On top of being really easy to grow, herbs are really really good for you. Cilantro,for example, is a powerful, natural chelation agent. Meaning, it helps remeove heavy metals (and other toxic agents) from the body. On top of that, the oils in cilantro aid our digestive system in its production of digestive enzymes. They also protect against bacterial infections such as salmonella, and increase insulin secretion while lowering blood sugar. The cineole and linoleic acid in cilantro have anti-rheumatic and anti-arthritic properties.

*It’s important to note, I’m speaking only in terms of consuming fresh, dehydrated, or frozen herbs as tasty and healthy additions to your daily foods. I am not referring to consuming herbs in supplement form, or consuming the harvested essential oils of herbs. Although getting herb benefits in supplements or essential oils is certainly an option, I am unfamiliar with dosage and would recommend you work with your healthcare provider or nutritionist if you wish to supplement with herbs in any concentrated form.
The unique array of active constituents called flavonoids found in basil provide protection at the cellular level. Orientin and vicenin (two water-soluble flavonoids) protect cell structures as well as chromosomes from radiation and oxygen based damage. Essential oil of basil, obtained from its leaves, has demonstrated the ability to inhibit several species of pathogenic bacteria that have become resistant to commonly used antibiotic drugs. In a study published in the July 2003 issue of the Journal of Microbiology Methods, essential oil of basil was even found to inhibit strains of bacteria from the genera Staphylococcus, Enterococcus and Pseudomonas, all of which are not only widespread, but now pose serious treatment difficulties because they have developed a high level of resistance to treatment with antibiotic drugs. (September 8, 2003)
Dill’s unique health benefits come from two types of healing components: monoterpenes, (carvone, limonene, and anethofuran) and flavonoids, (kaempferol and vicenin). Monoterpenes in dill activate secretion of an enzyme called glutathione-S-transferase (the radical glutathione is an effective anti oxidant) which is very effective in neutralizing carcinogens, particularly Cyano- and Benzo- derivatives and free radicals. The other anti oxidants in essential oils of dill also contribute to this.

Rich in potassium and full of vitamins, Tarragon can also be a star player in your healthy diet. Traditionally used in French cooking, Tarragon is unique and delicious, and not a shabby free radical scavenger. The major essential oils in Tarragon are estragole, cineol, ocimene and phellandrene. It is beneficial in reducing symptoms of arthritis because it contains elements that assist in keeping blood platelets and other compounds from adhering and accumulating. It also appears to be beneficial to overall digestive health and especially handy for keeping female organs running smoothly. *Though, as with any herb, check with healthcare provider before consuming if you are pregnant or nursing.


Additional resources:

Houdret, J. and Farrow, J. (2006). The Practical Guide to Using Herbs. London: Anness Publishing Ltd.

Duke, J. A. (2002). Handbook of Medicinal Herbs, Second Edition. Boca Raton: CRC Press LLC