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Updated: September 10, 2009 20:41 IST

Know your herbs

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Namita Jain
Namita Jain

Herbs can help remedy a range of ailments from cold to rheumatism. They also lend a special flavour and aroma to food.

Herbs are leaves of aromatic plants, rich in nutrients and minerals. They are also used for medicinal purposes and sold over-the-counter as remedies for colds, flu, coughs, throat infections, rheumatic ailments and pain.

Adding flavour to food

Herbs are the perfect way to add flavour to food. Often used as seasonings, they can reduce reliance on salt. Use them to give subtle or strong accents to soups, sauces, raitas, stews, casseroles, vegetables and cereals.

Aroma is a good indicator of quality in both fresh and dried herbs. Crumbling a few leaves can test the scent of herbs. A weak or stale aroma indicates old, less potent herbs.


Key nutrients: vitamin A and C, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium.


Basil helps treat headaches, dizziness, vertigo, stomach cramps, nausea and constipation. Basil oil is used to treat insect bites and minor cuts.

Did you know?

Basil has wonderful medicinal properties. An infusion of the leaves is a quick home remedy for bronchitis and colds.


Key nutrients: calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin A, B, C and E.


Bay leaves are used to treat migraines, stress and anxiety. They also improve digestion and help detoxify the system.

Interesting fact

Bay leaf oil is antibacterial. To repel household pests naturally, spread some crushed leaves in the kitchen cupboards.


Key nutrients: vitamin A, B and C, iron, calcium, zinc


Coriander leaves are diuretic, and help detoxify the system. They also help improve quality of blood, lower cholesterol levels and improve the eyesight.


Key nutrients: Calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin A, C and E.


Mint is used as a treatment for indigestion, colic, heartburn and flatulence. It also can stimulate the appetite and cure nausea and headaches. Peppermint tea can help soothe a dry throat.

Interesting fact

Mint oil is used in throat lozenges and ointments for headaches.

Mint is also used to flavor mouthwash and toothpaste.


Key nutrients: calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium vitamin A, C and E


Dill is used to treat colic, flatulence and indigestion. It is an effective appetite stimulant and helps stimulate milk in nursing mothers.


Key nutrients: vitamin C, chlorophyll, calcium, sodium, and magnesium, iron.


Parsley improves digestion, blood quality and lowers blood pressure. It is also a treatment for anemia.


Key nutrients: calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, manganese vitamin A and C.


Oregano has powerful antioxidant and anticancer properties. It aids digestion, helps to get rid of intestinal parasites, treats nausea and diarrhea.

Note: If you are ill or under medication, consult your doctor for your nutritional requirements.

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