15 Healing Herbs
So let’s look at some of the properties of the fifteen most powerful healing herbs and just what they can do on their own. These herbs and spices are easily integrated into cooking and feature in recipes world-wide. Their informed use with food promotes health on a daily basis. Terms in bold are defined in the glossary at the end of the publication.
Beyond its delicious taste, this sacred herb is known as a carminative, which means it has a soothing effect on the stomach and helps to expel wind, prevent bloating and ease muscle spasms in the stomach. Reports show that compounds in this herb may help to prevent cancer. Avoid large doses or continual use if pregnant.
Made from chilli peppers, cayenne is a flavoursome and useful addition to any kitchen. It contains an alkaloid called capsaicin, a pain-blocking chemical, making it useful in the treatment of headaches. It can relieve gas and bloating when added to food and stimulates the appetite.
This yellow powder is made from a root dug up in winter, boiled and dried. It has a protective effect on the liver and helps to regulate stomach acidity. It can help to stimulate appetite and helps with blood circulation. It treats several inflammatory conditions such as rheumatism and arthritis. It has antibacterial and antioxidant properties, including vitamins A, C and D.
The bark from this evergreen tree contains an oily chemical that can kill a variety of bacteria that may cause illness. It has a mild tranquillizing effect and stimulates the salivary glands and mucous membranes in the stomach. It has been used to help regulate menstrual cycles, treat gastritis, digestive problems and minor cases of fatigue. This spice is a warming stimulant that works well against certain fungal organisms.
This potent anti-microbial has a reputation for helping with the pain of toothache and a range of digestive complaints and rheumatic pains. Cloves are the dried flower buds of an evergreen tree. They contain tannins and flavonoids, antioxidants that help prevent cancer. Cloves can fight a range of infections from yeasts and bacteria and help to strengthen the walls of veins.
The name of this herb comes from an old Norse word ‘dilla’ which translates as to soothe or lull. It is a well-known traditional ingredient in many gripe waters given to children. The seeds have long been used in cooking because this herb aids the digestive process and relieves flatulence. It has antibacterial properties and helps all sorts of colic and heartburn as it has an anti-foaming action that breaks up gas bubbles.
It has also been used in the treatment of bruises as a poultice and as an aid to breastfeeding mothers. Dill is rich in chlorophyll which fights bad breath, but is also quite high in naturally occurring salt.
Like Dill, Fennel is another valuable carminative herb that will dispel trapped gas and ease bloating. It has been used for over 2000 years for these purposes and the chewing of roasted seeds after meals used to be a common practice. It is rich in volatile oils and has been used to stimulate milk flow in breastfeeding mothers, to help with bad breath and other body odours that originate in the intestines. It is said to stimulate menstruation and for this reason is not recommended for pregnant women.
Not just for keeping vampires at bay, this all round healer is almost a medicine chest in itself. It can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, works against blood clots and is a powerful natural antibacteriacide. It reduces the risk of hardening arteries and research suggests garlic may even help prevent cancer.
In use since at least ‘biblical’ times it treats parasitic worm infections, digestive problems and respiratory diseases. It is an immune stimulant with an antiseptic and antibacterial effect. No kitchen should be without it.
Another self-contained pharmacopoeia, ginger has been used in the treatment of: angina, arthritis, bursitis and tendonitis, colds and flu, infections, flatulence, headaches, heart disease, hives, indigestion, intestinal parasites, morning sickness and motion sickness, nausea, sports injuries and strokes to name a few.
It is a strong stimulant for the circulation with vasodilatory and anti-clotting effect, it helps with digestion and is a warming sedative and anti-inflammatory.
Another excellent stomach tonic, mint can help against nausea and vomiting and calm muscle spasms in the stomach. It promotes digestion and relieves trapped wind – even eases hiccoughs and acid stomach conditions. There are several different types of mint and all are rewarding.
Mint can kill many different types of microorganisms and is a popular ‘digestif’ drink in several cultures. Some people say it boosts mental alertness and it certainly helps as a coffee substitute. Menthol, an aromatic oil in mint can also help relieve headaches and congested airways.
Rich in flavonoids, this herb contains compounds that soothe and chemicals with antibacterial action. The essential oils have antiseptic and antispasmodic qualities. A tea made with the leaves helps with both stomach and bronchial problems. It can be used to help lower the blood pressure. Avoid when pregnant as this herb can stimulate the uterus.
An ideal window box or pot herb. Useful as culinary herb and valuable as a medicinal one. The fresh plant is rich in vitamin C and contains chlorophyll, it works as a breath freshener that is an ideal companion to garlic in food. Parsley is a diuretic that helps keep the body’s waterworks running smoothly. It has a tonic effect and makes a great addition to almost any meal, chopped or in sprigs.
Another useful anti-bacteriacide, it compliments a range of foods and has valuable medicinal actions. It has stimulant properties whether it is used in teas, baths, aromatically or as an oil. It is an antioxidant and it is used for asthma, headaches, to lift nervous depression, colds and colic.
The tea made from this plant is used for head colds, painful joints and nervous headaches. Fevers and forms of nervous excitement are calmed by the volatile oil and resin in this plant. It has antiseptic and antibiotic oils that make a good gargle for relaxing throat and tonsils and helping with laryngitis. Rubbing sage leaf on the teeth helps to clean them and strengthen the gums. It is used to calm night sweats, hot flushes and other symptoms associated with the menopause. It works to help digestive ailments and as a tonic for fatigue after illness.
Even the scent of thyme is a mood lifter. It contains flavonoids with a muscle relaxing quality and is used as an antispasmodic that helps with sluggish digestion. It has soothing qualities that help with sore throats and coughs and it can help to decongest from the effects of colds and ease bronchitis. The oil is antiseptic and is used to treat small cuts and bites. It increases blood flow to the skin to speed healing.