month forward. Nervous or over excitable people may find it over-stimulating. Do not use for babies or if you have a heart condition.  Avoid use while using homeopathic remedies.

Of the numerous varieties of this plant, there are six commonly used.

Peppermint – Mentha  piperita

This herb is the child of Water mint-Mentha aquatica and Spearmint-Mentha spicata and spreads by runners.  This creeping perennial is invasive so plant in an area where it is free to spread or in a container.  It prefers partial shade (will tolerate direct sun) and moist, rich soil.  Pinch of Comfort utilizes this variety in our Herbal Heating and Cooling Pads and Lumbar Pads.

Spearmint – Mentha spicata

Mid green leaves and purplish flowers bloom mid-summer to early fall and is used for sauces and to enhance the flavor of vegetables.  Grows 1-2 feet high.

Apple-mint  – Mentha rotundifolia

Growing taller than spearmint with a distinct flavor of apple.

Pennyroyal – Mentha pulegium

A great variety used for flavoring meats.  If you would like to cut back on mowing the lawn this variety works well as a 6-inch tall, creeping alternative to be planted in steep areas.

Gingermint – Mentha gentilis variegata

A spreading striped gold leaf born on red tinted stems with lilac flowers blooming in summer.  Will grow 1×3 feet.

Pineapple Mint – Mentha suaveolens variegata

Spreading with crinkled leaves and cream stripes with pink to white flowers blooming in summer.  Will grow 3×3 feet.

 

The best times to plant are from April to June; be sure to compost yearly with well-aged manure and water often in the beginning stages.  Peppermint leaves are susceptible to rust (dark pink spots prior to flowering).  If this occurs, cut to the ground.  If this reappears destroy and plant new plants in a different area. Do not compost the diseased plant.  To harvest, cut peppermint before the flowers open.

Peppermint has been used for centuries and is valued for its leaves and essential oil.  It gets its name from the Latin word “mentha” meaning “mind” or “spirit”.  Peppermint has numerous healing benefits, which will further be discussed in the next post.

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Basics of the Rosemary Plant

rosemary
heating and cooling pad with rosemary

Rosemary is strengthening and refreshing. This plant has an herbal, invigorating scent with the power to calm and heal. Native to the Mediterranean coast, the leaves contain a high degree of essential oils. In ancient Greece, students placing garlands around their head used it to enhance memory. Brides, in Germany, have been known to carry rosemary as a symbol of love, good luck and fertility. Some of the most common uses for rosemary aromatherapy are massage oils and in baths and can be consumed as a tea or spice. Through Pinch of Comfort’s use in herbal heating and cooling neck, lumbar, and booboo pads, the herb helps as an anti-inflammatory and clarifies the mind. Other healing qualities and attributes include treating depression, headaches, gastric upset, circulation, and sore throats.

There is one species of this plant.
Rosemary – Officinalis
This hardy evergreen shrub of upright habitat is grown for it’s pinkish-purple-sky blue and white flowers. The linear leaves vary from dark green to silver-green with velvety white undersides. First blooming mid-spring to early summer, it may bloom again in autumn. It can grow up to 5 x 5 feet maturing in 3-5 years. The plant detests heavy clay soil so plant in well-drained, porous or sandy soil in full sun. The best times to plant are from April to June; be sure to work bone meal into the plant hole. Pest and disease seldom attack rosemary, but the roots are liable to rot in soggy clay. To keep compact and full of young growth, trim when the flowers fade in late spring. Be sure to position rosemary where you can brush up against it to smell it’s amazing aroma. Other varieties of rosemary include Fastigiatus and Miss Jessup’s Upright which are not as frost hardy.

External uses include massaging into the scalp to help dandruff, premature baldness and to stimulate hair follicles. Included in massage oils, rosemary relieves muscle aches and pains especially on cold limbs. Add a few drops of rosemary oil to water and use as a gargle to treat bad breath. Do not use or swallow if you are pregnant or suffer from epilepsy. For children who feel cold, steep a pint of rosemary tea and add it to bath water. Use rosemary for cold clammy headaches as lavender works best for hot headaches.

Apart from its healing benefits, rosemary is also used as a culinary herb. Meat can be wrapped in crushed rosemary leaves to hinder spoiling and add flavor. Rosemary infused vinegar mixed with olive oil can be used as a marinade or dressing. Adding rosemary to stews, meats, vegetables, poultry, and roasts not only accelerates flavor but makes these dishes easily digestible.

Rosemary has been used for many centuries and is valued for its high content of essential oil. It gets its name from the Latin word “marinus” meaning near the sea. It is an easy plant to grown as long as you understand it’s growing techniques, planting times, and care. The herb is warming and stimulating and can be used in a bath or as a massage for muscle aches and pains.

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Basics of the Lavender Plant

Lavender is an all around blessing.  This plant has a sweet, soothing scent with the power to calm and heal.  Native to the Northern Mediterranean area, this magnificent herb transforms the hillsides as it blooms to a pale bluish-purple.  Lavender is cultivated throughout the world today.  It has been prized as a perfume since ancient days. Lavender also has uses in bath additives and teas from the flowers or the pure essential oils.  Some of the most common uses for aromatherapy are lavender eye pillows and massage therapy.  Through Pinch of Comfort’s experience, the calming herb helps reduce stress and alleviate anger.  Other healing qualities and attributes include relieving tension, insomnia, aiding in digestion, healing burns, and soothing coughs.

 

We enjoy four main cultivares of this plant.

LavenderLavendula

Hardy to half-hardy aromatic, evergreen shrubs grown mainly for their highly scented flowers which are attractive to bees and butterflies.  Both the leaves and flower heads may be dried and used in arrangements or potpourri.  This grows best in moderately fertile soil in full sun.

Lavender Augustifolia “Hidcote”

Hardy shrubs of compact habitat with thin blue-green leaves and intense violet-blue flowers that blooms mid to late summer and grows to 2 x 1.5 feet.

Lavender Intermedia “Grappenhall”

A hardy, clump-forming shrub with aromatic, hairy, blue-green leaves.  Spikes of pale purple flowers are produced in the summer and the plant grows to 3 x 5 feet.

Lavender Stoechas “French Lavender”

A hardy to frost hardy shrub of compact habitat with gray-green leaves over which are carried deep purple flower heads on short stems.  Blooms late spring to summer.  L.s.f leucantha has white flowers and grows 2 x 2 feet.

 

The best times to plant are from April to June; be sure to compost early spring and plant in full sun.  Lavender loves well-drained, loosened soil and does not tolerate weeds or water build-up.  Applying a one-inch layer of stone on top of the soil helps to alleviate this issue.  Pests or disease seldom affect lavender, but root rot may occur if the soil is too moist.  To improve air circulation, remove dead growth and stems in early to mid-spring and shorten the previous year’s stems to 2-4” from base to rejuvenate.  Cutting into old wood may cause the plant to die.  Do not crowd the herb with other plants, as the foliage will die back in shaded gardens.

 

Lavender has been used for centuries and is valued for its flowers and pure essential oil.  It gets its name from the Latin word “lavare” meaning to wash and “livendulo” meaning bluish.  It is an easy plant to grown as long as you understand it’s growing techniques, planting times, and care.  Relaxing amidst the soothing aroma is one of the herbs many healing qualities and visual enjoyment.