Learn how to grow herbs for health at Herb Day in May

New stories flood the airwaves daily about the latest research on the preventative benefits of various foods and herbs. Words like antioxidants and phytochemicals have become part of the new health-aware lexicon of consumers.

As a result, more and more people are raising their own fruits and vegetables at home — to save money and to control the quality of what they eat. With this increased focus of the importance of disease prevention, there has also been a resurgence in the use of home-grown herbs, not just for culinary uses but for overall health and medicinal purposes as well.

The use of plants to promote wellness certainly isn’t new. Prehistoric use of medicinal plants dates as far back as 60,000 years ago. Formal documentation of herbal remedies can be found as far back as 3000 B.C.

Just as growing your own vegetables can save you time and money and promote good health, growing herbs in your garden or on your windowsill can help you treat many common ailments. Readily available and easily grown, plants can help relieve problems from the common cold to inflammation, poor digestion and insomnia.

Our temperate Central Texas climate allows us to grow herbs outside almost year-round, and some can be grown inside as well. Herbs are easy to start from seed, but many also can be purchased from local nurseries to grocery stores as starter plants to give you a jump on the process. Good potting soil, regular water and plenty of sunshine and you’re good to go.

Most medicinal herbs can be made into simple teas, poultices or salves. I remember my mother making soothing chamomile tea from the garden to help her sleep. Chamomile has been used around the world for centuries as a sleep aid or to help calm an upset stomach. It is also used in a variety of other ways for other ailments.

Because herbal and plant remedies are not regulated, it’s important to make sure you’re educated about all the potential benefits and risks associated with different plants and how best to use them.

More detailed information about medicinal and culinary herbs is available from the American Botanical Council. Established in 1988, ABC educates consumers, health care professionals, researchers, educators, industry and the media on the safe and effective use of herbs and medicinal plants.

ABC is located in East Austin at the historic Case Mill land grant homestead and is surrounded by medicinal and culinary-themed demonstration gardens. The property includes more than 20 gardens, including ones organized by body system, international cuisine and ancient Chinese and Indian herbal medicine, among others. Trained council staff members offer guided tours to provide information and educate the public about medicinal plants.

“There is a growing interest in wellness and keeping our food and medicine local,” says ABC Education Coordinator Jenny Perez. “People want to know how they can stay healthy with the use of antioxidants or protective phytochemicals in their food. They’d rather prevent disease and instead incorporate beneficial plants as part of their daily diet or daily smoothie.”

ABC will celebrate the 12th annual HerbDay 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 6 at the headquarters, 6200 Manor Road. It’s a free event with herbal educational activities, including presentations from local and national herbal experts. At 10:30 a.m. Ellen Zimmerman, owner of Austin School of Herbal Studies and EZ Herbs, will lead a walk through the gardens. Nicole Telkes, author and director of the Wildflower School of Botanical Medicine in Austin, will lead the second herb walk at 1:30 p.m.

Mindy Green, aromatherapist, herbalist, author, educator and owner of Green Scentsations, will give a presentation at 11:45 a.m. called “Rose: Herbal Remedy, Aromatic Essence, and Culinary Delight.”

ABC’s founder and executive director, Mark Blumenthal, will present “Humorous Health: Conventional and Alternative Medicine, Pharmaceutical Drugs, Diet, and Lifestyle as Seen through Cartoons” at 2:45 p.m.

“ABC looks forward to reaching out to the local community on HerbDay,” said ABC Special Projects Director Gayle Engels. “In keeping with ABC’s nonprofit educational mission, we get to introduce visitors to the beneficial plants we love and to the broad knowledge base of local and global herbalists.”

Plants, books, refreshments and membership information will be available in addition to free sample issues of ABC’s acclaimed, full-color, quarterly, peer-reviewed scientific journal, HerbalGram, and other educational literature.

There will be live music throughout the day and special events for children including a maypole, an herbal art activity and a seedling planting activity for the child to take home.

ABC’s website, abc.herbalgram.org, includes a comprehensive collection of information about the use of herbs and medicinal plants.


New Massage Harmony opening in Lakeway

Local spa Massage Harmony is opening its fourth location, this one in Lakeway. To celebrate, the spa will offer free chair massages, Ashiatsu and Thai massage demonstrations, drinks and bites, giveaways and raffles 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday. The new spa features eight massage rooms, including a couples suite. Massage Harmony has a $40 introductory rate for a 60-minute massage (regularly $60), or $59 for a 90-minute massage (regularly $80). 2303 RM 620 S., Lakeway. massageharmony.com


Mark your calendar for Shred Day to safely get rid of old documents

Shred Day is coming! The Austin chapter of ARMA (which officially stands for Association of Records Managers and Administrators) is having its Spring Shred Day on April 29.

Why is this so exciting? You can box up all of your old records that you no longer need but have sensitive information contained in them, and Austin ARMA will shred those documents for you. Austin ARMA teams up with Balcones Shred, Iron Mountain and Shred-it to make that happen.

