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I don't remember where I found this article, but it seemed
to be worth keeping and included somewhere on my web
page, but I can't vouch for all the information.
-- Syn. essence, extract, seasoning, spice, herb, flavor,
distillation, quintessence, additive, condiment, sauce,
dressing, relish, marinade, pepper-upper*.
Commonly used flavorings include: vanilla, lemon, lime,
chocolate, butterscotch, peppermint, anise, ginger, clove,
cinnamon, almond, pistachio, nutmeg, raspberry, strawberry,
banana, licorice, caramel, burnt sugar, cherry, orange,
peach, sarsaparilla, coconut, rum.
Common herbs and spices used as flavorings include: salt,
pepper, onion, garlic, clove, pimento, turmeric, parsley,
celery, marjoram, rosemary, basil, tarragon, oregano, dill,
bay leaf, chili powder, saffron, thyme, cumin, cilantro, sage,
summer savory, saffron, rose;
see also herb,
You can ease an upset stomach,
stop a toothache, cool off menopausal symptoms, and much more with herbs you'll find right in your own kitchen
grow everywhere--in your backyard and deep in the Amazon rain
forest, high on remote mountain ridges and in sun-baked deserts, in shady
woodland, and even in the sea. Some, such as dandelion, are often scorned
as weeds; others, such as red clover, alfalfa, and oats, are common farm crops.
Still others, such as thyme and cayenne pepper, may be sitting in your kitchen
spice rack right now.
Though you may have only
thought of them as cooking ingredients, there are herbs in
your spice rack that can ease a variety of conditions, from bad breath to
urinary tract problems. Here are 23 easy home remedies--from The Woman's Book
of Healing Herbs (Rodale Press, Inc., 1999)--that
use the healing power of the spices that flavor your
1 Chew on some cardamom.
Cardamom, a popular spice in Arabian cuisine, is rich in cineole, a potent
antiseptic that kills bad-breath bacteria, says James A. Duke, PhD, former
ethnobotanist with the US Department of Agriculture and author of The Green
Pharmacy (Rodale Press, Inc., 1997). You can buy whole cardamom in specialty
herb shops and some supermarkets. To freshen bad breath,
discard pods and chew on a few seeds, then (discreetly) spit them out.
2 Drink some peppermint
tea. The aromatic oil that gives peppermint its distinctive flavor and smell
is a potent antiseptic that can kill the germs that cause bad breath. Drink
a cup of peppermint tea whenever you feel the need. Use 1 Tbsp. whole dried
leaves (2 Tbsp. fresh leaves) or a tea bag per cup of hot water and steep
for 10 minutes.
3 Stun the pain with cloves.
Rub a drop of essential oil of clove directly on an aching tooth, suggests
Ellen Kahmi, RN, PhD, of Oyster Bay, NY, an herbalist and host of the nationally
syndicated radio show Natural Alternatives. "If you don't have oil of
clove handy, just wiggle a whole clove, pointed end down, next to the tooth,"
4 Open sesame. According
to Dr. Duke, sesame contains at least seven pain-relieving compounds. Boil
1 part sesame seeds with 3 parts water until the liquid is reduced by half.
Cool the resulting decoction and apply it directly to the tooth.
5 Speed digestion with
turmeric. Bitter herbs help stimulate the flow of
digestive juices, moving food along and preventing acid buildup. So spice
up your food with the bitter herb turmeric, which
is the base of most Indian curries, says David Frawley, OMD, a doctor of Oriental
medicine and director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies in Santa
Fe, NM. If simply flavoring your food isn't enough to stop the burn, he suggests
two or three turmeric capsules (1/2 to 1 g), available at health food stores,
before a meal.
6 De-stress with peppermint.
Stress can trigger a gas attack. Fortunately, the smell of peppermint tea
can calm your nerves as the active ingredient you sip travels to the gastrointestinal
tract. Have a cup of peppermint tea in the morning and a cup at night, or
more often. Sip slowly and smell the tea as you relax.
7 Grate some ginger. For
best results, grate fresh ginger and mix 1 tsp to 1 Tbsp. in 1 cup of hot
water. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes and then strain (or use a tea ball). You
can also buy and use pre-made ginger teas.
