Healing Through Cooking

Spices and herbs. Photo by Elocin91 on Pixabay. Image used in Healing Through Cooking.
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Medicinal Properties of My 5 Favorite Kitchen Herbs

What if I told you that you could have more than chicken noodle soup and salted crackers on your menu when you’re sick? As it turns out, the herbs you keep in your cabinet and refrigerator have just as much—if not, more—healing power than the most trusted, all-time sickie staple. After all, herbal remedies have existed as long as time itself; the herbs in this list are just my five favorites that you can actually EAT, thereby obtaining healing through cooking!

Yup, from stomach aches to flu and even to some types of cancer, the herbs on this list can treat* just about anything. So whether you sprinkle some of these on your classic chicken noodle soup or decide to try them with a different dish your stomach can handle, you can literally eat your way to better health! Keep reading to see what basil, cumin, garlic, ginger, and lemon grass can boost for you!

*NOTE

Please note that I say “treat”, not “cure”! Big difference. You treat an illness with the hope of eventually curing it. Read the disclaimer below for more important information prior to reading this article.

DISCLAIMER

I, the author of this article, am not a medical professional nor a nutritionist/dietician. This article does not substitute for medical advice nor nutritional counseling. Please consult a medical professional prior to consuming these herbs for medicinal benefits, and avoid consuming herbs that you have a known allergy for. Be aware that excess consumption, improper storage, and/or improper preparation of these herbs could result in dangerous side effects not listed here. By reading this article, you agree not to hold any members or persons otherwise associated with Poise and Potions, nor the business entity of Poise and Potions itself, liable for damages incurred to your person or persons you share this article’s information with.

Basil (a.k.a. Sweet Basil)

Ocimum basilicum

Sweet basil. Ocimum basilicum. Photo by tookapic on Pixabay. Image used in Healing Through Cooking.

Sweet basil. Ocimum basilicum. Photo by tookapic on Pixabay.

First on the list is basil, specifically sweet basil. The vibrant green leaves of this herb have a strongly herbal flavor with a lightly sweet, floral complement. It pairs best with tomato-based dishes and can treat a little something in nearly every part of the body!

Part Used: leaves

Flavor: strongly herbal, lightly sweet and floral

Common Recipes: tomato soup, spaghetti, caprese salad

Medicinal Properties: antibacterial[1,2], antifungal[2], anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-proliferative[3]

Regional Treatments of Basil

Head: migraines[1]

Throat: sore throat

Lungs: cough[4]

Digestive Tract: abdominal cramps, colic, flatulence (i.e. is carminative), indigestion, nausea

Nervous System: spasms (i.e. is antispasmodic)

Reproductive Organs: low breastmilk production (i.e. is galactogogue)[1]

Full-Body Treatments of Basil

Mental Illness: depression[1]

Physical Illness: bronchitis[4], cancer (specifically prostate cancer and glioblastoma)[3], cold, fever[1], flu[1,4]

Energy Problems: exhaustion, insomnia[1]

Cumin

Cuminum cyminum

Cumin seeds. Cuminum cyminum. Photo by usernamehastaken on Pixabay. Image used in Healing Through Cooking.

Cumin seeds. Cuminum cyminum. Photo by usernamehastaken on Pixabay.

Second on the list is cumin, the seeds of which are typically ground into powder and incorporated into many Mexican recipes. The smoky, salty flavor makes this seasoning a great substitute for salt, and, in addition to alleviating digestive upset, cumin may serve as an aphrodisiac as well.

Part Used: seeds

Flavor: salty and smoky, a little spicy

Common Recipes: tacos, Spanish rice, chili

Medicinal Properties: antibacterial[2,5,6], antifungal[2], larvicidal[6]

Regional Treatments of Cumin

Digestive Tract: abdominal cramps, bloating, flatulence (i.e. is carminative)

Nervous System: spasms (i.e. is antispasmodic)

Reproductive Organs: low breastmilk production (i.e. is galactogogue), low libido (i.e. is an aphrodisiac)[6]

Full-Body Treatments of Cumin

Physical Illness: cold, fever

Energy Problems: insomnia[6]

Garlic

Allium sativum

Garlic bulbs. Allium sativum. Photo by stevepb on Pixabay. Image used in Healing Through Cooking.

