Herbs and spices not only add flavor to dishes, they are also effective in preventing and treating many illnesses. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners and herbalists have in-depth knowledge about hundreds of herbs for prevention of and treatment of diseases. However, there are a few herbs that are considered safe and are good for the everyday kinds of afflictions. Any home wanting a more natural path to health should consider having the herbs listed below on hand.
Ginger for Nausea and Indigestion
Ginger is a great spice to treat nausea. This includes nausea from motion sickness, morning sickness, chemotherapy, or after surgery. Ginger is also good for indigestion. Ginger has other beneficial benefits such as reducing inflammation and fighting harmful bacteria. Ginger is native to southern Asia and is in the same family as cardamom and turmeric.
Candied ginger is usually more palatable for nausea than other forms. Pickled ginger, the kind found in sushi, is also an easy way to eat ginger. Many people find ginger sodas comforting to the stomach. Fresh ginger can be grated or chopped and added to vegetables, oatmeal, salad, and other foods. There are many recipes using ginger.
Chamomile to Reduce Anxiety and Improve Sleep
Chamomile is excellent for relaxation, reducing anxiety, and improving sleep. Chamomile has also been used to ease colic in babies and as a rinse to soothe mouth sores. Chamomile is usually drunk as a tea and is readily available. If possible, look for teas with whole leaves to get the maximum benefit and taste, or buy chamomile flowers to make your own tea.
Search for recipes online for soothing chamomile and ginger popsicles. Chamomile flowers can be chopped and mixed with butter for a delicious spread. Place a handful of chamomile in a white sock, tie off the top, and add to warm bath water along with a cup of baking soda for a soothing herbal skin bath.
Lavender Essential Oil for Minor Burns
Lavender essential oil is one of the few essential oils that can be applied directly to the skin. So, it is a good remedy for minor burns. Do not use essential oils around the eyes or on other membranes. Modern aromatherapy began with lavender essential oil and a burn. In the early 1900s French chemist, René-Maurice Gattefossé was badly burned in his family’s perfume business. He used lavender essential oil to heal burns on his hands.
Inhaling lavender essential oil is also recommended for migraines and helping with sleep. Inhaling lavender essential oil too frequently or inhaling too much of it can have the opposite effect. So, use it prudently. Dried lavender can be used to freshen drawers by placing some in a piece of material and tying the top closed with ribbon.
Calendula for Bites and Cuts
Calendula is known for its skin healing properties and is excellent for insect bites, scrapes, cuts, and rashes including diaper rash. Pot marigold is another name for this skin-loving herb but should not be confused with French marigold. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, calendula is known as Jin Zhan Ju. Calendula is native to northern Mediterranean area and got its name because it blooms once a month or on the new moon. It is now cultivated in many areas of the world. Calendula has antibacterial properties. Calendula Ointment and cream are sold widely.
Infused calendula oil is easy to make and can be used for skin conditions. It can also be the base for lotions and balms. Use dried calendula flowers to ensure there is no moisture that could cause bacterial growth. To make calendula oil, fill a pint glass jar about ½ full of dried calendula flowers. Add a carrier oil that has a long shelf life, such as olive, sunflower, or jojoba. Allow the mixture to sit for 4 to 6 weeks. Strain and store in a glass bottle.
Astragalus for Cold and Flu
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Astragalus as an immune booster has centuries of history behind it. Astragalus is also known as milk vetch and Huang Qi. Astragalus is a root from the pea family and native to eastern China. Among its numerous health benefits, astragalus helps with preventing colds and flu, but it also helps in recovering from them.
In addition, the saponins in astragalus have been associated with helping to lower cholesterol and prevent cancer. Astragalus can be purchased as an extract made into tablets, capsules, or drops. Astragalus root can be purchased at Asian markets and made into tea, added to soup, or stir-fried with honey.
In cultures all over the world, herbs and spices have been used to improve people’s health. Many medicinal herbs are best used under the care of a trained and experienced healthcare practitioner. However, the 5 herbs above are generally considered safe. Always, though, contact your own doctor before using any herbs, especially if you have a medical condition, are pregnant, nursing, or before giving to children.
- Astragalus Root: Heart Benefit and Side Effects. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/heart/astragalus-root-heart-benefits-side-effects#1a
- The Leading Ginger Producing Countries In The World. World Atlas. https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-leading-ginger-producing-countries-in-the-world.html.
- Tisserand, Robert. Gatefosse’s Burn. http://roberttisserand.com/2011/04/gattefosses-burn/.
- Calendula. Mountain Rose Herbs. https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/calendula-flower-north-american/profile.