8 In an emergency, use
cinnamon tea. If your diarrhea is so copious or frequent that you risk dehydration
and you need to quickly stop the flow, prepare some cinnamon tea. Cinnamon
is a natural astringent and will dry up your bowel. Mix 1 Tbsp dried, powdered
cinnamon bark into 1 cup of hot water. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Use cinnamon
this way only for short periods of time--chronic diarrhea requires medical
NAUSEA AND VOMITING
9 Pair cinnamon with ginger.
If food poisoning has double-whammied you with vomiting and diarrhea, make
a ginger-cinnamon tea, says Douglas Schar, a practicing medical herbalist
in London and editor of the British Journal of Phytotherapy. The ginger will
stop your nausea while the naturally astringent cinnamon dries up your stool.
Mix 1 tsp. dried cinnamon with 1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger and add them to
1 cup boiling water. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes; strain and drink.
10 Out of ginger? Substitute
Although not as effective
as ginger, peppermint can decrease nausea in a pinch. Pour hot water into
a cup with 1 Tbsp. fresh peppermint leaves. Let steep, covered, for 5 to 10
minutes to keep the oils from escaping. Then strain and drink.
11 Sip some rosemary. "A
good herbal preventive for some vasoconstrictor migraines is rosemary because
it can help keep blood vessels dilated, " says Lisa Alschuler, ND, a
naturopathic physician and chairperson of the Department of Botanical Medicine
at Bastyr University in Bothell, WA. Use 1 tsp. rosemary per cup of hot water.
12 Make ginger part of
your plan. "Ginger inhibits a substance called thromboxane A[sub2] that
prevents the release of substances that make blood vessels dilate," says
Tieraona Low Dog, MD, a physician at the University of New Mexico Hospital
in Albuquerque. In other words, it can help keep blood flowing on an even
keel, which is essential in migraine prevention. Grate fresh ginger into juice,
nosh on Japanese pickled ginger, use fresh or powdered ginger when you cook,
or nibble a piece or two of crystallized ginger candy daily.
SINUS PAIN OR PRESSURE
13 Choose thyme. If your
sinus secretions are clear or white, you need a warming, drying herb
such as thyme, says David Winston, founder of Herbalists and
Alchemists, an herbal medicine company in Washington, NJ. Thyme is strongly
antiseptic and is a traditional remedy for respiratory infections. Drink a
cup of thyme tea--made by steeping 1 to 2 tsp. dried thyme in 1 cup of boiling
water for about 10 minutes- -three times a day.
INSECT BITES AND STINGS
14 Cool the itch and squelch
the swelling with mint. A tiny drop of peppermint essential oil rubbed into
the center of a bite or sting can bring quick, long-lasting relief, says Sharol
Tilgner, ND, a naturopathic physician and president of Wise Woman Herbals
in Eugene, OR.
the area feel cool so you don't feel like scratching, " Dr. Tilgner says.
"At the same time, it increases blood flow to the area, which helps to
quickly carry off the little bit of venom the insect has deposited under the
skin surface as well as the chemicals your body has produced in reaction to
the venom. That means less swelling and less itching."
Remember to wash your hands
after applying it, and don't use essential oils near your eyes because they
can be irritating. Don't use this remedy on large venomous bites, such as
those from a poisonous spider or snake, which require immediate medical attention.
MENOPAUSAL NIGHT SWEATS
15 Get some help from sage.
Garden sage can help reduce or sometimes even eliminate night sweats. To make
a sage infusion, place 4 heaping Tbsp dried sage in 1 cup of hot water. Cover
tightly and steep for 4 hours or more. Then strain and drink.
16 Give ginger a thumbs-up.
For some people, fresh ginger works better than dimenhydrinate, the active
ingredient in over-the-counter motion sickness medications such as Dramamine.
The ginger works by controlling the symptoms of motion sickness or by dampening
impulses to the brain that deliver messages about equilibrium. You need to
give ginger time to kick in, says Lois Johnson, MD, a physician in private
practice in Sebastopol, CA. To be on the safe side, do one of the following
1 hour before your trip. Take two 500 mg ginger capsules; or, grate
1 tsp. to 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger in 1 cup of water, steep for 10 to 15 minutes,
then strain and drink; or, place 60 drops ginger extract on a teaspoon and
COLDS AND FLU
17 Warm up in the kitchen.
To take the chills out of your cold, make a beeline to the kitchen and fix
yourself a traditional herb and spice remedy,
This is suggested David Hoffman, a fellow of Britain's National Institute
of Medical Herbalists and assistant professor of integral health studies at
the California Institute of Integral Studies in Santa Rosa.
Combine 1 ounce (by weight)
sliced fresh ginger, 1 broken-up cinnamon stick, 1 tsp. coriander seeds, 3
cloves, 1 lemon slice, and 1 pint water. He recommends simmering for 15 minutes
and straining. Then drink a hot cupful every 2 hours.
