By Christina Carreau BA, ND
Hair loss, digestive complaints, sore joints, sugar cravings, cough remedies…who knew you had treatments for all these things in your spice cabinet? This is a light read about some herbal home remedies for treating common ailments. Not only are these effective treatments but they are cheap, easy and for the most part delicious!
1) Rosemary is a stimulant to both the nervous and circulatory systems. It also has a calming and nourishing effect on the digestive system and therefore can help ease indigestion and stomach upset. It can also be used to enhance mood and reduce depression. Applied topically it helps stimulate hair follicles and is therefore useful in the treatment of hair loss (essential oil is most effective for this purpose).
Preparation: To make a tea, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1-2 tsp of dried herb and steep for 15 minutes in a covered container. Drink warm. Repeat up to three times/day. For hair treatment add a drop or two of essential oil to your shampoo or conditioner and massage into scalp for a minute before rinsing. Repeat regularly.
2) Cinnamon is useful for regulating blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity. With diabetes and obesity on the rise this is a very affordable and easy to use treatment.
Preparation: Sprinkle 1 tsp of cinnamon on your breakfast or have a cup of cinnamon tea throughout the day. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tsp of dried herb. Drink warm. Do not exceed 1 tsp/day.
3) Thyme is antimicrobial and antiseptic. It is great for treating upper respiratory infections, including laryngitis, tonsillitis and bronchitis. It is also very soothing for sore throats and coughs and may be helpful for asthma as well. This is a great herb to have on hand during cold and flu season.
Preparation: To make a tea, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2 tsp of dried herb and steep in a covered container for 15 minutes. Drink warm. Repeat up to three times/day.
4) Ginger is an effective stimulant for peripheral circulation and is therefore a great herb to use in the winter. Keep your hands and feet warm by drinking ginger tea. It is also effective in the treatment of motion sickness, nausea, digestive complaints and for easing menstrual cramps.
Preparation: To make an infusion, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tsp of fresh ginger root and steep for 5 minutes. (Consult a healthcare practitioner before use if you are pregnant, on blood thinning medication, have gallstones or a peptic ulcer.)
5) Fennel is an excellent stomach and intestinal remedy that relieves flatulence and colic and also improves digestion and appetite. It can also be used to ease coughs and bronchitis. It has also been shown to be effective at increasing milk production in nursing mothers.
Preparation: For an infusion, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1-2 tsp of slightly crushed seeds and steep in a covered container for 10 minutes. Repeat up to 3 times/day. To ease flatulence take a ½ cup before meals.
6) Celery Seed has anti-inflammatory properties and can be an effective treatment for joint pain including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout. It has also been shown to be an effective urinary antiseptic and inhibits the growth of some strains of bacteria that are known to cause bladder infections.
Preparation: To make an infusion, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1-2 tsp of freshly crushed seeds. Steep in a covered container for 10 minutes. Drink warm or cool. Repeat up to 3 times/day.
7) Parsley is an effective diuretic that helps the body eliminate excess water. It is a great treatment for water retention caused by hot weather, hormone imbalance, or high sodium diets. (Fluid retention can also be a sign of more serious illness so speak to your doctor if the cause of your water retention is unknown). Parsley is also high in Vitamin C and therefore great for cold and flu season.
Preparation: For an infusion, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2 tsp of fresh herb or 1 tsp of dried herb. Steep in a covered container for 10 minutes. Repeat up to 3 times/day. Do not use during pregnancy.
There are a number of other herbs with healing properties, but I will leave it here for now and revisit this topic again in the future. In the meantime, why not make yourself a cup of tea and kick up your heels for a moment of delicious and nutritious relaxation.