5 Powerful Properties of Fresh Herbs for Health and Healing

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

There’s no shortage of information about the benefits of fresh herbs. In fact, a quick online search provides more than 55 million results – but weeding through the info (no pun intended!) offers a range of results from how to grow herbs to tips for cooking with fresh herbs. What I really wanted to know? What is it, exactly, about fresh herbs that makes them such a powerful source of health and healing?

While it’s easy to reach for the dried spices in the cabinet, which, by the way, tout their own fair share of incredible health benefits, I’ve made it a goal to cook with fresh herbs as often as I can. It makes a tremendous difference in the quality of the meals I cook for my family, and I feel good knowing I’m giving my body more of the essential nutrients it needs to thrive. 

Let’s look at the transformative power of fresh herbs to nourish and heal our bodies.


Fresh herbs are rich in antioxidants, which are vital to protecting our body’s cells from the damage caused by free radicals. This is an essential part of reducing disease, inflammation and chronic illness. Antioxidants also have the power to reduce risk of certain types of cancers, improve our immune function, protect against the effects of aging and heal wounds and injuries. Fresh herbs with high antioxidant levels include rosemary, parsley, basil, oregano, thyme and cilantro, among others.

Fruits and vegetables like leafy greens, berries and citrus are often touted for their incredible antioxidant properties. According to Michigan State University Extension, some fresh herbs may have higher antioxidant values than some fruits and vegetables, when compared ounce to ounce. Talk about small plants with big impact! Maximize the benefits of these antioxidant powerhouses by incorporating fresh herbs into your diet alongside a diverse mix of fruits and vegetables. 


Many fresh herbs contain polyphenols, a plant compound also found in leafy green vegetables. Polyphenols are unique to plants and plant-based products and can offer “protection against the development of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis and neurodegenerative diseases,” according to a study published in the National Library of Medicine

Other benefits of polyphenols include cognitive support, digestive health and anti-inflammatory properties. Fresh sage, rosemary, thyme, peppermint and oregano are a few of the fresh herbs known for the high polyphenol content. 

Digestive Support

You may be familiar with herbs like peppermint, fennel, chamomile and lemon balm for digestive support in products like teas and essential oils, but did you know that herbs like parsley, cilantro and dill also have medicinal properties that can help support a healthy gut by reducing indigestion, bloating and stomach discomfort? Oregano is another fresh herb touted for improving digestion. These flavorful herbs are tasty and healthy options for incorporating into meals like salads, soups and grain bowls.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Similarly to leafy green vegetables, fresh herbs are known to help reduce inflammation.  Reducing inflammation is key to better health and can help decrease chronic pain and illness. Our diets have a direct impact on our body’s ability to reduce or promote inflammation, so adding fresh herbs to your diet in conjunction with a plant-forward approach to eating can significantly improve inflammation. Rosemary, thyme, mint, sage, oregano and basil are among the numerous fresh herbs that pack a punch when it comes to anti-inflammatory properties. 

Interested in learning more about the connection between diet and inflammation? Check out our article, How to Fight Inflammation with Food.

Antimicrobial Agents

The word “antimicrobial” refers to agents that have the ability to stop the growth of – or completely eliminate – the microscopic bad guys we don’t want hanging around (e.g. harmful microorganisms). Antimicrobial agents help kill bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses – and many fresh herbs contain the compounds necessary to treat the infections they cause. Oftentimes these agents come in the form of disinfectants, topical creams and ointments and medications. For example, Neosporin contains antimicrobial properties that protect against bacteria. 

What’s amazing is that fresh herbs also have antimicrobial agents. That’s not to say that herbs should be used in place of highly concentrated antimicrobial agents like medications, ointments and sanitizers. The antimicrobial agents in fresh herbs are usually mild compared to pharmaceutical antimicrobials, and their healing properties are based on such elements as quality, preparation and concentration. 

Cooking with fresh herbs and adding them to teas are wonderful ways to reap their antimicrobial benefits. In an article published in the National Library of Medicine, a brief list of herbal antimicrobial agents included thyme, mint, eucalyptus and lemon balm. The article describes these herbal antimicrobial agents as “free radical scavengers” that essentially block and tackle these harmful molecules that are known to damage cells and cause illness.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

*Medical Disclaimer: All content and information on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you are seeking medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Sweet New Roots, LLC is not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this website

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Featured Articles

Hey! I’m Cortney.
Welcome to Sweet New Roots!

I hope these recipes and resources inspire you to get creative in your kitchen. Let’s get cooking!

Don’t miss a thing!

Stories and recipes, straight to your inbox. Subscribe to the Sweet New Roots newsletter today.