Garlic bulbs. Allium sativum. Photo by stevepb on Pixabay.

Garlic quite possibly proves to be the most diverse herb on the planet, showing up in dishes all over the world, from Italian cuisine to Chinese cuisine, and Indian cuisine to–well–EVERYWHERE. The salty, buttery flavor of it just goes with everything! Where garlic really shines as a healing agent is within your cardiovascular system, whacking high levels of cholesterol and lowering blood pressure.

Part Used: bulbs

Flavor: strongly savory, buttery, salty

Common Recipes: butter chicken, garlic bread, Pad Thai

Medicinal Properties: anthelmintic (eliminates intestinal parasitic worms)[7], antibacterial, antifungal[2,7], antioxidant[7]

Regional Treatments of Garlic

Lungs: asthma, phlegm buildup (i.e. is an expectorant)[7,8]

Gallbladder: general bile flow (i.e. is cholagogue)[7]

Digestive Tract: diarrhea[7,8], parasitic worms

Skin: general perspiration (i.e. is diaphoretic)

Cardiovascular System: arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure (via vasodilation)[7], high cholesterol and/or LDL[7,8], fluid retention (i.e. is diuretic)

Nervous System: spasms (i.e. is antispasmodic)[7]

Full-Body Treatments of Garlic

Physical Illness: cancer, chronic lead poisoning, diabetes (via reduction of glucose metabolism), fever[7], flu[8]

Energy Problems: fatigue (i.e. is a stimulant)[7]

Ginger

Zingiber officinale

Ginger roots. Zingiber officinale. Photo by congerdesign on Pixabay. Image used in Healing Through Cooking.

Ginger roots. Zingiber officinale. Photo by congerdesign on Pixabay.

Although ginger seems to be primarily favored in Asian cuisines, it has “root”-ed its way into beloved desserts in the West. Similar to licorice in that it’s sweet with a slight bitterness to it, its earthiness and spicy kick give it a strong distinction. Ginger is most widely known for its digestive upset and cold/flu remedies, but it also possesses some anti-cancer properties.

Part Used: roots

Flavor: sweet with slight bitterness, earthy and spicy

Common Recipes: ginger tea, kung pao chicken, gingerbread

Medicinal Properties: antibacterial, antifungal[2], anti-inflammatory, antioxidant[8]

Regional Treatments of Ginger

Head: headaches[8]

Lungs: cough, phlegm buildup (i.e. is an expectorant)

Liver: general function

Digestive Tract: colic, general digestion, nausea

Skin: general perspiration (i.e. is diaphoretic)[9]

Cardiovascular System: artherosclerosis[8], general circulation[9], inflammation[8], peripheral circulatory problems

Nervous System: pain, spasms (i.e. is antispasmodic)[9]

Cells: buildup of damaged cells (i.e. promotes autophagy)[8]

Full-Body Treatments of Ginger

Physical Illness: cancer[8], cold[8,9], flu[9], type 2 diabetes[8]

Lemon Grass (a.k.a. Citronella Grass)

Cymbopogon citratus

Lemon/citronella grass. Cymbopogon citratus. Photo by alondav on Pixabay. Image used in Healing Through Cooking.

Lemon/citronella grass. Cymbopogon citratus. Photo by alondav on Pixabay.

Lastly, lemon grass, the most rare herb on this list, made it here simply because of how much I love it! The tangy, citrusy flavor is so refreshing and makes my favorite Tom Kha Gai soup feel light despite how much rich coconut milk is in there. Lemon grass mainly works as an anti-inflammatory agent and a fever reducer.

