Monday, November 23, 2009
Culinary Herbs as medicinals
and since we are still on the subject of herbs...
Think of your spice rack as your medicine chest. most culinary herbs actually began as medicinal herbs. Through thousands of years of dietary changes we have lost the art of eating our medicines
Now, during these times of chemicals, preservatives, GMO's, homogenization irradiation and ever growing health care costs it is time to get back to basics and back to using some of our most common herbs in treating some of our ailments..
If you are pregnant or have a serious medical condition, always consult a professional before ingesting significant quantities of herbs
Basil (leaf, flower) is cooling and belongs to the mint family. It aids digestion, supports the stomach and is a slight sedative. (tea 4-6oz., tincture 10-15 drops)
Bay (leaf) is astringent, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. It supports the nervous system and stomach, helps dispel gas. It stimulates menstrual flow. (tea 2-4 oz., tincture 10 drops)
Black pepper (seed) is stimulating, increases flow of gastric enzymes, and helps prevent constipation. (tea 2oz.)
Cayenne as you know is very heating. Cayenne strengthens the heart, capillaries, arteries and nerves. Good for cold feet and hands. It also stimulates stomach secretions and opens the bronchi. Mix cayenne with garlic, lemon, ginger and honey to make a tea to help get over a cold or flu. You can vary this tea with or without the ginger or garlic, and just use a pinch of cayenne. If you have a slip of the knife while cooking, packing enough cayenne to cover well the exposed flesh will help stop the bleeding and is anti-microbial. (pinch in your tea, 2-5 drops tincture)
Cinnamon (bark) is an astringent, dispels gas, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial. It can also help relieve diarrhea. (tea 2 oz., tincture 5-10 drops)
Cloves are anesthetic and work well for toothaches (a drop of the oil or tincture on the offending tooth) and as a sore throat gargle. (tea 2oz., 10 drops tincture in water for gargle, do not swallow)
Fennel (seed) is a wonderful warming plant to help ease flatulence, indigestion, colic and gastro-intestinal spasms. Fennel will also ease throat tension and coughs as well as bring up phlegm from the lungs. (tea 4-6oz., tincture 10-15 drops)
Garden sage (leaf) is cooling, disinfectant and astringent. It cools a fever, cleanses the blood, eases headache and nervous tension. It also stimulates digestion and is an emmenagogue. Garden sage also works well as a mouthwash for sore throat, mouth ulcers and bleeding gums. Garden sage is the variety of sage that you will commonly find in the grocery store. (tea 4-6oz., tincture 10-15 drops)
Garlic is excellent when you are sick. It stimulates your immune response, is anti-microbial and promotes sweating. It is useful when traveling to discourage parasites. Garlic also decreases cholesterol, LDLs, and blood pressure. Eat with parsley if having garlic breath bothers you, or a loved one. To enjoy the medicinal effects of garlic it important not to get it too hot. The best way to cook with it is to sprinkle it raw onto your food, or add it in at the end of cooking once the heat is turned off.
Ginger is heating and increases circulation especially to the pelvic region. It is useful for nausea, motion sickness and to stimulate the appetite. Ginger makes a lovely footbath to warm you on a cold night. (tea 4-6oz., tincture 10-15 drops)
Nutmeg (seed) aids digestion, flatulence, diarrhea and nausea. It is a mild sedative in small doses and narcotic in large doses. It works well steeped in warm milk or brandy. (tea 2-3oz., tincture 5 drops)
Oregano (leaf) helps indigestion, coughs and headaches. It is an emagogue and is a good poultice for painful swelling. (tea 4-6oz., tincture 10-15 drops)
Peppermint (leaf) is both cooling and stimulating. It helps cramps from gas, bloating, motion sickness and nausea. Peppermint can also soothe a headache by drinking the tea or putting a cool cloth soaked in tea across your forehead. (tea 4-6oz., tincture 10-15 drops)
Rosemary (leaf, flower) is warming, both a circulatory and liver tonic. It is a digestive aid and stimulates the liver as well as gastric juices. It is an emmenagogue and will soothe a headache. Rosemary is very antiseptic and makes a good wound soak. (tea 4-6oz., tincture 10-15 drops)
Tarragon (leaf) stimulates the appetite, relieves flatulence and colic. It is also anti-fungal and anesthetic. (tea 4oz., tincture 10 drops)
Thyme (leaf) supports the stomach. It is also antiseptic (good as a wash for skin infections) and antispasmodic. It works well for congested lungs and shortness of breath. (tea 4-6oz., tincture 10-15 drops)
Turmeric (root) is warming, analgesic and astringent. It promotes bile, relieves a congested liver and gallstones and aids digestion. Turmeric also reduces tumors and uterine fibroids and is an emmenagogue. (tea 4-6oz., tincture 10-15 drops)
Many flowers are also edible and are beautiful additions to salads or desserts. These include borage, calendula, chive, lilac,violet and nasturtium.
Before you walk to you medicine cabinet, consider your spice rack.