Stop by 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 29 at the northwest corner of the Austin Community College Highland Mall campus, 523 E. Highland Mall Blvd. If you choose the express lane option, you place your documents on a truck that is secured. Your documents get shredded within 72 hours.

Or you can choose the Mobile Shred Units and shred your documents right then and there, but be prepared to wait around.

Documents must:

1. Be only dry paper documents

2. Be packed in cardboard boxes with fitted lids or securely closed box flaps no larger than 2 feet by 2 feet by 3 feet

3. Not have any hard plastics, plastic bags, electronic media, batteries or three-ring binders.

Donations are accepted, and half go to the local chapter and half to the food bank.

Find more specifications and information at austinarma.com/shred-day as well as a list of what to keep and what to shred.


What to do with an old car seat? Recycle it

Finally an answer to this age-old question: What do you do with that old car seat?

You should not give it to another child, because car seats actually expire, usually around six years.

What you should do, and can do, is recycle it.

From now until April 30, you can bring your old car seats to Target stores. The car seats will be collected and sent to TerraCycle to recycle. Look for a box at the front of the store or in the baby/kids section. You can also get a coupon for 20 percent off a new car seat. This is a perfect solution when it’s time for a toddler to move out of the infant seat and into the booster seat.


Who’s coming to Austin Fashion Week? See the lineup

Fashion X Austin, Austin Fashion Week, is coming May 13-21. Here’s the official lineup from the organizers:

May 13: Moda x Mexico, 7:30 p.m., the Driskill Hotel. See some of Mexico’s best designers including Abel López, Amor & Rosas, Benito Santos, Olmos & Flores, and Paco Mayorga and shop the lines of Ambaria Galería, Arte Joyas, Lørdag & Søndag, Marina Gutiérrez Jewelry and Smile & Shine. The event will benefit the Hispanic Alliance.

May 13-17: Austin Fashion Week Soirees, various times and locations. Austin boutiques, salons and spas will host designer trunk shows, mini runway events, shopping events and more. Find it 2nd Street District on May 13, Domain Northside on May 14. Most events are free and open to the public. austin.fashionx.co

May 18: Austin Fashion week Runways & Gallery, 6:30p.m., JW Marriott Austin. See looks from local favorites May Designs, This Is Sloane, Ballet Austin and UT Fashion Students; plus Becky Hollands, Rong Zhang and Shalyguo; and Project Runway stars Amanda Valentine and Kelly Dempsey. See a mini show from Texas-based designers Adeara, Ellis Bell, House of Cynthia’s “Huron Collection, Jacqueline Bergeron, Megan Fullerton, megMORGAN, Pinup House, SixChel by Dina Chávez and Tashumbra. Basal, Bernina of America, Betty Alida, Cassandra Collections, Dawn Franklin Designs, FYU Designs, Janika Design, Ki ng & Rose Optical, Koh Gen Do Cosmetics, Molly Phillips, Penny Luck and Wearable Sculptures will be in the gallery.

May 19: Austin Fashion Week Runways & Gallery, 6:30p.m., JW Marriott Austin. See local designers Boudoir Queen, Brittany Nicole, Harry Rex and Lee Merritt Swimwear; plus Hopeless + Cause Atelier, Miles David and Wearable Sculptures; and “Project Runway” stars Daniel Esquivel and Gunnar Deatherage. See a mini show from Texas-based designers Daniel Hinojos, Day Avery, Haus of Heirs, LaLa, La Lo La Clothing, MariAscoli, My Boyfriend’s Briefs and Sydney Morris — the Label. A.S. Styled Life, Basal, Bernina of America, Betty Alida, Cassandra Collections, Evangeline Clothing, Janika Design, King & Rose Optical, Koh Gen Do Cosmetics, Molly Phillips, and Penny Luck will be in the gallery.

May 20: Austin Fashion Week Runways & Gallery, 6:30p.m., JW Marriott Austin. See local designers Big Bertha’s Paradise and Ross Bennett; designers from Austin School of Fashion Design; and Abi Ferrin, Lizna, Nomzee Designs; and Primrose; and “Project Runway”stars Melissa Fleis and Something by Sonjia. See a mini show from Texas-based designers Aplomo, Ca$hmere Mafiia, Ferrah, Gwenivx, J. Ewing Designs, Mansion Rose, Masha Osoianu Design, Monks & Mavericks and Nina Means. A.S. Styled Life, Basal, Bernina of America, Betty Alida, Cassandra Collections, King & Rose Optical, Koh Gen Do Cosmetics, Janika Design, Molly Phillips, Penny Luck and Prachi Bhise Jewelry will be in the gallery.

May 21: Austin Fashion Week Brunch, 1 p.m., Domain Northside. Runway shows from Domain Northside stores come to your table.

For more information and tickets, visit austin.fashionx.co.


Give the gift of flowers for Mother’s Day all year long

Noted Austin wedding floral design company Malleret Designs has launched a new service, Malleret à la maison, that lets you have the designs of Malleret brought into your home one time or at weekly or monthly rates. Prices start at $135 plus delivery. Malleret is from the mind of Marcela Bogado Dhar. malleret.com

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