Part Used: leaves

Flavor: sharp, tangy, citrusy

Common Recipes: Tom Yum soup, rendang curry, Thai larb

Medicinal Properties: anti-inflammatory[10]

Regional Treatments of Lemon Grass

Head: general brain cell production[10]

Digestive Tract: abdominal cramps, flatulence (i.e. is carminative)

Skin: general perspiration (i.e. is diaphoretic)[11]

Cardiovascular System: inflammation

Nervous System: neuroinflammation, spasms (i.e. is antispasmodic)[10]

Full-Body Treatments of Lemon Grass

Physical Illness: fever[11,12]

As you can see, although the primary goal of cooking may be artistic in the sense that a cook creatively pairs herbs with meats, grains, or veggies to create unique flavors, a good secondary goal can be scientific, for healing through cooking!

For ideas on recipes you could easily add these herbs to, check out our Recipes page!

This article brought to you with love from Rose Auflick of Mingled Vitality.

References

[1]L. “Ocimum Basilicum.” Plants for a Future, by L., Plants For A Future, 2012, pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ocimum+basilicum. Accessed 31 Jan. 2019.

[2]Liu, Qing et al. “Antibacterial and Antifungal Activities of Spices” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 18,6 1283. 16 Jun. 2017, doi:10.3390/ijms18061283

[3]Bayala, Bagora et al. “Chemical composition, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative activities of essential oils of plants from Burkina Faso”PloS one vol. 9,3 e92122. 24 Mar. 2014, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0092122

[4]Lemos, Izabel Cristina Santiago et al. “ETHNOBIOLOGICAL SURVEY OF PLANTS AND ANIMALS USED FOR THE TREATMENT OF ACUTE RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS IN CHILDREN OF A TRADITIONAL COMMUNITY IN THE MUNICIPALITY OF BARBALHA, CEARÁ, BRAZIL”African journal of traditional, complementary, and alternative medicines : AJTCAM vol. 13,4 166-175. 3 Jul. 2016, doi:10.21010/ajtcam.v13i4.22

[5]Bag, Anwesa and Rabi Ranjan Chattopadhyay. “Evaluation of Synergistic Antibacterial and Antioxidant Efficacy of Essential Oils of Spices and Herbs in Combination” PloS one vol. 10,7 e0131321. 1 Jul. 2015, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0131321

[6]L. “Cuminum Cyminum.” Plants for a Future, by L., Plants for a Future, 2012, pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cuminum+cyminum. Accessed 7 Mar. 2019.

[7]L. “Allium Sativum.” Plants for a Future, by L., Plants for a Future, 2012, pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Allium+sativum. Accessed 25 Feb. 2019.

[8]Tsui, Pi-Fen et al. “Spices and Atherosclerosis” Nutrients vol. 10,11 1724. 10 Nov. 2018, doi:10.3390/nu10111724

[9] Roscoe. “Zingiber Officinale.” Plants for a Future, by Roscoe, Plants for a Future, 2012, pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Zingiber+officinale. Accessed 25 Feb. 2019.

[10]Mediesse, Francine Kengne et al. “Inhibition of lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced neuroinflammatory response by polysaccharide fractions of Khaya grandifoliola (C.D.C.) stem bark, Cryptolepis sanguinolenta (Lindl.) Schltr and Cymbopogon citratus Stapf leaves in raw 264.7 macrophages and U87 glioblastoma cells” BMC complementary and alternative medicine vol. 18,1 86. 12 Mar. 2018, doi:10.1186/s12906-018-2156-2

[11](DC. Ex Nees) Stapf. “Cymbopogon Citratus.” Plants for a Future, by (DC. Ex Nees) Stapf, Plants for a Future, 2012, pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cymbopogon+citratus. Accessed 25 Feb. 2019.

[12]Clement, Y N et al. “An ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants in Trinidad”Journal of ethnobiology and ethnomedicine vol. 11 67. 15 Sep. 2015, doi:10.1186/s13002-015-0052-0

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Welcome To Poise and Potions!
Where Art and Medicine Dance
We hope to be your go-to blog for all things art, medicine, and everything in between