Botanical herbs are nature’s super-heroes
We all need sun, water and nourishing food to live. But to thrive and flourish – herbs are it: nature’s key to a super-charged life. We have chosen these herbs, in particular, for their immune-boosting, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, healing and restorative properties. Also because in these combinations they simply taste delicious.
Needless to say, all our herbs, listed below, are grown without the faintest whiff of anything chemical. They are either certified organic or hand-grown by us on Anglesey.
Long renowned for supporting the liver and digestion, and for lowering blood sugar, artichoke is also a great immune stimulant and lymphatic tonic. It is also reputed to be a great cell-protector, and is one of those ‘watch this space’ herbs in terms of seriously exciting new research, which is why we put it in Bliss.
An important foundation herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine, astragalus is considered a super-charged stimulator of vital energy, or qi. It has long been prized as an adrenal pep and heart-strengthener, and is one of those multi-dimensional adaptogenic herbs that can stimulate your immune-system to greater power, helping you to fight your corner on a number of different levels. In Replenish.
A delicious, whimsical combination of, well, you guessed it, basil and mint. We could probably have used either basil or mint, but this somehow tastes better and it’s always nice to be different. It is also anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibacterial and good for the digestion. And it grows like a dynamo in our garden on Anglesey, so we thought we’d put it to good use, in Power.
Aka the inspiration for Swiss inventor, George de Mestral’s Velcro. Burdock is also one of nature’s antibiotics, great at removing toxins from the blood, and a powerful free-radical scavenger, used in root form to improve circulation, treat digestive disorders, arthritis and skin conditions. It can also have an aphrodisiac, and mildly laxative effective. It has a lovely grounding, earthy flavour that can taste almost smoky. In Power and Thrive.
A party favourite, and no mistake. Not only does this memory-enhancing, anti-stress, anti-depressant flower taste delicious, in Bliss, it also imparts a deep, inky-blue colour when added to water. But better still: add a twist of lemon and watch the blue drink turn slowly pink. What’s not to like?
There is so much written about cacao, and with good reason: simply, it gives you your chocolate fix with zero guilt, because it is all taste and goodness and no junky processed nonsense. A delicious hub of antioxidants, flavonoids and free radical scavengers, packed with vital minerals such as magnesium and potassium; great for heart-health, and – you know this bit already – massively mood-boosting. Chocoholics rejoice: nirvana is here, and it’s called Thrive.
A symbol of joy and rejuvenation in many cultures around the world, it is now prized for its valuable antiseptic and healing properties. John Gerard, in his 1597 ‘Herbal’, cites Calendula (or Marigold, as it is also known), as ‘the comforter of the heart and spirits.’ It imparts a taste of warm honey and appears in both Power and Love.
Routinely chewed in India as an after-dinner treat, to freshen the breath and improve digestion, there’s science behind it, too: cardamon is a potent bacteria-fighter, enhancing digestive function, and is great at warding off infections and providing good anti-oxidant firepower, too. Particularly useful for improving respiratory tract issues, it is also said to have anti-cancer properties, is a useful diuretic and lowerer of blood pressure. All that, in a little green pod. In Renew.
Considered the king of medicinal herbs, brought to Europe by Christopher Columbus. It’s the capsaicin you have to thank for this botanical’s particular super-power. Rich in minerals and vitamins, it is thought to lower blood pressure, boost metabolism, aid digestion and defend against infections and cancer. Taken in combination with turmeric, it is a potent secret weapon against inflammation. In Renew.
Worshipped over 2000 years ago by the ancient Egyptians who dedicated it to the sun, this familiar immune-boosting herb is profoundly calming and soothing. It is also prized for being antiseptic, anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory, and has mildly pain-relieving characteristics (and has long been the go-to remedy to pacify fractious babies). Found in Love.
Used sparingly, this tiny, fiery fighter can bring pain-relief and pack a powerful antioxidant punch. Containing carotenoids and, like cayenne, the active alkaloid compound, capsaicin, the chilli pepper is also a vitamin- and mineral-rich microcosm of goodness, with added anti-bacterial and anti-diabetic powers. In Renew.
With a higher antioxidant quota than the more widely-used garlic and oregano, cinnamon has long been prized for its anti-inflammatory properties. It is considered a powerful protector against heart disease and diabetes, by actively lowering blood sugar levels, and is also thought to have brain-protective properties. The subject of much anti-cancer research. In Thrive.
