My new book that I am just finishing up will have lots of interesting info on the top 10 plus 1 healing foods and herbs. Here is an overview on a few that are probably in your cupboard right now!
Most people are unaware that they have a medicine cabinet in the kitchen. Cooking herbs are a readily available source for herbal medicine
Muscle pain from an overenthusiastic workout? Cayenne pepper works wonders. Catching a cold? There is nothing like ginger tea.
People comb health food stores and herbal pharmacies every day looking for remedies they can actually make any time they choose. A well stocked spice cabinet doubles as a medicine cabinet.
Easy access to treatment for muscle strain is always good. With cayenne pepper and olive oil that treatment is only as far away as the kitchen.
Using 1 tablespoon of olive oil (a little more if the area is large) add a few grains of cayenne pepper. This combination is one that should start out small. Cayenne is a wonderful treatment for muscle strain but using too much can burn the skin and cause blistering. Cayenne should be added to the oil in small quantities.
Testing on a sensitive area like the underside of the wrist will indicate the heat of the mixture. It should begin to feel warm but not burning a few seconds after applying. If there is a strong burning sensation then too much cayenne has been used. Dilute the mixture with more olive oil till you reach the warm stage. Leftover mixture can be stored in a jar for up to a week. Do not use this mixture on broken skin.
Cold and Flu
Peppermint is the very best for the cold and flu season but if there is no peppermint tea in the house ginger tea works extremely well. Ginger promotes perspiration and reduces body temperature. It has been used for centuries to relieve nausea and is useful in flu situations where vomiting is present.
Use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of ginger to one cup of hot water. The tea should taste like ginger but not burn the throat.. If using fresh ginger grate the herb into a dish and then add it to the cup. Tea filters are a good idea as they prevent residue in the bottom of the cup. Adding a little honey to the tea is also beneficial for both taste and to soothe the throat.
When indigestion strikes and there are no antacids in the house there are natural ways to alleviate the condition. Peppermint tea is an excellent idea to calm the stomach and reduce flatulence. The ginger tea above will help to quell the nausea.
Fennel – crush the seeds and add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon to a cup of boiling water. Steep for 15 minutes. Honey may be added for taste. This tea is a carminative, digestive antispasmodic. It will relieve cramps and gas and aid digestion. It is useful for children but they should only be given 1/2 cup.
Honey – assists digestion and decreases acidity. Use a teaspoon of honey to 1 cup of boiling water.
Long Term Health Benefits
No discussion of beneficial cooking herbs would be complete without mentioning the greatest healer of them all, garlic. This small smelly herb has enormous healing potential. It is antibacterial, assists in digestion of fats by stimulating the production of bile and helps prevent colds and flu. These are only a few of the uses for garlic.
Much research has been done on the healing properties of garlic. For a deeper look read Stinking Rose or Medical Wonder Garlic Benefits Everyone on suite101.
Sustained consumption of garlic is beneficial for preventing arteriosclerosis and lowering blood pressure. Unfortunately the smelly properties of garlic are what make it beneficial and it is best eaten raw.
Herbs and spices should be replaced on a regular basis to keep both their effectiveness and their flavour. That unused spice in the back of the cabinet should be thrown away and replaced at least annually.
There are many healing herbs in the kitchen and getting to know them can make cooking both fun and healthy.