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Posts Tagged ‘antispasmodic’

Lemongrass 1Because of our temperate climate here in the Southeast we are fortunate to be able to garden almost year round.  One plant that grows extremely well in the South is Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citrates).  This hardy perennial grass thrives on neglect yet adds beauty and contrast to any garden.

Known mostly as a culinary herb in Asian cooking, Lemongrass is also a wonderful addition to any medicinal herb garden.  If you have ever had the opportunity to smell Lemongrass you will have noticed that it is quite aromatic.  Aromatic herbs get their scent from their high content of volatile oils.  Lemongrass essential oil is derived from the plant by distillation and is used extensively in Aromatherapy.

Aromatic herbs like Lemongrass are warming and dispersive which means they spread out through the system, warming things up and getting things moving.  Because aromatic herbs get things moving they are considered stimulating.  If you think about an area that has been bound up and where very little is moving (stagnation) you can imagine that area will feel tense.  A good example would be in the first stages of a cold when the body is tense.  However, once the tension is dispelled or dispersed the area once again feels relaxed.  Therefore, aromatic herbs are also considered to be relaxing.

When one is suffering with accumulated gas aromatic herbs like Lemongrass help dispel the gas and relax the area; this action which occurs is referred to as Carminative.  Aromatic herbs also help to reduce spasms or are “antispasmodic”.

Aromatic herbs are both antiseptic and antimicrobial (inhibits the growth of organisms such as bacteria and viruses).  Because aromatics contain volatile oils which irritate tissues the body wants to flush them out to prevent further irritation.  This flushing of oils occurs through urination or exhalation making aromatic herbs like Lemongrass extremely beneficial for conditions associated with the respiratory or urinary systems.  Aromatics also tend to draw energy upward and outward which would also explain their affinity for the respiratory system.

Some of the many medicinal benefits of Lemongrass include:

  • Antimicrobial (kills or inhibits microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites)
  • Mildly diuretic
  • Promotes the digestion of fats
  • Effective insect repellent
  • Antioxidant
  • Contains various vitamins and minerals to include Vitamin A and C, Calcium, Potassium and Magnesium
  • Urinary and Respiratory conditions

Spicy Lemongrass Cold and Flu Tea:

COLD AND FLU TEA

16 oz water

1 tbsp dried (2 tbsp fresh) Lemongrass

3 thin slices of fresh ginger

6 cloves

3 pepper corns

6 Cardamom seeds

1 tsp fennel

Honey (optional)

Place the herbs into cool water and bring to a boil.  Turn down the heat and simmer the herbs with the lid on for approximately 20 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by half.  Strain off herbs. Experiment with other herbs and spices such as mint, basil and allspice for variations. Add a smidge of honey, sit back and enjoy.

Note:  If you find this tea a bit drying you can add moistening herbs such as Licorice or Marshmallow Root.

 Storage:

  • May be dried and used later in tea preparations
  • Refrigerated fresh in a sealed container for up to 3 weeks
  • Fresh stalks may be frozen for up to 6 months and then thawed when ready to use

Cooking:   Lemongrass combines well with peaches, pears and other fruits, ginger, chillies, cucumber, cinnamon, other aromatic herbs and coconut milk.

For those of you in the Southeast perhaps consider growing yourself some Lemongrass.  Although we don’t hear or see much on the medicinal benefits of Lemongrass, it is certainly a wonderful addition to your medicine cabinet and herb garden.

© Natalie Vickery 2012

Disclaimer:  In order to continue posting quality content I must rely on your support.  Some of the links found in this post contain affiliate links which I do receive a small compensation for when purchased through my website.

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Despite the myths it really does get cold here in North Florida.  So, my little herbal apprentice and I decided that today would be a great day to build a fire and enjoy a nice warm cup of Chai.  The word Chai actually means tea and usually refers to Masala Chai which originated in India and is a combination of aromatic herbs and spices. 

From what I understand there is not a specific recipe for Chai and it varies from family to family and country to country.  Some recipes call for the use of black tea and others for green.  I have a recipe which was passed on to me through my family which includes cinnamon, black and green cardamom, fennel, clove, milk, sugar and black tea.  Most Masala Chai recipes I have seen include cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns, ginger, cloves, star anise and black tea.

Each time I make Chai I put a new twist on it by adding various herbs and spices that I might not have added to the previous brew.  The herbs and spices in Chai not only make for a very flavorful tea, but they also have health benefits and are often used for colds, flu and various digestive disturbances. 

Most of the herbs found in a traditional Masala Chai recipe are Carminatives.  Carminatives are herbs which help to relieve flatulence, griping and help to soothe the gut wall.  Some of the other properties associated with these herbs are antispasmodic, expectorant, astringent, analgesic, and antiseptic.