Who would have thought it? Those sticky weeds children love to throw at each other to watch them cling, or cleave, are also a cure for weariness (according to 1st Century physician, Dioscorides), and a useful anti-inflammatory, lymph-cleansing antioxidant. According to Culpeper’s Complete Herbal, cleavers offer a good remedy in the spring, to fit the body ‘for that change of season that is coming.’ Found in Flow.
Ever noticed the way you can preserve oranges by sticking cloves in them at Christmas? There’s a reason for that! These little buds have been used for centuries to help preserve foods: they are hugely anti-bacterial and anti-microbial. Nutrient-dense, they are also considered a small-but-mighty weapon against cancer. Valued also for their bone- and liver-health properties, cloves regulate blood sugar and are crammed with antioxidantants. In Thrive.
Said to have been championed by Chiron, an ancient Greek Centaur, this beautiful flower was also praised by the 12th Century Abbess, Hildegard of Bingen for its healing value. Highly prized for its anti-inflammatory properties, it is also used to soothe anxiety and as a digestive and antibacterial tonic and liver-stimulant. Works in perfect harmony with our butterfly pea flower in Bliss.
This mineral-rich antioxidant is considered a great helper to lower both blood sugar and blood pressure. Calming and fragrant, it is also powerfully antibacterial – one of the reasons why, like cloves, it is a kitchen staple for preserving foods. It is also widely used for treating osteoporosis, arthritis and rheumatism, and is considered an excellent digestive aid. In Renew.
Used in root form, dandelion is said to have powerful cleansing and toning properties, invigorating both body and spirits. It is thought to reduce cholesterol, blood-pressure and -sugar; to ease digestion, support bone and liver health, and be a potent antibacterial. Its super-charged immune-boosting capacity is currently being researched for its anti-cancer potential. Matched with burdock root, it is also delightfully reminiscent of the famous old favourite, minus the bad stuff. In Power.
Now a modern favourite in most people’s kitchen cupboards, Echinacea stimulates the immune system, so helping the body to fight off infection. Used in leaf form, as we do in Power, it is excellent for sore throats and all-round strengthening. A perfect pep at the first sign of any impending illness.
Known as ‘the complete medicine chest’ of the botanical world (hence its name: ‘elder’, as it is said to promote long life). It can reduce inflammation and congestion, speed healing, and even lower the chance of hay fever. An old favourite as a cordial, we present it in a no-nasties version in Love.
One of the ancient Saxon ‘9 sacred herbs’, fennel seeds steal the prize when it comes to multi-tasking. They are famed for being antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-depressant and anti-cancer, and widely used to decrease inflammation and oxidative stress; to improve stomach and digestive issues; to ease the transitional processes of menopause; to improve memory, liver and kidney function, bone density, collagen and respiration. All that in a tiny seed! In Thrive.
There used to be a phrase in common usage - to ‘ginger something up’ - meaning to give it a bit of a boost. Small wonder, as ginger is one of the great go-to roots of the botanical kingdom: it lowers blood sugar, acts against nausea, colds and flu, and has a powerful anti-pain and anti-inflammatory character. It also improves cardiovascular health, digestion and brain function, is antibacterial and said to have potent anti-cancer properties. In Replenish.
Also known as ‘the fossil tree’, as it is one of the oldest tree spices on the planet. And our very special gingko trees at Bodorgan have definitely seen a lot of life: by their size, I’d say they’re over 200 years old. One of them was planted right outside the old Head Gardener’s office: he clearly knew what he was about, as gingko is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, considered a great protector against arthritis, IBS, cancer, heart disease, stroke, depression and headaches. It is also thought to enhance brain-function and sexual potency. Now what was going on in those potting sheds, all those years ago..? In Flourish.
Considered so powerful a defender against toxins, holy basil is planted around the Taj Mahal to protect the marble from environmental damage. Revered in India as a Goddess incarnate, it is used as a defence against colds, to reduce blood pressure and lower stress, and is also thought to ward off the harmful effects of negative energy. Its powerful anti-microbial action adds to its overall character of being a wonderfully clarifying and revitalising adaptogen. In Flourish.
Also known as the ‘Herb of Grace’, and prized as a sacred plant by the Romans and ancient Persian mystics, the Magi. Widely used now to alleviate nervous exhaustion and restore the liver, it is a calming and mood-lifting herb which gives a lovely lemony lift to Love and Flow.
