October 25, 2012

Use Everyday Herbs To Enhance Your Quality Life

by Katherine Dorie

Herbs have been used for centuries for health and enhancing the flavor of our cooking. But did you know that the culinary herbs you have in your kitchen could be used as your own herbal pharmacy?

It is always best to select the highest quality of herbs to ensure you of the greatest, freshness, flavor and nutrient value. The color should be vibrant not faded and the smell of the dried herb should be fresh, not old. In this issue we will look at a few of the hot and warming herbs in our kitchens. With cold and flu season just around the corner you want to make sure your cupboards are stocked with Cinnamon, Cayenne, Cloves and Ginger. It is no wonder that ginger and cinnamon are a favorite around the holidays they are not only festive but healthy too!

CINNAMON: Cinnamon is great in baking, on hot chocolate, in deserts but it also has a medicinal value. Its value is due in a large part to its volatile oil, which has anti-viral and stimulating properties, it is often taken with ginger. Cinnamon stimulates circulation especially to the fingers and toes. It is also a remedy for digestive problems like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea along with aching muscles. For colds and flu try making an infusion (tea) with it by using one teaspoon of powdered cinnamon, to one cup of hot water. Cover and steep for 10-15 minutes, drink 1/2 cup 2-3 times a day, Alternately make a decoction by using one or two cinnamon sticks, put in a pan with cold water, bring to a boil then turn down and simmer covered for 10-15 minutes, remove the cinnamon sticks. Add a touch of honey if needed.

GINGER: When we think of ginger we think gingerbread cookies, gingersnaps, and ginger candy. It is much more than just baking. Ginger is widely known for being highly effective for motion sickness, nausea and for indigestion and gas. It also works to stimulate circulation and helps blood flow to the surface helping poor circulation to hands and feet. It increases sweating, which helps to reduce the temperature in fevers. Ginger is also soothing for coughs, colds, flu and other respiratory problems. Both fresh and dried ginger can be used. Use fresh ginger in a infusion, grate a small amount and put in cup, add hot water. Cover and steep for 10-15 minutes, for fevers, headaches, and aching muscles. Use the dried ginger in capsules, for motion sickness and nausea, capsules (size 00) can be purchased at health food stores. Pour powdered ginger onto a plate and slide the capsules toward one another, scooping up the powder. When each half is full of powder, slide them together. Take 2-3 capsules 2 times a day.

CLOVES: I think most of us have heard of using cloves for toothaches but it is also used for digestive complaints such as gas, colic, and abdominal bloating. Cloves have anti-spasmodic properties that can ease coughs. Cloves can be stimulating to the mind (improving memory) and the body as a whole. It has also been used as an aphrodisiac (easy now), in India and the West. For colic or digestive complaints make an infusion (see cinnamon) with 2 cloves in one cup of hot water. Take 3 times a day.

CAYENNE: A favorite spice for hot chili, Mexican cooking, sauces and anything you want to add a little Heat to. Because of it's heating qualities it is a great remedy for poor circulation. It also improves blood flow to the hands and feet as well as the central organs. It helps to prevent infections from settling in the digestive system and will off set it if one is present. Use a pinch of cayenne in gargles for sore throats. For sore throats add a pinch of cayenne to 1 oz (25 ml) of lemon juice add water and honey, and use as a gargle or as a great drink for colds or flu's.

This is for information purposes only. This is not meant to diagnose or treat. Pregnant or lactating Women should always check with their health care practitioners before using any medicinal amounts of herbs. For more information on herbs check out your local libraries, herbal practitioners in your area or your local College for classes.

Katherine Dorie has a background in horticulture. She has used herbs for over 15 years, and has worked in the herbal field for a number of years. You can visit her at http://www.aokmarketing.com/kdorie (now defunct) or write to her at lugana3@hotmail.com.