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Part 2: endless uses for your home-grown herbs

basil mask

Now that your green thumb is fully flexed, how are you going to make use of all those blooming beauties? Aforementioned, your lush mint is begging to be muddled into a mojito for a porch party, and everyone knows that basil brings life to a spaghetti sauce and steals center stage in a caprese salad. But did you know your herbs can go beyond the kitchen and brighten other parts of your life? Think natural remedies like sore throat soothers and stress reducers, acne relief, and breath freshener. The natural powers of these little leaves will surprise you. Read below for just a few of the infinite ways your new plants will better your mind, body, and home.

Mint grows like weeds – you’ll have plenty for its vast and various uses. Besides flavoring meats and drinks, its unique cooling and cleansing characteristic (thanks, menthol) means you can chew on a sprig as a breath freshener (really). Yet, the best way to take advantage of mint’s wondrous vigor is to infuse it into your morning wake-up routine. Make this concentrate and enjoy it in quite a few ways: steep a few handfuls of fresh mint in a pint or two of hot water for about ten minutes, strain through a sieve, then let cool and chill. Add ¼ to ½ cup to your bath for a tingly wash, use it as a final rinse after shampooing, a mouthwash (maybe better than chewing on leaves, right?), or a foot soak before a pedicure. Mint is delectable with veggies and salads, but it can also lift and pamper you with these quick invigorators!

Lo and behold, thyme has one of the highest antioxidant levels among herbs, as well as potassium, iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C, making it a truly underutilized resource for health and beauty. Recent studies have provided the proof: thyme reaps similar or better results than benzoyl peroxide. Ready to make a toner and mask for clear skin straight from nature? Blend or process 1tbsp fresh thyme leaves, 1 tbsp sour cream, ½ tsp lemon juice, and 1 tsp raw honey. Apply to a clean face, leave on for 15 minutes, and rinse well. Use this mask once a week. Another concoction is made by mixing 1 tbsp thyme with 3-4 tbsp of witch hazel, letting it steep for at least 20 minutes, then straining. Store it in a small jar and use it as a toner once a day. Apply these antioxidant-laden products as components to your anti-blemish regimen! And maybe even do it while your dinner is getting delicious in a thyme-infused marinade. Or you can sip thyme tea in the morning instead of coffee to boost spirits and sooth your stomach. How’s that for resourcefulness?

Oh, basil. So much more than an Italian kitchen staple. The herb is a natural anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants. Like thyme, it has healing powers. Its antiseptic properties help with blemishes, but also soothe skin, increase circulation, and anti-age your face. Here’s a simple wash/mask: muddle 20-30 basil leaves to make a paste. Mix this with distilled water and use it as a face wash every other day, leaving on for 3 minutes before rinsing. You can combine the paste with organic yogurt for a 20-minute mask as well. Need some more healing? Boil basil with water for a facial steam to cure headaches, gargle a few crushed leaves and water for a sore throat, or throw some in tea to calm a cough and sharpen your mind. You can also use the paste to relieve insect bites! Basil is truly a natural all-in-one remedy.

Rosemary – beautiful, curative, with an assertive pine-like fragrance that’s pure aromatherapy. The herb contains phyto-chemical compounds that are known to promote health and prevent disease. Consuming the herb is excellent for obtaining several minerals, especially iron and folic acid, but its home applications are worth taking advantage of. Make a natural air freshener by combining a handful of leaves with 1 sliced lemon or orange and a splash of vanilla extract in a pot of simmering water. Be sure to watch the water levels as your house fills up with a refreshing scent that lasts for days. For more home improvement, make a natural disinfectant spray. Steep a few sprigs of rosemary in a gallon of hot water and baking soda for ten minutes. Strain, cool, and store in a spray bottle. You can use this spray on just about anything that needs a fragrant disinfecting, from counter tops to floors, and everything in between. You can also display rosemary as a wreath, garnish, or a dinner plate decoration. Its beauty and fragrance will brighten and enliven your home.

Did you know your herbs could reach such heights of usefulness? I want to know how your plants are thriving and how you’re applying these gorgeous herbs to your eco-friendly life! Share below!

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