In Global Love Food, Superfoods, Wellness

By Lauren Glucina

Without even really realising it, we often have a treasure trove of natural, powerful, safe medicines growing on our window sills or sitting in our pantries. The everyday, common herbs and spices we adorn our foods with should not be overlooked for their medicinal properties. More than simply adding culinary flare, these beauties have so much more to offer. Today, I am showing you some of my favourites, and how to use them.

TURMERIC

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY • CARMINATIVE (DISPELS GAS) • AROMATIC • DIGESTIVE

Available whole, or as a bright golden yellow powder, turmeric is useful for inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, asthma, skin conditions and inflammatory bowel. It is also rich in antioxidants and vitamins A, C and E. Cancer protective and anti tumour.

HOW TO USE IT:

  • Slice it fresh and steep in hot water to take as an infusion (a little lemon and honey combine well like this).
  • Add half a teaspoon of the powder to your smoothies.

Cayenne

Stimulant • ANTISPASMOTIC • rubefacient (reddens the skin) • antiseptic • carminative (DISPELS GAS)

Cayenne certainly grabs your attention. It is a wonderful cardiovascular tonic and circulatory stimulant, helping to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides, improve the blood flow through the veins and arteries and increase warmth. Cayenne is a strong antioxidant, and a great digestive tonic – it helps to increase gastrointestinal juices and stimulate appetite. Used topically, it works as a counterirritant while simultaneously blocking pain receptors.

How to use it:

  • A pinch in a glass of water (with lemon and honey to flavour it).

Cinnamon

Warming stimulant • carminative (dispels gas) • aromatic • astringent (contracts body tissues) antispasmotic • antiseptic • antiviral

Cinnamon powder is ground from the dried inner bark of the tree. It is traditionally used for digestive ailments, particularly, flatulence, irritable bowel, nausea and diarrhoea. It is also useful for menstrual irregularities and fighting yeast infections.

How to use it:

  • Add a teaspoon to your smoothies or sprinkle over a hot drink.
  • Combines well with ginger.

Clove

Carminative (dispels gas) • mild local anaesthetic for toothache • warming stimulant • antiseptic • antispasmodic

Clove is a great remedy for toothache, and chewing on a clove bud may help anaesthetise the area before you get to see a dentist. It is also a great carminative, combining well with other warming spices such as cinnamon, cardamom and ginger – in a lovely chai tea for example – to help ease gastric distress and improve digestion.

How to use it:

  • Chew fresh cloves for toothache, or dab a cotton tip in the oil and dab onto the affected area.

Ginger

Digestive Stimulant • Circulatory stimulant • carminative (dispels gas) • antispasmodic • anti-inflammatory • diaphoretic (induces sweating) • anti-emetic (prevents nausea and vomiting)

Perhaps my all time favourite, simply because it is so versatile. Ginger is a true remedy for many digestive complaints. It works as a carminative to help ease wind and bloating. It eases indigestion. And it works a treat for nausea, whether it be from an upset tummy, morning or travel sickness. Aside from its therapeutic use for digestive ailments, it is also a fantastic circulatory stimulant, and helps bring blood flow to the surface. As a stimulant, ginger can also help increase sweating, which is useful in case of a fever, to bring the body temperature down. Finally, ginger is useful for treating respiratory conditions. Soothing to coughs and colds and even sore throats when taken as a gargle.

How to use it:

  • Make an infusion: slice an inch of ginger and steep in hot water.
  • Take ginger tablets with you for travel sickness

Peppermint

Antispasmodic • antiemetic • carminative • analgesic (relieves pain) • nervine • aromatic • diaphoretic • Antipruritic (topically)

Peppermint is so easy to grow and soothing to the digestive tract. A well known stomach tonic, it helps to promote digestion, ease flatulence, cramps, spasms, and bring relief to irritable bowel syndrome. Peppermint contains menthol, an aromatic oil that has antimicrobial and antiviral properties. You can use a little peppermint oil blended with your lip balm to help treat cold sores – in addition to being antiviral, it is soothing, cooling, and relieves pain. Peppermint can also help improve the flow of bile and break up gallstones.

How to take it:

  • Peppermint makes a lovely infusion. It also helps make other herbal infusion more palatable.

Parsley

Diuretic • carminative • expectorant • antispasmodic • antimicrobial • gastric tonic • uterine tonic •  emmenagogue

Parsley is one of my favourite herbs because it helps us ladies out so much with all things pelvis, bladder and uterus related. Parsley is a natural diuretic and helps eliminate bloating and water retention. Not only that, it also helps maintain kidney and bladder health, by assisting with the elimination of waste. As an emmenagogue, parsley helps to stimulate blood flow to the pelvic region and the uterus, making it helpful in encouraging a delayed period and in relieving menstrual pain. It is also a great digestive, helping dispel gas. Finally, parsley sprigs chewed at the end of the meal help to freshen the breath (thanks to all that lovely chlorophyll!).

How to take it:

  • Again, as an infusion, or by adding a handful to your smoothies.

Rosemary

Antispasmodic • carminative • circulatory stimulant • hepatoprotective (liver protective)
Antimicrobial

Rosemary stimulates the circulatory and nervous systems, making it useful for treating headaches and migraines. You can either take it internally as an infusion, or externally as an oil. It improves blood flow and strengthens fragile blood vessels. Rosemary also helps reduce flatulence and stimulates the digestive tract and gallbladder, to increase the flow of bile.  It has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is also helpful for painful periods.

How to use it:

  • Place a few stems in hot water and steep, to drink as an infusion.
  • Dry the herb and prepare as an infused oil to rub on your temples when you have a headache.

Sage

Antiseptic • antimicrobial • carminative • astringent • antioxidant • antispasmodic • anxiolytic

The botanical name for Sage, Salvia, is a Latin derivative that means to save. Sage is great for oral health. Like parsley, it helps freshen the breath, and can be used as a mouthwash. The astringent and antiseptic properties help prevent gum disease and mouth ulcers. Try it as a gargle with a little added apple cider vinegar for sore throats, laryngitis or tonsillitis. Take it as an infusion to help settle the stomach and fight inflammation. Its astringent properties will help ease mild diarrhoea (astringent simply means the drawing together of body tissues). It also has oestrogenic action – it can help stimulate breast milk production and ease hormonal nights sweats and hot flushes.

How to use it:

  • Prepare as an infusion to either drink or gargle.
  • Take as a mouthwash.

Thyme

Antiseptic • antimicrobial • antispasmodic • anthelmintic (anti-parasitic) • astringent (contracts body tissues) • carminative • expectorant

This little Mediterranean shrub contains volatile oil that helps settle a grumpy stomach. It is strongly antiseptic so this makes it useful for treating sore throats, tonsillitis and laryngitis as a gargle. As an expectorant (relieves chest congestion and expels mucous), it is particularly good for coughs.

You can use it topically (as a cream) to treat an infected wound.

How to use it:

  • Pick a little fresh from the garden, steep in hot water and enjoy.

Lauren Glucina of Ascension Kitchen shares raw and plant-based whole foods recipes, remedies and articles that nourish both body and soul. She is a trained Raw Foods Chef and Educator and current Natural Medicine Student Practitioner, living by the simple philosophy: get back to nature.

Say hi at www.ascensionkitchen.com
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