“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”-Hippocrates
In our current culture we’ve become so accustomed to the endless claims about the hot new supplement that will cure everything. I’ve learned to ignore most of this and have entered the quest to find the age old remedies that our grandfather’s grandmother used. Many of which are in our houses right now.
Those dusty old jars that get pulled out every Thanks-giving, the secret recipe that Simon and Garfunkle sang about, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. The makings for great stuffing, and herbal medicines that have been trusted for thousands of years.
Parsley- the most iron rich leafy green!! Also containing more vitamin C than citrus. This is a great combo because our bodies absorb iron better when Vitamin C is present. Also those frilly green leaves contain Vitamin A&B, key in maintaining immunity from cold and the blues.
Parsley is also a diuretic with the ability to help your kidneys filter out the bad stuff in your blood and solids like kidney and gallstones from your urinary tract. So add more fresh parsley to your salads, soups or any other dish. For use beyond a nutritive I recomend a good reference, such as Dr.Christophers, School of Natural Healing, for doses and cautions.
Sage- Salvia, a word meaning “to save”, a plant revered as the guardian of all plant life, said to be a gift directly from the Virgin Mary; a heal all, so valued by Chinese traders that 3 chests of tea was seen as equal to 1 chest of sage. Today we mainly use it in turkey stuffing 2 or 3 times a year. Made into a tea , sage is used for longevity, it supports the liver, is a powerful antioxidant, used to treat respiratory infections and sore throats. A steaming cup of sage tea may be just the ticket for drying out the long lasting winter cough that has been driving you insane. Believed to have a beneficial effect upon the spirit, sage has traditionally been used to treat some forms of insanity and may help with some of the other symptoms of a long winter.
Rosemary- “The herb of remembrance” was worn around the heads of ancient scholars to improve their memory during exams. Rosemary has a long list of accomplishments, being used for headaches, nervousness, colds and in reducing inflammation which may lead to asthma, liver disease and heart disease. Some research suggests that rosemary has anti-cancer properties and may lessen the spreading of certain types of cancer. It can be used externally as a hair rinse or as a gargle for teeth and gums. This herb was traditionally used for treating animal and insect bites.
Thyme- “a true love of mine”. As a girl it grew in our front yard and I would rub my hands in the mother of Thyme and drink in the fragrance, in my mind the finest perfume. Thyme is considered a specific for whooping cough in children . Used to rid children of intestinal worms and belly aches. A gentle nervine, thyme is a nightmares remedy. The tea tastes great with a spoon of local honey. Long term use of thyme, in large doses, is not recommended though occasional use as a tea is pleasant and effective.
Sage, Rosemary and Thyme are all considered to be emmenagogues and should not be used by pregnant women. Sage has a special quality of drying up mothers milk when drank cold and has been used as a weaning aide. These three herbs contain essential oils that will evaporate, lessening the potency if not covered while steeping. I usually put 1 teaspoon of herb in a 1 litre mason jar and cover it with a saucer while steeping.
My hope is to inspire you to learn more about the herbs in your cupboard (and use them more often). It is so tempting to look to the exotic for help with treating and maintaining our health, but as far as I know EVERY herb and spice that is used in cooking has been and continues to be used as medicine. One study even suggested that 40 common spices have anticancer properties!!
If you are taking medications, have high blood pressure or epilepsy I advise further research before using herbs beyond there common culinary uses.
Blair Richards – Chartered Herbalist, Plant Geek