Food For Thought: Herbal Remedies

I love how nature provides us with the tools we need to help keep our bodies strong and healthy. Herbs are one of those tools. For thousands of years, people have depended on fresh herbs to heal everything from heartburn to cancer. Most all of the expensive prescriptions we get from our local pharmacy are derived from the ancient wisdom passed down from herbalists.

So why all the hype and mixed messages in the media about herbs? Simple. Follow the money, honey. Now, don’t get me wrong. Modern medicine certainly has its place and you know I am a firm believer in taking your medicine. But for some common ailments and some preventative measures herbs are just what the doctor ordered. A word of caution, many herbs do have drug-like qualities and should be avoided if you are taking certain medications or planning surgery. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist to be on the safe side.

When it comes to herbs fresh is best. Growing your own is a fun and fulfilling way to ensure that your herbs are of the highest quality and organic. Here are some common herbs and a list of the medicinal qualities that may help:

– Cayenne Pepper — may relieve stomach aches and gas, possible cancer-fighting benefits
– Cinnamon — may help level blood sugar, reduce triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, lower pain
– Cloves — anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, antioxidant, relieve some asthma symptoms
– Garlic — immune system booster, antibiotic effect
– Ginger — eliminates gas, controls intestinal tract issues, alleviates motion sickness
– Nutmeg — may control anxiety, joint pain, lower blood pressure, improve concentration
– Oregano — antioxidant, pathogen inhibitor
– Peppermint — ease stomach problems, heartburn, indigestion, nausea
– Turmeric — anti-inflammatory, antioxidant

This is just a small list. There are herbs that may relieve menstrual pain, or headaches, strengthen bones, and fight arthritis. But remember, just like with any foods, some people can be sensitive or allergic to certain herbs. Watch for side effects. With a little research and some common sense I think you’ll enjoy experimenting with herbs and using what nature has provided to help keep us healthy.

Speaking of experimenting, finding a good way to use these herbs isn’t hard. The obvious answer is cooking with them but you can also make your own essential oils, use them in teas, and even eat them fresh. A sprig of peppermint after a spicy dish is a great way to fight that late night heartburn.

One of my favorite herbs is garlic. It’s easy to cook and is full of natural immunities to help keep the seasonal onslaught of flu and colds at bay. Roasted garlic can be used in a thousand different ways from spreads to salads to seasoning up almost any dish. Here’s a great recipe on how to roast your own garlic.

Roasted Garlic

Remove outer peel from garlic cloves and place in a baking dish. Drizzle each garlic clove with olive oil, sprinkle with thyme, black pepper and some sea salt. Cover and bake for one hour at 350 degrees. Uncover and bake for about 15 more minutes. You can do a huge batch then store in a sealed container in your fridge for use later.

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