We all know that herbs can add flavor to any dish, but a lot of them also have healing properties that can spice up your health routine. However, deciding which ones to throw into your meals can be tough, just because there are so many different kinds out there. We asked a few of our trusted contributors to recommend some lesser-known herbs that belong in everyone's kitchen.
This powerful herb is derived from the Indian gooseberry and has long been used and loved for its healing abilities — its Sanskrit name actually translates to concepts like "mother" and "immortality," so that should tell you something!
One reason we love amla is its super-high vitamin C content, which will help boost immunity during the winter season and keep your skin hydrated. It also eases inflammation in the body, encourages healthy digestion, and strengthens the hair. You can add a bit of amla powder to sweet and savory recipes to reap its benefits — everything from coffee to oatmeal. We love to put it in dressings in our Organic Meal Delivery program!
Danielle DuBoise and Whitney Tingle, founders of Sakara Life
Dr. Joel Kahn, cardiologist
Yarrow promotes restful sleep, so I'll make sachets for my sister who has issues sleeping to put in her pillow at night. The herb also eases menstrual cramps, so I make it into a tea for my niece who has always dealt with a painful menstrual cycle. And it's a wonderful thing to have around during cold and flu season because of its immune-boosting properties — I'll often bundle up on the couch with a cup of yarrow tea and inhale the steam to clear my congestion.
Candace Burney, private chef
Most people have enjoyed marshmallows at least a few times in their lives — whether roasted over an open flame to make s’mores or placed atop a hot mug of cocoa. While these treats are considered guilty pleasures, marshmallow root — the plant that was once used to make marshmallow candies — is actually really healthy.
It has a long history in traditional medicine and it was supposedly used to treat coughs, sore throats, and congestion as far back as 2,000 years ago. The fibrous extracts from the plant swell up in the body and form a soft, slippery substance that can help break up mucus, reduce inflammation, and kill bacteria naturally.
For respiratory issues like a sore throat, cough, or cold, I recommend 1 to 2 teaspoons of powdered marshmallow taken several times a day in at least 8 ounces of water. And to soothe chapped, dry, or damaged skin, apply a skin ointment or balm containing marshmallow root directly to the affected area.
Dr. Josh Axe, nutritionist
Boswellia, also known as Indian frankincense, inhibits the body's production of NF-Kappa B — a potent inflammatory protein.
Dr. Robin Berzin, founder of Parsley Health
I use the fennel bulb as a vegetable, but the fennel leaves are actually a great herb to cook with as well. Fresh fennel leaves are lovely in Italian, Greek, and French dishes, especially when sprinkled over fish. Fennel is a rich source of fiber, antioxidants, and nitrates to improve blood vessel function.
Dr. Steven Masley, president of Masley Optimal Health Center
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.
Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.