Herbs of Cyprus and tips from grandma!

From antiquity Cyprus was famous for its herbs. Because of its geology, geographical position and climate, more than 600 herb species can be located on the island.  Cyprus herb processing and trade date as back as 2,000BC and their significance is portrayed in many archaeological and historical manuscripts.

Herbs of Cyprus like oregano, sage, chamomile and mint are exported worldwide. In everyday life, Cypriots use herbs as beverages, as essential oils for massage therapy, for prevention, relaxation or toning. Herbs are also widely used in cooking for their aroma and great flavour. 

We give you a short brief of the most popular Cyprus herbs and give you useful tips and 'little secrets' passed from generation to generation...


Aloe - 'Aloe'

Although Aloe is 99% water, the remaining 1% is extremely powerful.  Aloe is an excellent treatment for skin conditions such as burns and eczema.  It supplies oxygen to the skin cells which in turn increase the strength and synthesis of skin tissue. Its juice reinforces the immune system of the human organism.

Tip from grandma: Use aloe vera juice for all dermal problems like wounds, sunburn and scalds.

Anise - 'Glikanisos'

Anise stimulates the functions of vital organs (liver, heart, lungs, brain).

Tip from grandma: Tea can be made from Anise seeds and it helps to soothe irritable bowel syndrome, menstrual cramps, stomach pains and is especially helpful for infants.

Tip for cooking: Use anise star into rice for extra flavour.

Basil - 'Vasilikos'

Sweet basil is low in calories, has almost no fat, and is a good source of vitamin A. Basil helps in indigestion and bloating. Basil has a reputation as an insect repellent, particularly for mosquitoes.

Tip from grandma: Taken as tea it is a tonic for the stomach and it soothes nervous headaches. 

Tip for cooking: Use it fresh or dry in pasta sauces and fresh salads. Can be combined with a variety of other herbs and can be used in soups and rice, as well as, with chicken and fish.

Calendula - 'Kalendula'

It is excellent for the treatment of inflammatory diseases, for gastritis and gastric ulcer. It helps in constipation and it increases the bile flow. It also helps the premenstrual syndrome and the menstruation pains.

Tip from grandma: An everyday use of its juice on the skin may disappear moles. Calendula tea can be used as a mouthwash for gum and teeth infections and gargle for sore throats and tonsillitis.  Alternatively, drink the tea to help treat bladder infections or stomach ulcers.

Chamomile - 'Hamomili'

Chamomile is perhaps the world's most soothing herb, helping to relieve anxiety and insomnia. Chamomile is also often used internally to treat digestive disorders, relieve symptoms of flu, bowel inflammation, heartburn and even menstrual cramps. Externally, it can be used to treat skin disorders, sunburns, eye inflammation, bacterial infections and reduces allergy symptoms.

Tip from grandma: Put chamomile infusion over a cotton wool and apply it over irritated eyes.

Fennel - 'Marathos'

Fennel belongs to a unique category and is considered both a herb and a spice as all parts of the plant are edible including the flowers. It relieves from colic and tympanites. It increases appetite and helps lose weight during diet. Also, it relieves bronchial congestion.

Tip from grandma: Fennel seeds are believed to be good for snake bites, insect bites or food poisoning. Are also excellent for obesity.  Fennel also helps to stimulate the flow of milk when breastfeeding.

Tip for cooking: Fennel seeds are baked into breads, biscuits and Italian sausages. Seeds compliment asparagus, tomato and cucumber. Stems can be grilled with fish, meats and vegetables, and leaves can be added to salads, olives, and fish.

Lemon Verbena - Alouiza'

If your nerves are getting the best of you or if you can't seem to snap out of a depressive episode, lemon verbena may be the herb for you. It is also very good for nausea and irritable bowel syndrome.

Tip from grandma: Drink one glass of Lemon Verbena as a beverage half an hour before lunch and it will help you to lose weight.


Levander - 'Levanta'

It is a tonic of the nervous system and it is effective on headaches, depression and insomnia.  Cold levander tea is an excellent skin cleanser and helps to sooth sunburn. 

