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Posts Tagged ‘ginger’

I am an avid gardener and find that being in the garden really helps me to relax.  There is a great sense of satisfaction that I get from growing my own food and medicine.  We often sit at the table marveling over the fact that….”Wow…we grew this”.  I guess you could say it doesn’t take much to impress us.

There are a lot of wonderfully exotic herbs out there that are used medicinally and I have no aversion to using them.  However, there are also plants that can be easily grown in your garden and are truly magical and healing.  Many of these plants you may find in your spice cabinet and you may already be adding them to your food.

If you are just starting out with herbs I think it is so beneficial to attempt to grow some herbs so that you can observe them, taste them, use them as medicine and get a real feel for the plant.  Some really great herbs to start with are some of the culinary herbs that you find in the grocery store such as Thyme, Basil, Bay, Oregano, Mints, and Rosemary.  All of the herbs can be grown either in the garden or in containers if you are limited on space.  Depending on where you are located some other herbs which are easy to grow include Aloe, Chamomile and Calendula.  If you are interested in growing your own medicinal garden check out local resources to see what will grow in your area.

Most culinary herbs we use are very Aromatic.  Aromatic herbs are warming and dispersive which means they spread out through the system, warm things up and get things moving.  If you think about the feeling or effect you get when you inhale the fragrance from an aromatic plant it opens up your head and your respiratory system; that is the effect of dispersive and this effect occurs throughout the body as well.  The movement provided by aromatics increases digestion and peristalsis along with relieving the pain associated with cramps.  Because aromatics alleviate this resistance thereby reducing pain they are often referred to as Antispasmodics.  By reducing tension or resistance aromatics are also considered to be tonics for the nervous system and relaxing nervines.  Most aromatics are also antimicrobials meaning they are effective for a host of infections due to bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Most culinary herbs are also carminatives.  Carminatives are aromatic herbs which help to improve digestion, relieve gas, bloating and cramping.  Many carminative herbs contain volatile oils which help to disperse or create movement freeing up any stagnation that has occurred therefore allowing the body to begin its healing.

BASIL (Ocymum basilium)

An herb used for centuries in both culinary and medicinal applications, Basil is said to be both cooling and heating in its actions. Traditionally, it has been used in instances of melancholy (depression), indigestion, and for insomnia related to nervous tension. Basil is also used for conditions ranging from colds, fevers, kidney and lung troubles.

Remedies using Basil

Make a tea using basil for headaches, indigestion, fevers, colds, flu, menstrual cramps, nausea, and vomiting.

  • Apply as a poultice for bacterial infections and burns.
  • Crush leaves and apply the juice topically to help with the itch of insect bites and inflammation of the skin.
  • Use as a steam for head colds.
  • Mix the juice of the leaves with honey for coughs.

BAY (Laurus nobilis)

Many people know about adding Bay leaves to their foods while cooking.  However, many people may not know that Bay is not just added to food to impart its flavor to the dish.  Bay leaves help to prevent gas and indigestion and were originally added to food as an aid to digestion.

Bay Oil for Arthritis

  • Heat bay leaves in oil on low heat for several hours.  Strain off the oil and apply the oil to swellings, sprains, or achy, arthritic or rheumatic joints.

 CAYENNE (Capsicum anuum)

Cayenne is an herb which is high in Vitamin K making it a natural blood coagulant. With this said it can staunch the bleeding from an open wound almost immediately by just applying it topically.  Cayenne is also a wonderful digestive aid which enhances the metabolism as well as increasing circulation.

Cayenne Liniment for Arthritis:

Add one ounce of Cayenne to one quart of rubbing alcohol and shake well.  Allow the mixture to sit for 2 – 3 weeks.  Apply this liniment to affected joints.

CAUTIONS: Do not get Cayenne in the eyes. Be especially careful if you wear contacts.

DILL (Anethum graveolus)

Traditionally used for colic and gas, Dill is a great herb to grow in your medicinal garden. Dill is an annual and will self seed itself.  Another use for Dill is that it may help stimulate milk in lactating mothers.

GINGER (Zingiber officinale)

Ginger has warming, stimulating, and antispasmodic properties. It is used frequently for stomach cramps, colds, poor circulation, motion and morning sickness. Ginger is also a wonderful herb for menstrual irregularities and discomfort and helps to promote circulation. Ginger can help to relax the smooth muscles thereby helping to alleviate menstrual cramps.

Remedies using Ginger:

Cough/Cold/Flu –  Add a thumb size piece of ginger root to one quart of water and bring to a boil.  Simmer with lid on at low heat for 30 minutes.  Let the mixture cool.  Strain and drink ½ – 1 cup as desired.  May sweeten with honey.  (Do not use for a dry unproductive cough)

Oregano (Origanum vulgare)

Because of its calming action Oregano is a wonderful herb to help reduce tension and nervousness.  Oregano as a tea is also very beneficial for digestion, improving appetite, to relieve flatulence and bloating. When the leaves of the Oregano plant are crushed they can be applied topically to help ease rheumatic, muscle and joint pain, itching, swelling, and to ease the sting of a bee.

