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Unusual Herbs & How to Use Them

written by: Finn Orfano • edited by: Donna Cosmato • updated: 7/1/2011

There are many unusual herbs and their health benefits, and a multitude of the herbs also have fascinating names and can be used in dietary ways as well.

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    Health Benefits, Unusual Names, and Additional Uses

    It is fascinating to learn about the unusual herbs and their health benefits, some of them rare herbs, with their varied uses. Growing herbs is not always easy, but it is well worth the effort in the benefits derived when you harvest them.

    As interesting as the herbs themselves are, their names are often very unusual as well.

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    Toothache Plant

    The Toothache Plant is exactly that: the flower heads and leaves contain a natural analgesic that can be used to numb the gums and also contains a natural antifungal and antibacterial compound. The plant is an annual groundcover with young leaves that are edible with a peppery taste and can be added to salads..

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    Stinging Nettle

    Stinging Nettle has been used for hundreds of years for arthritis, gout, anemia, eczema, hay fever, urinary tract infections, and painful muscles and joints. Its leaves are heart-shaped, but one has to be careful because the plant's underside is covered with stiff hairs that sting when touched.

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    Lemon Bee Balm

    Lemon Bee Balm is an annual wildflower that is easy to grow. It has very fragrant flowers in purple to pink. The sweet leaves make lemon teas which are known to be calming. Its dried seed heads are used in floral arrangements. The plant itself attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.

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    Laceflower, also known as Bishop's Weed and Lady's Lace, has white lacy flowers that are beautiful in fresh cut bouquets. It was also used by the Egyptians as a skin disease treatment.

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    The Starflower, also known as Borage, is an annual which originated in Syria but is often used in Italy as a ravioli filling. The leaves are cucumber scented and are cooling and mineral-rich so are used to flavor dips, drinks, and salt-free dishes. The flowers have a honey-like taste and are used in salads and cakes.

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    Fireweed blooms in late summer in dense clusters and is sown in the early spring or fall. The young shoots are high in Vitamins A and C and therefore are considered a nutritious vegetable. The leaves have a taste similar to black tea and are used to relieve stomachaches.

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    We know Catnip as being in cat toys, but it has also been cultivated for medical purposes for centuries to treat colds, coughs, reduce fevers, fight nausea, calm upset stomachs, and soothe headaches.

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    The above are just some of the unusual herbs and their health benefits, including not only their medicinal uses but also their nutrients, vitamins, and additional uses in our diets. Herbs have been used for medicine going back to ancient times, and it is still realized that they have qualities that cannot be explained but can be used to make a person feel better and be healthier.

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