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Mint Family Anti-Inflammatories.

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Here come the YAMFAIs!

As with the group of simple rose family astringents, a lot of the mint family (Lamiaceae) plants can be used interchangeably.

So if somebody tells you that you can use oregano (Origanum sp.) for something -- and you're all out, try marjoram (Origanum majorana), basil (Ocimum basilicum) thyme (Thymus sp.), savory (Satureja sp.), hyssop (Hyssopus sp.), desert hyssop (Hyptis sp.) or monarda (Monarda sp.) instead.
If you're told that you need sage (Salvia officinalis), but your jar is empty (I don't blame you: true sage does taste disgusting) find another of the anti-inflammatory sages or try a thyme, or a monarda.
If you've run all out of wood betony (Stachys sp., Betonica sp.) go for self-heal (Prunella sp.), hyssop, anise hyssop (Agastache sp.), thyme, ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea), bugle (Ajuga sp.), white deadnettle (Lamium sp.), hempnettle (Galeopsis sp.), thyme, or one or the other monarda instead.
If you're all out of one or the other tasty real mint (Mentha sp.) try showy calamint (Calamintha grandiflora) or one of the mountain mints (Pycnanthemums sp.) - both taste like a sweeter peppermint. If you don't have those either give one of the other YAMFAIs a try.

There are toxics in the mint family (Teucrium with its livertoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids springs to mind), and there's a whole group of unscented calming herbs in the mint family (Scutellaria, motherwort (Leonurus sp.), bugleweed (Lycopus sp.) etc.) and a few scented calming herbs (the catnips (Nepeta sp.), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), lavender (Lavandula sp.) etc.).
But by and large, if it's an aromatic mint, you can use it as a general anti-inflammatory.

Granted, there are nuances: ground-ivy is best for inflammations in the mucosa of the face (including ears and throat), sage, thyme and monarda are great for the lungs, the spices (rosemary, basil, thyme, savory, oregano, marjoram etc. etc.) will help with tummy troubles, oregano and marjoram are also nice for menstrual cramps ... but if you don't have one MFAI, give another a try. It'll help a little bit, and, who knows, perhaps it'll be just the herb you needed in the first place.

Related entries: YARFAs - YACFCs - YAMFDs - Astringent vs anti-inflammatory - Hyssop - Sage types


These entries (YAMFAIs and YARFAs) highlight the reason it's so important to understand 1) the relationships between plants and 2) the way that plants act in the body, rather than just which herb is "specific" for which condition. In fact, I often say I don't believe in specifics, which is to say that the interaction of plants and people is a hell of a lot more complicated than "valerian for insomnia" or "feverfew for migraines." (What's causing the insomnia? What triggers the migraines? Two people can have the very same symptoms caused by vastly different processes in the body.) I wish people would stop memorizing herbs for conditions and start learning how herbs work. Thanks for your efforts in that direction, Henriette!

Of course, it makes for very short lectures: "here we have strawberry leaf, YARFA, and here's hyssop, YAMFAI" ...

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