PARSLEY (Petroselinum crispum)

Parsley is an outstanding herbal diuretic and may benefit those suffering from bladder and kidney problems. Also high in vitamins and minerals, Parsley is a good herb for the immune system. Eaten or drunk as a tea, Parsley is a great herb to have on hand for stomach cramps associated with gas.

PEPPERMINT (Mentha piperita)

Peppermint is another herb that is great to have on hand in the kitchen as a digestive aid. Not only is Peppermint great for nausea and flatulence but it can help to ease the stomach cramps associated with colic.

 Remedies using Peppermint:

Nausea – Steep 1 tbsp of mint leaves in 1 pint of boiling water for 20 minutes.  Allow to cool and sip on the tea as needed.

ROSEMARY (Rosmarinus officinalis)

A potent antiseptic, antioxidant, and antispasmodic useful in treating circulatory conditions, eczema, rheumatism, stiff muscles, Alzheimer’s, cancer, indigestion, and irritable bowel syndrome.

SAGE (Salvia officinalis)

Sage is a handy herb to have on hand during cold and flu season. A tea made with sage and used as a gargle can benefit someone with a sore throat. There is some research indicating that sage may help to reduce blood sugar levels and therefore benefit those with diabetes.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

This very aromatic herb can be used internally or externally and is a very powerful antimicrobial herb.  Because of it’s highly aromatic essential oils Thyme can be quite beneficial for treating respiratory troubles such as asthma, coughs, infections and allergies. Thyme also contains strong antifungal properties which make it useful for treating nail fungus, athlete’s foot, and yeast infections.

Thyme and Honey Cough Syrup

Place 3-4 tablespoons of dried Thyme in a pot along with a pint of water.  Bring herbs and water to a boil, remove from heat and allow to cool.  Mix the infusion with 1 cup of honey.  Use 1 tsp as needed for coughs.  Keep refrigerated.

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I have to admit I have become a compulsive label reader.  So… just out of curiosity I read the label of a children’s pain reliever and fever reducer.  I won’t mention the name, but I will tell you that it rhymes with Mylenol.  I was absolutely blown away by what was in this over the counter drug that is given to millions of children each year.

Anhydrous citric acid, butylparaben, FD&C Red#40, flavors, glycerin, high fructose corn syrup, microcrystalline cellulose and carboxymethyl cellulose sodium, propylene glycol, purified water, sodium benzoate, sorbitol solution, sucralose, xanthan gum.

Just looking at these ingredients makes me cringe….what are we feeding our children?  According to the FDA, “Most drugs prescribed for children have not been tested in children.”  The FDA also goes on to say that, “…only about 20 percent of drugs approved by the FDA were labeled for pediatric use. By necessity, doctors have routinely given drugs to children “off label,” which means the drug has not been approved for use in children…”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel real comfortable with those facts.  With that said I’m here to tell you that there are a lot of wonderful herbs that can be used with kids in lieu of over the counter or prescription drugs and they are much safer and very effective.  Even many of the spices you may have in your kitchen cabinet can be very effective when it comes to treating acute conditions.

Some wonderful herbs and spices to have around the kitchen include:

  • Garlic –  This herb is one of the most valuable herbs you will ever have around the house.  Often called, “Poor Man’s Penicillin”, garlic is by far much more effective and safer than any antibiotic on the market.  Garlic is highly effective against both viral and bacterial infections and can be your first line of defense against antibiotic resistant infections. 

Remedies using Garlic:

Asthma (acute) – Simmer two cloves of garlic for 20 minutes and drink a glass once the mixture is cool.

Congestion – Soak a 1 pound of garlic in a quart of boiling water for 10 or 12 hours. Strain out the garlic and mix the liquid with 4 pounds of honey and bottle. Take 1 teaspoon for congestion.

Ear Infection – Chop up several cloves of garlic and soak them in olive oil for a minimum of 30 minutes or overnight. Strain out the garlic and warm the oil to body temperature. Place several drops in the infected ear. Also treat the none infected ear.

  • Ginger – Not only is ginger a very effective antibacterial herb, but it is also a very good expectorant, pain reliever, circulatory stimulant, immune stimulant and diaphoretic (increases circulation to skin).  Ginger is often used for motion sickness as well as nausea associated with chemotherapy or morning sickness.