So without further ado here is my standard recipe for Masala Chai:

1 Cinnamon stick

1 or 2 Green cardamom pods

 2  Black cardamom pods

1 tbsp Fennel seed

1 tbsp Anise seed

6 cloves

4 cups of water

Place herbs and spices in boiling water and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes.  Strain and serve.  Sweeten to taste with honey.  Serves 4

Now, that is my basic recipe and I am a “pinch and smidge” kinda cook.  I’m notorious for not using a recipe and just winging it.  It certainly makes it more exciting that way.  However, my smidge may vary from yours so you’ll just have to experiment.  Other variations I use include adding Astragalus, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, black tea, milk, burdock root or licorice root.  It really is a matter of preference and what tastes good to you. 

You could begin by using a basic recipe such as:

4 whole cloves
2 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
3 cups water
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons Black tea

Add spices and water to a pan and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and allow it to simmer for 5 – 10 minutes.  You can leave it to steep a bit longer if you prefer a stronger tea.  Add milk and sugar and simmer for about 3 minutes.  Add black tea, cover and steep 3 minutes.  Strain and serve.  Serves 4.

The key to Chai is to be creative and use your senses to guide you.  Taste and smell each and every spice allowing you to pick and choose what appeals to you.  Have fun with it and enjoy!

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A number of people around me have had some sort of crud which starts in the upper respiratory system and moves down into the lungs developing into a cough. Because of the severity of the coughs and congestion they have experienced I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about some of the herbs that are used for the respiratory system.

Pleurisy Root (Asclepia tuberosa) – Is considered a lung tonic which has been traditionally used for conditions such as bronchitis, pleurisy, fevers, dry cough, pneumonia and asthma. Pleurisy root is considered and expectorant and helps to break up phlegm and reduces inflammation.

Marshmallow Root (Althea officinalis)- Traditionally used for dry irritable coughs, pleurisy, bronchial asthma, whooping-cough and congestion.

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) – Mullein was traditionally smoked as an aid in certain respiratory conditions. Indicated for use when there is a dry irritable cough as it will help to moisten and lubricate. May also be beneficial for conditions including asthma, pleurisy, croup, emphysema and bronchitis which often reoccurs.

Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) – Coltsfoot is also an herb that has been traditionally smoked to help reduce respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, general congestion and spastic coughs.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) – This is an herb which is commonly found in most peoples spice cabinets. Thyme is a great herb to have around the house. Not only does it have antiseptic properties, but Thyme is also an antispasmodic and an expectorant making it beneficial for breaking up mucous and clearing congestion.

Elecampane (Inula helenium) – Elecampane is indicated for asthma, wheezing, shortness of breath, pneumonia and helps to increase expectoration as opposed to suppressing the cough.

There are a number of other fabulous herbs for the respiratory system which have not been covered here. However, being familiar with some of the herbs listed here that can benefit your family and help relieve their respiratory issues is indispensable.

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Ginger RootI would like to introduce you my friend Ginger. What a shapely gal she is. The aroma of the inner flesh to me is just so soothing yet the flavor excites and stimulates. This week has been all about Ginger. She has been center stage for me this week playing a role in my homemade ginger ale and my crystallized ginger. The crystallized ginger turned out yummy. The process took some time but it was definitely worth it. I’m still waiting on the verdict on the ginger ale. I just put it into the refrigerator to stop the yeast from working. I will keep you posted on the outcome.

While we are on the subject of ginger I thought I would tell you a little about her:

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Energetics: Pungent, sweet, warming/drying

Organ/Meridian affected: heart, lung, spleen, kidneys and stomach

Properties: anti-inflammatory, warming, aperitif, carminative, stimulant, stomachic, diaphoretic, antidepressant, expectorant, antiemetic, analgesic, rubefacient, counter-irritant, analgesic, antioxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitussive, and tonic.

Parts used: root

Ginger has a long history as a tonic herb used for various ailments. This native to Southeast Asia has an affinity for the digestive system and may help to relieve nausea as well as diminishing gas and to quell motion sickness. Ginger is a mover and helps to improve blood circulation while it’s warmth moves throughout the periphery. Ginger root acts as an anti-inflammatory and can be applied topically to benefit sore muscles and some forms of arthritis. Ginger also acts as an expectorant and can help move mucus out of the lungs.

During cold and flu season Ginger is a wonderful ally. A tea can be made with 1/2 teaspoon of the root to 8 ounces of water. Allow the tea to steep for 20 minutes and strain. Honey and lemon may be added for additional benefits.

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