Herbs and Spices live in our kitchen cupboards, waiting to spice up our cooking and our lives.
Adding flavour to food is just a small part of the potential use of herbs. A good quality herb used in medicinal quantities can have great benefits. The well-stocked spice rack could also become the medicine cabinet.
Most culinary herbs, in general, have a medicinal quality that helps with digestion. Many of them are calming to the system. They help ease the process. Herbs such as Caraway, Cardamom. Cayenne, Ginger, Peppermint and Thyme can help relax the stomach muscles, supporting the movement of food through the system. This helps to reduce bloating and gas. Using these herbs in cooking can help decreases the occurrence of indigestion problems. Making tea from one (or a combination) of these herbs can help relieve these symptoms. Also, many of them are digestive stimulants, helping g to improve the process.
Sage has been traditionally associated with longevity and is a great medicine. the properties of Sage make it ideal for mouth problems. For ulcers a tea can be made up, using a teaspoon of dried herb to a cup of boiling water. The tea, when cooled, can then be used as a mouth wash. This is ideal for any mouth inflammation, including gum, throat and tonsils infections. The antiseptic qualities of Sage also make it suitable as a skin wash and for the healing of wounds. Sage can also be used to dry up breast milk, so should not be taken internally if pregnant or breast-feeding. Hot flushes of menopause can be eased greatly by drinking of sage tea, up to five times a day, or when needed.
Thyme and Sage are really good together, not just for taste, but also medicinally. Thyme has anti-microbial properties, so mixed with Sage or on it’s own, is ideal for mouth and throat infections. It can ease sore throats and can also help soothe irritable coughs. Thyme has a use as an external wash for infected wounds, or to prevent an infection from forming.
Rosemary is well known for its use as an anti-depressant. It may also be helpful in calming headaches, especially where nervous tension is the cause. The herb can relieve indigestion caused by nervous tension. Rosemary is a memory herb, so it is great around exam time, or any time the memory needs a boost. a mouthwash can also be made out of Rosemary, being particularly good to freshen the breath. Rinsing the hair with Rosemary can be beneficial for those suffering from scalp irritations such as dandruff or psoriasis.
Parsley is a great breathe freshener, known for being able to even kill the smell of garlic. If you have fresh parsley, take a couple of sprigs and dip them in vinegar, then chew them thoroughly before swallowing. Parsley can be used to ease fluid retention and urinary problems. Make a strong tea out of the leaves and allow to steep for 40 minutes. Drink this 4 times a day.
Cinnamon is popular on toast in winter because of its warming properties. Any condition where coldness is a problem can be assisted by Cinnamon. Along with Ginger, Cardamom and Cloves, cinnamon can make a great warming drink when mixed with a hot wineglass of red grape juice. ( Mix crushed dried herbs to taste) Not only is the delicious, but it is an iron and digestive tonic as well as helping to get the circulation going. Fantastic drink to come home to on cold days.
Ginger is a very well known spice, not only for culinary uses but also medicinally. It is famous for its use to ease nausea, from morning sickness to travel sickness. Digestion can be helped with Ginger, easing and calming the process. Ginger helps to boost the circulation and brings warmth to the whole body, so is ideal for bad circulation, chilblains and cramps. Arthritis sufferers can find relief in using Ginger. Placing a couple of slices of the root in boiling water can make a simple Ginger tea.
Peppermint is a very relaxing herb. It can relieve digestive problems, such as colic and dyspepsia. It can help relieve nausea and vomiting, especially helpful in pregnancy and travel sickness. anxiety and tension can be relieved with a cup of Peppermint tea. It can be useful to use for migraines and headaches that are related to digestive problems. Period pain and tension can be lessened with the help of Peppermint. This tea can also be used to alleviate diarrhoea.
Caraway helps to stimulate the appetite and ease digestive problems. It is helpful in the treatment of diarrhoea. It can be used as a gargle for laryngitis. Period pain can be relieved and it also has a use in increasing milk flow in mothers.
Cayenne is known as a general tonic especially for the circulation and digestive systems. It is particularly good when there is a problem with cold hands and feet.
Cloves have an antiseptic quality so can be used when there is toothache. Take a whole clove, place on the tooth in question and bite down on this.
Marjoram is useful in the treatment of colds and flu. It has antiseptic properties giving it use in fighting against mouth and throat inflammations and also for coughs. It can be used externally as a wash for infected cuts and wounds, also to soothe stings and bites.
As you can see we already have such a great medicine cabinet in our kitchen, Some of these herbs have similar uses, so mixing two or three together to make the taste more pleasant could be the way to go.
Herbs used in cooking are not usually at a medicinal dose, so are quite safe. When choosing herbs to use, always look for the best quality and preferably organic. These suggestions are for the relieve minor symptoms an first aid treatments. If symptoms persist or are more serious, please ask for advice. Pregnant women should always seek advice before taking any herbs internally.
About the Author
Andrea Putting N.D., Naturopath, Writer and creator/owner of health sites including, http://www.puttingitright.com.au,