Remedies using Ginger:

Cough/Cold/Flu –  Add a thumb size piece of ginger root to one quart of water and bring to a boil.  Simmer with lid on at low heat for 30 minutes.  Let the mixture cool.  Strain and drink ½ – 1 cup as desired.  May sweeten with honey.  (Do not use for a dry unproductive cough)

 

  • Honey – This sweet treat is loaded with vitamins and minerals and is like a first aid kit all rolled up into one remedy.  Honey is extremely effective taken as a preventative or during the course of colds, flu and respiratory infections.  Honey is also a very effective wound healer if applied topically to burns, ulcers and various other skin afflictions. Caution:  Do not give to children under 1 year of age.
  • Sage –  Often found in most kitchen cabinets this culinary herb is a wonderful antiseptic/antibacterial herb and can be applied topically for infected wounds or taken internally as a tea for various conditions such as sore throats, respiratory infections and dysentery.
  • Cayenne – This hot and spicy herb can be used topically to stop bleeding, to reduce inflammation and as a counter-irritant which may help relieve pain.  Internally Cayenne is taken as a digestive aid, anticoagulant and circulatory stimulant.
  • Cinnamon – There is some research to indicate that cinnamon may be effective in helping to regulate blood sugar and is a wonder addition to any diet.  As a carminative (alleviates gas/bloating) Cinnamon may be useful for colic, cramping, nausea, flatulence and vomiting.  Cinnamon is also astringent and may be effective in acute cases of diarrhea.
  • Anise – Not only good for the digestive system, but anise has also been used as an expectorant for chest congestion and mucus.

Anise may be used in the following applications:

–   Seeds may be chewed to help relieve indigestion or as a breath freshener.

–   A compress made from the tea can be used topically to help relieve pain.

–   The seeds can be used to make a syrup or tea which may be beneficial for coughs.

–   A tea made with Anise may help to stimulate the flow of mother’s milk.

–   Taken as a tea it may help to remedy colic, flatulence, cramp/griping, bloating and indigestion.

–   A nice addition to herbal recipes to enhance flavor.

  • Clove – Because of its pain relieving action, Clove has traditionally been used as a popular folk remedy for toothaches. Clove is also known to naturally relieve inflammation and is antifungal therefore making it potentially beneficial for parasitic infections.

CAUTIONS: Do not give to children under 5 and always dilute clove oil in water or oil.

  • Basil – An herb used for centuries in both culinary and medicinal applications, Basil is said to be both cooling and heating in its actions. Traditionally, it has been used in instances of melancholy (depression), indigestion, and for insomnia related to nervous tension. Basil is also used for conditions ranging from colds, fevers, kidney and lung troubles.

Remedies using Basil include:

–   Make a tea using basil for headaches, indigestion, fevers, colds, flu, menstrual

cramps, nausea, and vomiting.

–   Apply as a poultice for bacterial infections and burns.

–   Crush leaves and apply the juice topically to help with the itch of insect bites and inflammation of the skin.

–   Use as a steam for head colds.

–   Mix the juice of the leaves with honey for coughs.

The list of beneficial herbs found in the spice cabinet are endless.  Just about all culinary herbs can be used for various conditions which range from digestive issues to respiratory ailments.  Why rely on over the counter drugs which are loaded with various synthetic chemicals when you can use natural alternatives which are very safe and effective and have been used for centuries.

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What is Heliocobacter pylori

Heliocobacter pylori is a gram-negative bacteria and perhaps the most common of all bacterial infections.  The H. pylori bacterium, as it is often referred to, lives in the lining of the stomach and closely resembles normal epithelial cells.  Because of its spiral shape, the bacteria can literally drill into the lining of the stomach.  Hidden within the mucous lining of the stomach the H. pylori bacteria is able to evade immune cells, which cannot reach it through the stomach lining.  H. Pylori is also able to produce a cloud of acid neutralizing chemicals, which helps to ensure its survival.

 How is H. Pylori Contracted

Researchers are unclear as to the true source of the helicobacter pylori bacteria, however it is more common in areas where there are unsanitary living conditions and over crowding.  Some speculate that the bacteria might be transmitted through human contact as it has a tendency to run in families.  The h. pylori bacteria is also thought to enter the body via the digestive system through eating contaminated food and water.

 Effects of Exposure:

Often times persons infected with the helicobacter pylori bacteria will have no apparent symptoms.  However, complications such as gastritis, peptic ulcers, and gastric cancer are associated with the bacteria.

Diagnosing H. Pylori:

One of the simplest ways to diagnose H. pylori is through a test, which analyzes the breath of the patient.  The patient is administered a dose of radioactive C14 by either ingesting a capsule or by having it administered in water.  The patient is then asked to blow into an apparatus, which analyzes the exhaled carbon dioxide for traces of C14.  If  C14 is detected it indicates the patient has an active infection of the Heliocobacter pylori bacteria present in their stomach.

