Many of us are familiar with herbs. We often use them in cooking. They add a fragrant taste to a multitude of dishes, but accentuating a recipe is only one benefit to using herbs. Did you know that herbs have a vast array of benefits that many are unaware of? Herbs not only add taste, but they have medicinal purposes, detoxing properties and can even be used for household cleaning and insect repellant.
Many of our herbal remedies today are derived from ancient civilizations. There are three main medicinal herb traditions are: Ayurvedic, Chinese, Roman and Greek sources. These also include Mayans, Aztecs and Native American traditions.
Romans and Greeks crowned their leaders with dill and laurel and used dill to purify the air. During the Roman Empire, the only medicines available were based on natural remedies or concoctions like vinegar or wine, which were used for disinfecting wounds. Surgeons used extracts of opium (morphine) and henbane seeds (scopolamine) as pain killers.
In Middle Ages, herbs were used to preserve meat as well as make rotting food more palatable. Early settlers grew herbs for seasoning their food, and for their medicinal properties. Native American Indians used herbs for tanning and dyeing leather.
Ayurvedic medicine from India is a holistic approach to healing that originated around 1500 B.C. It focuses on an individual’s good health by balancing the body so that is can cure itself. Herbs, diet and natural remedies are used to restore balance.
Traditional Chinese Medicine, dates back 2000 to 3000 years and is based on a belief that your health is the result of constant battling between opposing forces (yin and yang). Similar to Ayurvedic, when these forces are in balance, you feel healthy. When they’re out of balance, you feel sick.
We don’t often think of herbs in these ways, because we focus more on their flavor attributes, but perhaps if you knew what ailments they can alleviate, it would be a desirable and natural alternative than a trip to the doctor.
Here is a short list of the most popular varieties and the properties they offer.
Turmeric dates back to India 2,500 years, where it is commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine. Turmeric is regarded as a liver cleanser, as well as having antibacterial and antiseptic properties. It has been known to treat depression, Alzheimer’s and arthritis.Turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory that detoxes the liver. Since a healthy liver can assist in the fat burning process, this herb is critical to weight loss.
RECIPE FOR MORNING DETOX:
When you awake in the morning, before your cup of coffee, take a cup of hot water and squeeze a little lemon in it. Next, either grate some fresh turmeric or use the powdered type and sprinkle into the hot water. Sip slowly as you prepare for the day. Since your stomach is empty, it allows this morning tonic to give your body a cleansing flush. The lemon juice is highly alkaline and turmeric is known for its detoxifying properties.
Chamomile is a perennial herb used for its calming and anti-spasmodic properties. Sipping chamomile teas is a great way to relax. It's fragrant and mild-tasting. Try green tea with peppermint for relaxation as well. Chamomile is an anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and antibiotic so it's a good herb to use for tired or swollen feet.
Boil enough water to cover feet in a shallow basin. Place hot water in basin with 5 tea bags of chamomile,1/2 cup of Epsom salt and 2 tablespoons of honey. Soak feet 10 – 15 minutes.
Ginger is recognized for its healing benefits on issues such as nausea, indigestion, motion-sickness, cold and flu, and muscle tension. It is also used to decrease inflammation, help with migraines, painful menstruation, diabetes, arthritis and cancer. You can add ginger to your water or tea by either grating the fresh root or sprinkling the powder type. If you have a sweet tooth, you can make candied ginger treats.
Cinnamon is a flavorful spice frequently related to holiday cooking and pumpkin pie, but it has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce hypertension. It can also be used as a face scrub to purify and cleanse the skin.
Basil is an amazing herb and one of my favorites. It's easy to grow, fragrant and very versatile.Slip a leaf in your water to perk it up. And no salad measures to one that basil is added to. The aroma and taste brings a nuance to mixed greens.
Basil is the key ingredient to pesto sauce.
HERE IS A SIMPLE RECIPE:
Take 2 cups of washed herbs - basil, cilantro, parsley and mint.
Add a 1/2 cup of finely chopped walnuts or pine nuts.
Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil.
Season with a little garlic and sea salt.
Basil is so versatile that it can even be used as an acne tonic and a bug repellent and as an ACNE TONIC
Place 3 tablespoons of dried basil leaves in 1 cup of boiling water.
Cover the cup and steep for 20 minutes or until the liquid takes on a light grass green color.
Remove cover and strain, discarding the leaves.
Splash of your face right before you apply your moisturizer.
This tonic can also be sprayed on your hair when it loses its luster.
Dare to pick up one of those odd-looking roots you pass by in the produce section; stop and read the names of the herbs on display that you’ve never tried. Some grocery stores will list what they are used for. You never know what you’ll discover.