The Hippo


Oct 21, 2019








Groves shares medicinal uses for common culinary herbs. Robin Carter photo.

The Secret Lives of Garden Herbs: Their Medicinal Properties

When: Sunday, April 17 at 2 p.m.
Where: MainStreet BookEnds of Warner, 16 E. Main St., Warner
Tickets: Free

Herb potential
Author and herbalist talks culinary, medicinal herbs

By Allie Ginwala

 You may know that peppermint can help ease nausea, but did you know it may also boost brain power? Or that sage, a tasty addition to a homemade sauce, can soothe hot flashes? On Sunday, April 17, Maria Noël Groves, herbalist and author of Body into Balance: An Herbal Guide to Holistic Self-Care, will show gardeners, cooks and aspiring herbalists how the culinary herbs that they already have in their backyards or spice cabinets carry a whole host of hidden potential.

The title of Groves’ discussion is “The Secret Lives of Garden Herbs: Their Medicinal Properties.”
“When I ask people what herbs they grow, they’ll say just parsley and basil and the culinary herbs and I have to remind them that those are also medicinal herbs,” Groves said. 
Each attendee gets a handout detailing the herbs and remedies discussed, like oregano essential oil or alcohol extracts as an antibacterial for colds, fennel bulbs and fronds for an after-dinner cordial to help digestion, and rosemary to help improve memory.
“When I was first studying herbalism I didn’t have a yard of my own so my choices were really limited. I used ... culinary herbs I could scavenge from friends’ gardens or go to the farmers market and those are the ones I first made medicine with,” Groves said.
Held at MainStreet BookEnds of Warner, her presentation will cover about 10 common herbs and plants one can find in a home garden. She’ll chat with the audience about how they currently use the herbs and plants before introducing their properties and briefly touching on methods for drying herbs and making tinctures. 
“The common herbs are a great place to start because you already know them and how your body responds to them,” she said. “So those are a really nice place to start as opposed to with plants you don’t know.”
While “the fresher the better” is the mantra when it comes to using herbs in cooking or remedies, Groves said you don’t have to grow them yourself to get the full impact. 
“You can certainly buy herbs from other people and especially with this topic we’re talking about really common herbs so they can pick them up at the grocery or farmers market,” she said.  “The fresher the better, but you can buy fresh now year round so there’s not much holding you back.”
After seeing pictures of the different plants and getting a chance to ask questions, the audience can buy a copy of her new book, released last month with Storey Publishing, and have it signed. 
Though The Secret Lives of Garden Herbs isn’t a direct excerpt from Body into Balance, Groves said it pulls from different chapters to form a beginner’s guide to the topic of individual herbs and their uses. The book itself encompasses her work as an herbalist and as a teacher, drawing from the popular Home Herbalist Series and Backyard Medicine workshop she leads at Wintergreen Botanicals. 
“[Each] chapter will focus on a body system and how it should work and how to use herbs, diet and lifestyle to bring it back,” she said. “It’s mainly about herbal medicine but wholesome [living] … and a guide to nutrition and … whole food as well. As herbalists, we don’t only use herbs because that’s a myopic view.”
Those interested in health, working with plant medicine, or gardeners and cooks looking to take things up a notch would enjoy this introduction to herbs, Groves said, “but even if people have some experience they might learn a few new tricks.”

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