18 Break it up with horseradish.
Another timeless herbal remedy for respiratory ills is horseradish. And if
you've ever inhaled its pungent vapors, it's easy to understand why. "The
best way to get horseradish into your system is to just eat it. A teaspoonful
on some crackers should help clear you right up," says Ed Smith, founder
of the Herb- Pharm in Williams, OR.
21 Give it thyme. Thyme
is a good herb to clear a congestive cough because
it not only acts as an expectorant and an antiseptic, it also relieves bronchial
spasms, says Smith. You can prepare thyme tea, which you can drink up to three
times a day when you're sick. Steep 1 to 2 tsp. of dried thyme leaves in
1 cup of boiling water for 10 minutes, says Varro E. Tyler, PhD, professor
emeritus of pharmacognosy at the Purdue University School of Pharmacy and
Pharmacal Sciences in West Lafayette, IN.
URINARY TRACT PROBLEMS
22 Go with parsley. Parsley
is an excellent diuretic, says Dr. Tyler. This herb contains
myristicin and apiol, compounds that are thought to help increase the output
of urine by increasing the flow of blood to the kidneys. To make a tea, pour
boiling water over a few sprigs of crushed fresh parsley or 1 tsp. of dried
parsley. Let the herb steep for 10 minutes, then strain
23 Need an energy boost?
Try peppermint or spearmint tea for a pick- me-up. See directions on p 100
for making peppermint tea.
Reprinted from The Woman's
Book of Healing Herbs, copyright 1999 by Rodale Press,
Inc. Permission granted by Rodale Press, Inc., Emmaus, PA 18098. Available
in bookstores or by calling 800-848-4735.
EDITOR'S NOTE: If you have
a serious illness or suffer from asthma or allergies, talk to your doctor
before treating yourself with herbs. Never substitute
herbs for your prescription medication unless you
have your doctor's okay. If your symptoms don't improve within a week or you
have a bad reaction, discontinue use.
Hot Tips for Cold-Related
19 GOT COLD HANDS OR FEET?
Sprinkle 1 Tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbsp. ground red pepper in your gloves
20 FOR A SORE THROAT, cover
1 tsp. sage or thyme with boiling water. Let it steep, covered, for 10 minutes,
strain, and gargle.
Research suggests that
cinnamon can stop the growth of disease-causing bacteria.
Cloves contain eugenol,
which kills microorganisms and relieves pain.
Figure 1 [Figure not reproduced]
Ginger, cinnamon, cloves: These are just some of the herbs in
your spice rack that would be at home in a first-aid-kit.
Cumin is a relative newcomer
to our cooking lexicon. Whether ground or whole and toasted, it infuses a
dish with a soft, round, gentle warmth. It has a warmth that is surprisingly
like that of pepper, but cumin has a sweetness and a hint of pale lemon as
Cumin is generally not
a team player. It doesn't bridge flavours, nor does it change when combined
with other herbs and spices.
It is so uncompromising that only a palate not put off by such brashness would
find it irresistible, which is to say it cannot be used with abandon.
Cumin is the seed of a
spiky leaf plant that grows to about 15 centimetres tall in India, Egypt,
the southern Mediterranean and parts of Latin America. The seed is ridged
and oblong and usually parchment- colored, although I have heard of a black
variety with a slightly more intense, bitter flavor. Cumin is often confused
with caraway seeds.
Like most pungent herbs
and spices, cumin has a long medicinal
history. According to Julie Sahni in Savoring Spices and
Herbs, cumin is mentioned frequently in the book of
Isaiah and as a cure for colic in a 2,000-year-old Indian medical work, Susruta
In cooking, cumin makes
its biggest splash in the foods of India, the Middle East and Latin America.
Rare is the Mexican bean dish that doesn't include it. While the spice is
at its best in heavy dishes such as pork stews and curries, it would be a
big mistake to limit cumin to the heavy foods.
It can give warmth and depth to things as delicate as scrambled eggs,
hollandaise sauce or any yogurt-based soup or dip.
In cold climates, cumin
is used in breads and cakes and to flavor cheese. If lightly toasted in a
dry skillet, it becomes even more flavorful and especially delicious tossed
on sliced cucumbers, pasta, potatoes or rice. Ground cumin also gives an extra
kick to barbecue sauce.
Buy it whole and then crush
it with a mortar spice grinder shortly before using. Although its oils are
strong enough to be prized in the perfume trade, they evaporate quickly.
You can use cumin in vinaigrettes
and in almost anything Mexican. It is delicious with carrots, green peppers,
peas, lentils and cabbage. It can add zip to tomatoes or depth to tomato sauces.
