Native Coloradan Becky Anderson attended culinary school in Pennsylvania and worked for several well-known Colorado Springs restaurants before deciding to study herbs and turn them into a home-based business.

Native Coloradan Becky Anderson attended culinary school in Pennsylvania and worked for several well-known Colorado Springs restaurants before deciding to study herbs and turn them into a home-based business.

Combining her culinary degree with training as a master clinical herbalist and aroma therapist made perfect sense to her, she said.

“I think about how things taste. I want my products to taste good,” she said. “I have one woman who buys an 8-ounce jar of my allergies herbal remedy in the spring, and she uses it as salad dressing all summer long.”

For her business, Earth Cures, Anderson formulates herbal infusions, washes, salves and lip balms using vegetable glycerin and apple cider vinegar as extraction agents, rather than alcohol, which results in products that often taste like a good vinaigrette.

Making food delicious is where her professional journey began.

“I love to cook. There’s a picture of me peeling peaches in my high chair,” she said during an introductory class on herbs she presented recently at Pikes Peak Urban Gardens in Colorado Springs. “My mother was always a canner and food preserver.”

Studying herbs later brought her culinary training full circle. It wasn’t until she was working on her herbal degree that she learned why curly parsley is a common garnish.

“It’s there to aid digestion and cleanse your breath. It’s the last thing you’re supposed to eat at the end of a meal,” she said.

Her products are alcohol-free, gluten-free and meant to go down easy.

“If you don’t like how something tastes, you’re not going to keep taking it,” she reasoned.

In addition to selling various herbal products, she also helps educate others about herbs and their uses.

Cooking with fresh herbs is one of the easiest ways to take advantage of their natural healing properties, she said.

“What you put in your cooking causes chemical changes in your body depending on what you choose. There are things you can do, not just with tinctures and salves, but with basic cooking, to remedy problems,” she said.

Infusing herbs into tea is a common way to gain access to their medicinal qualities, such as basil’s power to sooth the stomach, thyme or mint’s effect as a decongestant or garlic’s capacity to kill viruses or fungus. Many plants that grow wild offer health benefits too, including the much-maligned dandelion and mullein, a noxious weed that makes a tall yellow flower.

“Dandelion is the number one weed people try to get rid of in their yards but it’s also the number one thing we need,” she said. “It’s great for the liver.”

Mullein flowers have been used since ancient times to fight infections and reduce inflammation.

In addition to eating or drinking fresh herbs, another solution is to bathe with them. “Anything that will help you internally will also help you externally,” Anderson said. “When we take a bath in it, it seeps in through our pores.”

One of her most popular products is a formulation she calls the “daily dose,” a blend of garlic, echinacia, nettles, catnip and dandelion, designed to boost immunity. Her husband, who works as an elementary school teacher, takes it every morning and has stayed so healthy that many of his fellow teachers have started taking it too.

Jan Faust, of Falcon, said she is a big fan of Anderson’s allergy-fighting formulation.

“I’m the biggest advertisement she has for her allergies product,” she said. “I always have it with me. It works better than my inhaler.”

Anderson’s class was held at the new Colorado Springs Sustainability Center, a co-working space that houses the city’s office of sustainability and related non-profit organizations like Pikes Peak Urban Gardens.

PPUG hosts gardening classes and helps start new community gardens around the city. This spring the organization gave away seedling plants by popping up at local businesses and posting the surprise visits on Facebook. The campaign was intended to encourage “random acts of gardening.”

Free seeds and educational resources are available during weekday hours at the PPUG office.

PPUG founder and director Larry Stebbins has a reputation for growing exceptional heirloom garlic. Anderson uses his garlic in several of her products.

“I really like dill a lot,” Stebbins added of his own herbal preferences. “The herb I use the most is probably regular Genovese basil for making pesto and things like that.”

Anderson is planning a follow-up class in July at the Harlan Wolfe Ranch community garden, where she will demonstrate how to harvest herbal plants and talk about how to dry them.