Also known as ‘the nectar of kings’, or the linden flower, it was widely used by doctors during WWII as a sedative and anti-depressant, and to help with stress and raise the spirits. A useful expectorant and protector against respiratory ailments, lime flower is also prized as a carminative herb, helpful in soothing the digestive system. As with so many botanicals, the lime flower’s properties match its appearance: fresh, sweet-scented and heart-gladdening. In Flourish.
The benefits of this potent adaptogen have been widely documented for many thousands of years. So valuable and in-demand in Britain in the 14th Century, it even had a tax put on it to help with the repairing of London Bridge. Considered almost as a ‘cure-all’ throughout history, it has been relied on as a respiratory cleanser, liver- and kidney-strengthener, stomach-settler, anti-carcinogenic, mood-enhancer. It is also known to have potent anti-viral and anti-microbial properties, and is a natural antacid. In Replenish.
A key ingredient in many cough remedies, marshmallow is profoundly soothing to the mucous membranes, helping to make it a great ally against coughs and colds. It is also valued for its ability to help repair the gut lining and improve digestion; for its anti-pain and diuretic action; its antioxidant powers; and its contributions to heart health. In Replenish.
Stimulating to the circulation, soothing to the skin, lowering to blood pressure, an all-round super-charged herb that – poor thing! – ought really not to be called a ‘weed’, as it is such a brilliant player in the super-powered botanical team. It’s even said to prevent scurvy… Found in Flow.
Just think of the uses of mint! Everything from toothpaste to tea, chewing gum to chocolate – and with good reason. It is most widely used as an anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and digestive tonic, but is also deeply calming to the body while being stimulating to the mind. Perfect, in fact, for Flow.
Where to begin? ‘A rose is a rose.’ What a cop out! It is also an energy-stimulant, aphrodisiac, tonic, anti-depressant, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and powerful anti-inflammatory. The list goes on... In the 1st Century, Pliny the Elder named over 32 different medicinal uses for it. And the 17th Century radical genius of the herbal world, Nicholas Culpeper, described rose as ‘cooling and cordial, quickening the weak and faint spirits.’ Tastes as lovely as it looks. In Love.
Long overlooked as just another handy culinary herb, rosemary is in the spotlight again for its vast array of potent properties. Long valued as a memory enhancer, it protects against oxidative stress in the brain; it is also considered a mighty anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and anti-microbial, supporting the liver, digestive system, lungs and joints. It is even thought to improve hair quality. Most likely to be found: in your garden already, so snip snip! In Flourish.
Another of those ‘watch this space’ herbs, which we’re lucky enough to be able to grow on Anglesey, owing to our benign micro-climate. Two hundred times sweeter than sugar, this no-calorie herb, which we use in Bliss, is suitable for diabetics, lowers blood pressure and improves digestion. Seriously. You would still bother with sugar? Ever?
Immune boosting, antibiotic, gut-healing, cooling, anti-microbial digestive tonic. Shot to fame by foodies such as the genius Yotam Ottolenghi over recent years, like many culinary herbs, it packs a power far beyond its weight. It was also used by the Victorians to make a substitute for lemonade, when lemons were a rarity (unless you had a hot-house). Gives a citrusy lift to Power.
The Greek, ‘thymon’, meaning ‘courage’ explains many of thyme’s traditional properties. Healing, antibiotic, anti-microbial and anti-parasitic, it was also cited as a top hang-over cure by Linnaeus, the 18th Century Swedish botanist. Often found in modern cough remedies, and now in Flow, it is a wonderfully clearing and strengthening herb.
Another botanical ingredient now firmly on the list of go-to super-charged herbal helpers. A powerful anti-inflammatory, the main active ingredient, curcumin, protects against free radical damage on a molecular level. The subject of intensive study currently in relation to cancer therapies, it is also causing excitement for its anti-alzheimers possibilities. Valued already as a major anti-arthritis and anti-depression weapon, turmeric is happily here to stay. More, please. In Renew.
P.S What is vegetable glycerine?
Technically it is a carbohydrate, low in calories. It has a low GI, making it a good option for diabetics wanting to avoid sugar but looking for something slightly sweet-tasting. Vegetable glycerine is widely used in food and cosmetics. Ours comes from pure oil-seed rape, which we chose because it has the fewest air-miles (ours comes from the UK and Europe), is vegan, non GM, non-allergenic and tastes good.