Using Culinary Herbs as Medicine
Herbs are powerful medicinal plants. I give thanks for the herbal world every day, because these beautiful creations were made specifically to provide us with natural medicine and nutrition.
I recommend everyone use herbs as culinary additions in the kitchen, not only to add flavor to your food, but to nourish your body with natural and healing medicinals.
These herbs are most medicinal when used fresh, not dried. And yes that means the pre-dried culinary herbs you can buy in the store in those little glass jars contain very little, if any, medicinal value.
This does not necessarily mean they are not beneficial, however. They can surely add tons of flavor to your favorite dishes, and some do have a little bit of medicinal value left.
But the very best way to use herbs in the kitchen, is to buy them fresh from your local farmers’ market, fresh and organic from the grocery store, or if you can, fresh from your very own organic garden.
Some tips for buying culinary herbs:
*Buy organic…always. Herbs are very delicate and therefore highly susceptible to pesticides. If your herbs are not organic, they are absolutely loaded with chemicals. In addition, organic herbs keep the highest medicinal value.
*Be sure they are fresh and bright, as opposed to slightly wilted and brown. You can’t always find the perfect looking herbs, but be mindful to choose wisely. The brighter and fresher they are, the more medicinal qualities they possess.
*Have a recipe/recipes in mind before you buy. When you have an idea of how you will use your herbs, you will be less likely to waste them.
Some of my favorite culinary herbs:
*Basil- anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, rich in antioxidants, rich in vitamins A, K, and C, magnesium, iron, potassium and calcium
*Cilantro- anti-bacterial, antioxidants, helps with heavy metal detoxification, vitamins A, K and C, potassium, folate and beta carotene
*Oregano- anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, strengthens immune system, anti-inflammatory, antioxidants, helps with gastrointestinal upset, menstrual cramps, urinary tract irritation, contains fiber, iron, vitamin E, calcium, manganese and Vitamin K
*Thyme- highly anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory
*Mint- extremely high in anti-oxidants, soothes and cools stomach upset, anti-inflammatory, soothes sore throats, remedy for flatulence, anti-microbial, contains potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, Vitamin C, Vitamin A and iron
*Ginger root- anti-microbial, helps blood circulation by dilating blood vessels, helps with nausea, motion sickness and pain, anti-inflammatory, contains Vitamin B6, beta-carotene, curcumin (anti-inflammatory agent), fiber, magnesium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, folate, iron, vitamin C, zinc
*Cayenne pepper- helps blood circulation, anti-microbial, Vitamins A, E, C, B6, manganese, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, helps relieve pain and congestion
*Turmeric root- contains manganese, potassium, iron and Vitamin C, improves digestion by helping with bloating and fat digestion, highly anti-inflammatory, can help with skin and arthritic conditions, digestive issues and liver health; add black pepper for best absorption
I like this recipe for turmeric milk: http://nutritionstripped.com/turmeric-milk/
TIP: The only thing I would do differently is I would not heat all the ingredients together. When we heat herbs they lose valuable medicinal qualities. Instead, I would simply warm the milk only, then add everything to a blender, Vitamix or bullet and quickly blend together.
I have also consumed this drink cold, and it is just as delicious!
I hope this article was helpful. Stay tuned for future articles on how to use each of these herbs in your kitchen.