14/08/2014 12:45 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 06:12 BST

Herbs Are Better For You Than You Think

Have you got a cupboard full of dried herbs you rarely use? Owning them might make you feel like a culinary genius but the benefits of herbs don't end there. These little pots can also work wonders for improving health, skin and hair.

Susan Curtis, the Natural Health Director at Neal's Yard Remedies, says: "When used with common sense, herbal remedies are a safe and effective form of home help."

From aiding colds to treating stomach ache, these kitchen staples can be added to hot water to make soothing infusions.

Want to know which herb does what? Find out the benefits of five everyone can get their hands on below. However, as Curtis warns, "some herbs are not suitable for everyone or at every stage of life - if in any doubt, you should always consult a medical practitioner."

As well as being an excellent herb for cooking, thyme is a great soother for those who suffer from regular coughs and breathing problems. "It is mainly used as an expectorant and antiseptic for the lungs to clear productive coughs and infections, while the essential oil is used in aromatherapy," says Curtis. The oil can be diluted and mixed with honey to make a cough syrup or as a mouthwash to treat sore throats. In addition, a recent study found it provides more effective relief from period pain than ibuprofen.

Suffer from digestion problems? Curtis recommends using dried rosemary to make an infusion for drinking after meals. Rosemary oil also does wonders for circulation and can be also used as a massage rub to release tension and headaches.

Peppermint is most commonly used in oil form for its distinctive scent and flavor. However, one of the easiest ways to reap the digestive and antiseptic benefits of mint is by adding fresh leaves to water for a healthy coffee substitute. It can also be used in spray form as an insect repellent and is brilliant at cooling the skin during the warmer summer months.

Rich in antioxidants and vitamin K (important for blood-clotting and bone strength), the medicinal benefits of sage include relieving stomach pain, reducing sweating and improving memory. Curtis' top tip? Dilute the dried leaves in water to make a hair rinse - it can help to get rid of dandruff and add colour to lacklustre locks.

Loved for its warm, peppery flavour, tumeric has traditionally been used as an anti-inflammatory ingredient in Chinese medicine. It can also be called upon to relieve indigestion, nausea, period pain and arthritic problems. One of the easiest ways to add more to your diet? Tumeric tea - just add the ground powder to a cup of boiling water and leave to cool. Add honey or lemon to taste.

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