Tip from grandma: Put lavender flowers in your closet to reject the moth and give a pleasant aroma.

Tip for cooking: If you thought that lavender is used only to reject the moth of the closet you are mistaken. The gourmet gardeners know that the flowers of lavender can lead in their kitchen! Prepare lavender sugar in a glass jar with 1 part lavender flowers to 10 parts granulated sugar. Leave for 2 weeks and then sprinkle it with the aromatic flavoring the fruit tarts, jam and donuts! The lavender is combined with delicious creamy cheese (mascarpone, ricotta), lamb, chicken, duck, dried fruits, honey, dairy products (cream) and nuts (walnuts).

Nettle - 'Tsouknida'

It consists of vitamins C, K, pro-vitamin A, formic, acid, potassium, iron, calcium and nitrogen. Its decoction is suitable for rheumatism, bronchitis and it helps diabetics decrease sugar levels in their blood. It also helps to overcome cancer problems in various organs. The oil of nettle helps in alopecia. Three drinks of nettle are sufficient to increase the iron level of the blood to the degree the organism needs.

Tip from grandma: Use dry netlte in warm foot bath to reduce phlebitis.

Oregano - 'Rigani'

Oregano can be used as a treatment for colds, toothaches, stomachaches, bruises and swellings.

Tip for cooking: Even the most inexperienced cook knows that oregano is one of the key ingredients in pizza and pasta sauces, and is a signature poultry-stuffing herb. Put oregano over grilled vegetables. Also, spinkle over fresh bread with virgin olive oil. It is highly recommended!


Peppermint - 'Diosmos'

It is the strongest natural aphrodisiac herb. It helps in ulcerous colitis. It stops indigestion and diarrhea. It is very good for cold and sinusitis. It helps in migraines related to digestion problems. It tones the nervous system and relieves from stress, tension and hysteria.

Tip from grandma: Use peppermint oil as a cold rub on the chest or inhale it through a vaporizer and you will find that your nasal congestion has disappeared.

Tip for cooking: The combination of mint and chocolate is ideal. What a great idea to prepare your own mint ice-cream. It pairs also well with pastas and salads and is often used into drinks. Try fresh mint with fresh lemonade and pleanty of ice.

Rosemary - 'Dentrolivano'

Rosemary herb contains very good amounts of vitamin A, vitamin-C and folic acid. Used moderately it has excellent results against dyspeptic complaints and aid to stimulate apetite. Furthermore, rosemary is used for headaches.

Tip from grandma: Rosemary tea can be used as a conditioning hair rinse, as is said to aid hair loss recovery in cases where hair loss has been due to stress and worry.

Tip for cooking: Rosemary is used abandantly in the Mediterranean kitchen. Poultry, fish, lamb and beef are all enhanced by its pungent flavor. In addition, try it with tomatoes, cheese, eggs, potatoes, squash, soups and salad dressings.

Sambucus - 'Zamboukos'

Sambucus flowers act as a diaphoretic and are very good for treating colds and flu, sore throats, toothache, dry cough, sore throat and tonsils.

Tip from grandma: Apply Zambucus tea on a cotton pad and use as eye wash to treat tired and inflamed eyes. 

Thyme - 'Thimari'

It is a natural antibiotic by itself. It is suitable for infections of the respiratory as well as of the peptic system. It is excellent for the treatment of cough, cold, bronchitis and asthma. It strengthens the heart and the whole nervous system.  Theme also provides clarity of the mind.

Tip from grandma: Due to its styptic action it is useful for the child diarrhea and night urination.

Tip for cooking: Theme pairs well with lamb, poultry and tomatoes, and is often used in soups, stews, stocks and sauces.

Valerian - 'Valeriana'

Valerian has a terrible smell but is the most effective in insomnia and reduces stress and anxiety. It is also effective for menstrual agitation during women’s period.

Tip from grandma: Use it for two weeks, then stop for a week and continue again for two weeks.