Herbal remedies have been used in traditional cultures for thousands of years to not only cure illness, but to maintain health. There are many herbs and spices that are readily available in your local grocery store, that won’t cost an arm and a leg, and that can provide you with significant health benefits. Here are my top 7 herbs and spices for health.
Parsley is a great detoxifier. It is so rich in chlorophyll that it was historically used in hospitals as an internal deodorant for patients (often why it’s served as a garnish with meals containing a lot of garlic!). It’s also great for alkalizing the body. Your body is either in a state of acidity or alkalinity and when it is in an acidic state is when diseases occur. So basically you don’t want to be in an acidic state.
You don’t need to chow down on the actual leaves though; you can juice parsley as part of a raw vegetable juice or you can steep it in a tea and get the full benefits of the B vitamins and vitamins A, C, and K it contains.
Garlic is one of the top dogs of herbal lore. It has been used for centuries and is probably one of the best known herbs to benefit health. Fresh garlic provides the best benefits and its antimicrobial affects have been well documented. If taken in large quantities, it can be irritating to the digestive tract and when applied directly to the skin can cause burns. Some people avoid garlic because of the offensive smell; so eat it at home, brush your teeth, and maybe don’t go anywhere sweaty for the rest of the day.
This spice, is a long-standing staple in Indian and Asian cooking and has far reaching medicinal properties. It can be purchased ground in the spice aisle or fresh in the produce section. I recommend checking the organic section or asking an employee to help you locate it. It has well researched benefits as an antibiotic and is popularly known as an anti-inflammatory.
It has high levels of manganese, which when combined with its curcumin, make it great for the cardiovascular system and lowering LDL cholesterol.
Sea salt could be seen as slightly controversial to include as a source of health. The difference between sea salt and table salt is essentially the natural iodine content. Many table salts do contain added iodine, but it doesn’t make much sense to process and refine a substance (taking the minerals out) just to artificially add them back in. I’ll just say I like my iodine natural.
Why is iodine important? Well there are many places where the soil is now deficient in iodine which causes hypothyroidism and goiter in the populations. For example, I live in what is called “the goiter belt” of southern Ontario. So, iodine is an especially important nutrient for people living in these areas or if you’re buying produce grown in these areas.
Ginger is known for its anti-nausea effects, but it has also been used effectively as an antibiotic for many intestinal disorders. It is also beneficial for providing a calming effect and has been called an antispasmodic. We currently live in a culture where were are constantly in a heightened state – always on alert for the next crisis. Ginger has the ability to provide respite from this state and allow bodies and minds to relax. I’ve used this as part of the base for my Soothing Ginger Soup but it can also be steeped in hot water to make ginger tea.
Cinnamon serves as a post-meal digestive aid and can be especially helpful if there are any feelings of indigestion or heartburn. Some of the popularity of cinnamon teas can be attributed to this. It has similar properties to ginger in that it does stimulate weak digestion. Cinnamon is also a known source of anti-oxidants and is used as an anti-inflammatory.
This herb/flower has not grown to the same level of popularity in North America as some of the other herbs, but it does have many beneficial properties. I first starting using it several years ago to brew tea in the evening as it is great for calming nerves and relaxing the body. It is also an anti-inflammatory and immune system booster. This one is a little bit harder to find. You may be able to locate it at an organic market, but you will be able to find it for a better price from a local Asian grocer.
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