For many people, herbs may conjure a mental image of an aisle at the grocery store and tiny bottles filled with dried flakes labeled “Rosemary,” “Oregano” and “Thyme.”
But this is only one way to experience herbs. Certainly herbs can enhance your cooking, but they offer much more. “Herbs provide a lot of hope,” says Andrea Garcia, Fort Worth dietician and herbalist. “They may not be able to fix everything, but they can ease things, make things better.”
Garcia will guide students through explorations of herbs in several upcoming workshops. Focusing on a different herb each month, the course will teach participants how to grow, harvest, preserve, consume and utilize your fresh herbs at home for health* and enjoyment
Garcia’s August workshop will focus on roses. While not an herb likely to be found on most supermarket shelves, roses have been used for centuries in foods, teas, tinctures and skin care products. Roses are considered one of the “cooling herbs” that can reduce inflammation and soothe irritated tissues–making the flower an ideal herb for our long, hot August.
Even if you can’t attend one of Garcia’s workshops, she encourages people to explore herbs for themselves. “One way to start is with growing herbs at home,” she says.
She recommends lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) as a great herb for beginners. “It’s a really friendly little herb–it smells so good and you can grow it easily from seed,” she says. “Start it in a flower pot, because it can spread once it’s established. Lemon balm is really lovely and uplifting–and it’s good for digestion**.”
Garcia’s love of herbs is infectious, and she looks forward to sharing her passion with students.
“There’s something about working with plants that really joyful,” says Garcia. “Herbs open up possibilities to making food more interesting and making remedies for yourself and family and friends. And you can never know everything about herbs. There are so many plants out there that herbs can be a life long love.”
* Information about herbs is intended for educational purposes only and not meant to take the place of medical advice. Talk to your physician before consuming large quantities of herbs, especially if you are pregnant, have medical conditions or are taking any medications. Back to text.
** Individuals wih hypothyroidism or under-active thyroid should avoid ingesting lemon balm in large quantities. Back to text.