Next time you are planning a trip down to the chemist for an over the counter drug, why not try a herbal alternative to bring relief to an everyday ailment? Here are ten herbs that you can use in your kitchen everyday and incorporate into your menu planning...
Mint - Peppermint is both a stimulant and a relaxant and can be used to aid digestion, as it works to increase the flow of digestive juices in the stomach whilst at the same time relaxing the main muscles in the gut. It’s lovely and soothing for the lining and muscles of the colon, calming issues in this area as well as aiding diarrhea. The healing properties of peppermint are also prominent when using the herb in an oil form. Once processed into an oil, the antispasmodic properties work to soothe stomach and menstrual cramps. Due to the presence of thymol and eugenol in peppermint oil, it works effectively to balance oral and intestinal flora, reducing fermentation of undigested food and assisting in the treatment of colon issues and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Drinking fresh peppermint tea is a wonderful way to add the benefits of peppermint into your diet. Use in salads, vegetables and lamb dishes.
Sage contains rosmarinic acid which acts as an anti-inflammatory within the body. Sage is known to help women suffering from excessive sweating due to menopause, and sage tea is a good way to incorporate it into your diet. Sage can help to regulate menstruation and is good for all female gynaecological problems. It is often used by herbalists as a remedy for respiratory infections. The oils and tannins in Sage have astringent, antiseptic and irritant properties, helping to loosen up congestion, treat coughs and soothe sore throats. Flavour meats, roasts and vegetables with fresh sage.
Turmeric: As well as being used widely to flavor foods, turmeric offers an extensive range of healing properties. Turmeric has been used in traditional Indian healing practices for centuries, having been used to treat anemia, diabetes, digestion, IBS, staph infections and wounds, food poisoning and even cancer. The active constituent of turmeric is curcumin, shown to have a wide range of therapeutic effects: protecting against free radical damage, due to its strong antioxidant powers; working to decrease bacteria; and reducing inflammation amongst other effects. The antibacterial and antiseptic properties of turmeric prevent bacteria from growing in wounds, decreasing the chance of infection. This antibacterial property is so strong that turmeric is used to treat external ulcers that do not respond to other treatments. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric has been used to alleviate pain associated with arthritis, strengthening joints and tendons. Sprinkle on oven roasted cauliflower, use in soups and curries.
Rosemary is an anti-inflammatory and restorative herb that has a soothing effect on the nerves. It’s excellent for people suffering from anxiety and related nervous conditions. The anti-inflammatory properties help to relax spasm, improve digestion and circulation. It assists greatly in soothing a sore throat or coughing as the eucalyptol contained in the herb has been proven to loosen chest congestion. Rosemary is often used externally in both hair and skin products. It increases circulation of hair follicles, promoting growth and is often featured in skin care products due to its outstanding free radical and antioxidant properties, providing a stimulating effect on the skin. Great with oven roasted vegetables and meat dishes.
Lavender – In folk medicine Lavender was used to treat migraines, cramps, restlessness and sleep issues. In aromatherapy it’s used for treating depression, burns, acne, rashes, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, psoriasis, insomnia, pain, palpitations, anxiety and nervousness. In addition to being a calming herb, lavender contains antibacterial and antiviral properties and is used by practitioners of integrative medicine. Why not try delicious lavender tea with almond milk, it makes a perfect nightcap and is soothing and refreshing?
Oregano is known as a strong antiseptic as it’s high in Carvacrol, a type of phenol known for its potency. Oregano is said to relieve arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory powers and this can be done either by including it in your diet or by rubbing it directly upon the point of pain. Oil of oregano is a much stronger product and has been found to be effective in killing candida, as well as helping to clear up eczema and psoriasis. Perfect with fish and Italian dishes.
Parsley is one of the most widely used herbs in the world. It’s important to note that the sprig of garnish on your plate offers much more than simply decoration. The healing properties of parsley can be found in its volatile oils and flavonoids: apiole, terpinolene, appin, myristicin and others. The volatile oils are what work at the cellular level to cleanse toxins, while the flavonoids, like Vitamin C and A, stimulate healthy lungs, joints and heart. Parsley is a natural diuretic, relieving bloat-inducing water retention by stopping salt from being reabsorbed into the body tissue. Parsley also assists with reducing arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Add to salads, seafood and mediterranean dishes.
Cayenne pepper is a herb made from the dried pods of chilli peppers. It’s a natural stimulant without the side effects of most other stimulating agents. It works as the fiery capsaicin in cayenne deactivates a neurotransmitter linked to inflammation, resulting in less pressure. One of the surprising uses of Cayenne has been its involvement in combatting heart attacks by jolting the body through increased circulation and heart rate. Cayenne can rebuild the tissue in the stomach and the peristaltic action in the intestines. It helps the body to create hydrochloric acid which enhances digestion and assimilation of protein too. Use in stir fries, curries, Asian inspired dishes and soups.
Basil is very high in antioxidants, especially when used in the form of an oil or extract. These antioxidants work against the damaging effect of free radicals which contribute to aging, some skin ailments and most forms of cancer. Basil contains cinnamanic acid which works to improve breathing for those with respiratory problems, stabilize blood sugars and enhance circulation. Incorporating Basil into your diet will assist in reducing occurrences of common viruses such as colds and the flu. Basil also holds antibacterial properties and can be used to disinfect surfaces. Add to salads, gluten free pizza and pasta dishes.
Ginger is a well known treatment for motion sickness and nausea as it contains gingerol and shogaol which work to calm the digestive-tract spasms which cause discomfort. The antiseptic properties that Ginger contains render it valuable in treating gastrointestinal infections. Ginger also stimulates the body’s circulation, providing relief for people with poor blood supply to the hands and feet. Ginger is beneficial if you’re experiencing a fever as it induces sweating, working to cool the body temperature. Try a cup of ginger tea or use in Asian dishes, relishes, dips and soups.
Happy healing kitchen!