Chicken loves cumin; so do such rich foods a tuna, Chilean sea bass and swordfish,
as well as shrimp and lobster. Perhaps because cumin is widely used in sausage,
I find a natural affinity between it and all things pork.
But to me, cumin really
distinguishes itself with ground meat, making the difference between a meatloaf
that is mundane and one that is truly memorable.
Non-woody, vascular plants
(relatively soft plants with
specialized systems of vessels for conducting water and
nutrients), are technically herbs. More commonly, the word
refers to various often aromatic plants used especially in
medicine or as seasoning. Here, "herb" is used in its less
and spices differ largely by usage. Spices
normally more aromatic than herbs, and are often of tropical
origin. They may consist of seeds, bark, flower buds,
fruits, etc. Herbs are usually leafy and locally grown, and
their use extends far back into history. Culinary herbs are
still of great importance as flavoring; before refrigeration,
they were essential as preservatives and to disguise the
flavor of bad meat.
"Pot herbs" were almost any young, green growth that could
be eaten early in spring to supply needed minerals and vitamins
after the privations of winter. Various herbal teas, filling the
same need, were very important to the inhabitants of the New
and Old worlds.
Many favorite herbs
come from the Mediterranean area and
their position in northern gardens must be planned
accordingly. A sunny spot with a light sandy soil that warms
up quickly in spring is ideal. For maximum flavor, herbs
should not be given too much water or nitrogen. Luckily,
many herbs are annuals or can be grown as such; therefore,
they present no problem in any part of Canada or the U.S.
Seed should be sown outside as soon as the soil is warm, or
started indoors and transplanted
when all danger of frost is past.
Dill (Anethum graveolens),
summer savory (Satureia
hortensis), sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum), chervil
(Anthriscus cerefolium) and sweet marjoram (Majorana
hortensis) are annuals that may be grown this way. Parsley
(Petroselinum crispum) and sage (Salvia officinalis) are
perennial only in warmer parts of the country, but may be
successfully grown as annuals.
Woody perennials such as
rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
and lavender (Lavandula officinalis) will not generally
overwinter outside. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is not very
hardy, but creeping thyme (T. serpyllum) may be used as a
substitute. Two popular herbs require somewhat different
conditions. Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are easy
perennials in any good garden soil and should be divided and
replanted every few years. Mint (Mentha) is a vigorous
perennial, spreading rapidly in moist soil by means of
underground stolons; in dry prairie conditions, it may die
out unless moved to new ground frequently. Basil usually
doesn't even appear in the nurseries until June in the north-
west because it is very sensitive to the cold. It will not winter-
Either buy it in the store or grow it in the house.
The native peoples of North
America were quite conversant
with the use of herbs for health, healing and spiritual
needs. In many cases, discoveries paralleled those of
Europe; eg, willow (Salix) and poplar (Populus), each
containing salicylic acid (as does aspirin), were used by
both Europeans and aboriginals for relief of pain and
rheumatic complaints. Rose hips (containing vitamin C) were
important on both sides of the Atlantic, as were YARROW,
sorrel, MINT and nettles. Native people introduced European
settlers to medicinal herbs which they could substitute for
those left at home. Particularly noteworthy were the
effective cures for SCURVY, chief of which, available even
in winter, were teas made of SPRUCE (Picea) or CEDAR (Thuja)
The Greek Theophrastus
(c 371-286 BC) was the first
botanist/physician to write about plants, their
identification and uses. Medical knowledge was kept alive in
the monasteries during the Middle Ages, and emerged during
the 16th century, hand in hand with BOTANY, when schools of
medicine and BOTANIC GARDENS were first established.
Meanwhile, the local herbalist, wise woman, or shaman
continued to minister to the sick, often in competition with
the professional doctors.
Herbal specialists were
sometimes revered, sometimes burned
as witches. Because much ancient herbal lore relied on
psychological as well as physical methods of curing, the use
of herbal medicine fell into disrepute with the advent of
"scientific" methods. Herbs, however, are the bases of
modern medicines, some of which (e.g, digitalis, belladonna
and the many opium derivatives) are still obtainable only as
plant extracts. Others, first discovered as plant
ingredients, are now being manufactured synthetically.
Many scientists are now
looking at old remedies, and
interest in herbal lore has revived as people seek
alternatives or supplements to modern medicine. However, the
use of herbal medicine is an exacting science in its own
right, involving the correct identification and use of what
may be highly toxic plants. The use even of simple home
remedies and herbal teas should be attempted only by those
familiar with plant identification.
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