Another method would be through a blood test which checks for antibodies, which react to the bacteria.  This test, however is not extremely accurate because it can only determine if there has been prior exposure to the bacteria, and cannot indicate if the bacteria is currently active.

The last test is performed through samples or biopsies of the lining of the stomach.  A gastroscopy is performed by inserting a fiber optic tube into the mouth, along the esophagus and into the stomach.  While visually inspecting the stomach and duodenum, doctors are able to take biopsies, which they will later test for the bacteria.

Possible Remedies for H. Pylori:

Garlic: (Allium sativum)

Garlic, which is often called, “Poor man’s penicillin” in folk medicine may prove to be a staunch ally when it comes to H. Pylori bacteria.  Constituents in garlic show positive effects against both gram-positive and negative bacteria.  Researchers have concluded that, “The incidence of stomach cancer is lower in populations with a high intake of Allium vegetables.”  Also, some antibiotic resistant strains of H. Pylori are susceptible to garlic. (1)  Suggested dose is 1-3 cloves of raw garlic per day.

Cranberries:  (Vaccinium macrocarpon)

Research conducted at the Institute of Technology in Haifa Israel indicated that the consumption of cranberry juice inhibits H. pylori from adhering to the stomach mucosa.  Other studies suggest that by consuming cranberry juice on a regular basis it may actually suppress the H. pylori bacteria possibly preventing ulcers and perhaps even gastric cancer. (2)

Ginger: (Zingiber officinale)

According to Dr. James Duke, “ginger contains 11 compounds that have demonstrated anti-ulcer effects.”  Dr. Duke also suggests that a combination of honey and garlic also provides the additional benefit derived from the honeys antibacterial properties.

Licorice Root: (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

Numerous studies indicate the Licorice root may be an effective treatment against H. pylori.  (3)  However, for those that suffer with hypertension, Licorice may be contraindicated as it has a tendancy to increase blood pressure.  For those that are affected there is deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) which is basically licorice root which has had the constituent glycyrrhizin removed.  Although DGL has been modified there is still evidence to suggest that it is effective against H. Pylori.

Cabbage: (Brassica oleracea var. capitata)

Cabbage juice has been a traditional remedy in folk medicine throughout the ages.  This remedy might not be too far off the mark.  According to an article published in the Western Journal of Medicine, cabbage juice may be effective in healing peptic ulcers much more quickly than conventional treatments.  (4)  Suggested dose is 1 quart of raw cabbage juice per day.

References:

1.  Protection against Helicobacter pylori and other bacterial infections by garlic. Sivam GP. Bastyr University, Research Institute, Kenmore, WA 98028, USA.

2.  A high molecular mass constituent of cranberry juice inhibits helicobacter pylori adhesion to human gastric mucus. Burger O, Ofek I, Tabak M, Weiss EI, Sharon N, Neeman I. Faculty of Food Engineering and Biotechnology, Institute of Technology, Technion, Haifa, Israel.

3.  Anti-Helicobacter pylori flavonoids from licorice extract.  Fukai T, Marumo A, Kaitou K, Kanda T, Terada S, Nomura T.  Department of Physico-chemical Analysis, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Toho University, 2-2-1 Miyama, Funabashi, Chiba 274-8510, Japan. fukai@phar.toho-u.ac.jp

4.  RAPID HEALING OF PEPTIC ULCERS IN PATIENTS RECEIVING FRESH CABBAGE JUICE., Calif Med. 1949 January; 70(1): 10–15.

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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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Do you find it difficult to get the recommended requirements of fruits and vegetables everyday?  I must admit that although I try to eat healthy somedays are better than others.  There are hundreds of green drink powders on the market and I’m sure that they may be of some benefit.  I must admit that I have tasted some of them and they can be really disgusting.  Food should be our medicine and by that I mean whole living foods.  I wanted to find a way to get more fruits and veggies into my diet so I started looking for recipes.  I have a hard time eating breakfast in the morning so I really enjoy having a shake instead of something else.   I came across this particular recipe and decided to give it a try.  I absolutely love it.  The texture is somewhat pulpy, but the flavor is just so fresh.  I would like to give credit to the author of the recipe, but I don’t recall now where I got it. 

Loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber and digestive enzymes and provides approximately 6 servings of fruits and vegetables.

2 Apples (cored)

2 Cups fresh spinach

1/2 cup chopped parsley

2-4 celery sticks

1 slice of fresh ginger root (thumbnail size) (may keep in freezer)

1 lemon (juice only)

1 med cucumber

1 cup pineapple juice

1 cup of ice

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Serves 2

Optional Ingredients:

2nd cucumber

Raw carrot

1 banana

I hope you will give this recipe a try and make it your own.  Experiment with it and see what works for you.

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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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