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Nine Herbs to Grow on Your Windowsill

Did you know sage can combat carpal tunnel syndrome and oregano is a powerful antioxidant? Many common herbs do more than add flavor toyour meals: they go into overtime to work on asthma, arthritis, andinsomnia.Here's a quick list of nine herbs that are easy to grow, followed by advice on how to get started.

Holly Shimizu, a renowned horticulturist and garden designer, and's advisor on gardening, gives a green "thumbs up" to these.

Aromatic spearmint and peppermint do more than add a little zest toyour cup of tea: they are also a traditional treatment for gall stones. The oils of these effective antioxidants ease muscle tightness, and chewing on mint sprigs can relieve an upset stomach.

Distinguished by its narrow, spiky leaves and piney scent, rosemary varies in color from shiny dark green to pale gray-green all over. Known as the herb of remembrance, rosemary contains several antioxidants that help prevent aging in cells and may work against Alzheimer's disease.

Lemon balm
Also known as melissa, lemon balm relieves chronic fatigue syndrome and can be helpful in treating migraines. A tea made with lemon balm can also work as a sedative and a stomach soother. Its bright green heart-shaped leaves give off a lovely lemony scent.

Thyme's pungent scent comes from the oil in the small oval leaves. Apply a compress of thyme leaves to the aching muscles in your neck,shoulders, and back if you're prone to tension headaches. A cup ofthyme tea taken up to four times a day may be effective againstbronchitis and whooping cough.

Available in numerous varieties, sage is a strongly aromatic, bushyplant with spiky purple flowers. Loaded with anti-inflammatory compounds, sage is effective against carpal tunnel syndrome. Steep two teaspoons of dried sage in a cup of boiling water and gargle with it (after it has cooled) to treat mouth and throat inflammations.

The robust taste of oregano comes from its soft, oval leaves that grow in pairs along the stem. Its power punch of antioxidants canhelp maintain the immune function of those who are HIV-positive. Good for arthritis, asthma, and emphysema, oregano also contains seven compounds that lower blood pressure.

A rich source of the bone-strengthener flourine, parsley works to prevent osteoporosis. Apply crushed parsley leaves to reduce the black and blue colors of a bruise. Parsley comes in two varieties:curly parsley and the taller, flat-leaf Italian parsley. Eat a sprig for a quick breath freshener and to aid in digestion.

Fragrant flowers characterize the spiky leaves and colorful blooms of lavender. Aromatherapists routinely use oil of lavender for pain; mix a few drops of lavender oil with a tablespoon of vegetable oil and massage the painful area. Sprinkle a few drops on your bedsheets to help you sleep, or relax in a warm bath scented with lavender oil.

The downy, gray-green leaves of catnip are a favorite of cats, so keep this herb off your windowsill if you don't want your cats playing in your plants. A member of the mint family, catnip has a mild tranquilizing effect on most people. Try a cup of catnip tea about 45 minutes before bedtime to induce sleep.

Note: All these herbs can grow from one to three feet tall, so keep them trimmed. Herbs are safe in moderate doses, but like any medicine, some can be harmful when taken in frequent, large doses. Herbal oils are intended for external use only. Keep such oils away from small children who might be tempted to taste them.