Healing Your Digestive Issues: Kitchen Herbology

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Most of the illnesses and dis-eases we experience are a direct result of the types of foods we eat.  Let’s not sit on what we learn, but instead put it into practice. A place in our homes that is bursting with healing herbs/foods is the kitchen. The mustard on your table and many of the spices on your shelf come from herbs; most of the vegetables in your salad are herbs; and if you have a yard, many of the plants growing there (whether by your or their own design) are also herbs.  Preparers of food hold the power of health, and can redefine “health care” and the quality of “medicines” with what can be found in the kitchen.  In their natural states, almost all of our foods, spices and condiments have healing properties.  Some common healing kitchen herbs are Anise seed, Basil (relieves allergies), Bay leaves, Black Pepper (rids congestion), Caraway, Cardamom, Cayenne (can short-stop stroke/heart attack), Cinnamon, Cloves, Coriander, Cumin, Fennel (relieves gas), Fenugreek (lung congestion, stomach ulcers), Garlic and Ginger, Marjoram, Mustard Seed, Rosemary, Sage and Thyme.

Other herbs like Uva Ursi, parsley root, gentian root, red raspberry leaves, buchu leaves, saw palmetto berries, kelp and bladder wrack all contain chemical ingredients that promote the body’s ability to reduce high blood sugar and supports the body’s fight against diabetes.   Each of these herbs when used with others in effective combinations relieve dis-ease and restores balance to our organs.

Because our survival is dependent upon our ingestion of food for physical sustenance, digestion is one of the most important functions of our living organism, along with breathing and hydration.  DIGESTION, ASSIMILATION and ELIMINATION are three extremely important and pivotal aspects of health, and foods and spices that assist our bodies in these activities are carminatives, laxatives, cholagogues, emetics, parasiticides, sialagogues and bitters.  Cholagogues (laxatives) are herbs that promote the flow of bile into the small intestines to aid digestion and stimulate elimination.  These are Aloe, barberry, Oregon grape root, mandrake, goldenseal, wild yam and licorice.

MANDRAKE is very potent and should be taken in very small doses.  It is used t treat liver diseases, skin eruptions, digestion and obstructions to elimination. Mandrake should be combined with Oregon grape root, ginger or licorice. One capsule as necessary.

OREGON GRAPE ROOT is a biliary tonic that has a strong effect on the liver and thyroid.  It stimulates the secretion of bile and thus aids in digestion and the purification of the blood.  It is a tonic for all the glands and it aids in the assimilation of nutrients.  A teaspoon of the tincture taken 3-4x daily treats all skin diseases due to toxins in the blood, including psoriasis, eczema, herpes and acne.  It is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and hepatitis.

WILD YAM, as both an antispasmodic and cholagogue is valuable for treating griping (bowel spasms), cramps and muscle pain, arthritis and joint inflammation.  As a bile stimulant it is useful in the treatment of bilious colic and intestinal gas.  Use wild yam in small quantities in teas or two capsules taken 3x daily.

BASIL AND APPLE JUICE.  I used to suffer with severe hay fever, allergies, and conjunctivitis. This is one of my favorite formulas that helped me TOTALLY ELIMINATE ALL OF THOSE SYMPTOMS.  Add 1tsp of basil (dried) to 8oz of apple juice; shake vigorously and drink copious amounts – 3-5 glasses daily.  Because it is a systemic cleanser, it helps control and eliminate allergies, by eliminating toxins from the body that facilitate allergies.

Here are some other foods and spices that have exceptional therapeutic healing properties.

BLACK PEPPER (rids congestion) taken with ginger and pure/raw honey eliminates excess mucus, eases asthma and other lung congestive disorders: 1 part honey, ¼ part black pepper (ground peppercorns only) and ½ part ginger (powdered) – take 1-3tsps daily or as needed. Black pepper is a natural antihistamine and stimulates the immune system, strengthens the eyes, improves digestion, and relieves constipation and gas.

CAYENNE is an emergency herb, as it can stop a heart attack.  At the onset of a heart attack or stroke, take a pinch under the tongue – the extreme heat of Cayenne shocks the heart and jolts its rhythm, stopping the infarction. It’s not a cure, but simply buys one more time to get emergency assistance.

ROSEMARY, which is often used to season breads and meats, is useful for bad breath, coughs, headaches, and bronchitis, when taken as a tea (and asthma when made into a syrup with equal parts mullein and coltsfoot); as a heart stimulant, a liver tonic and to alleviate gas/indigestion, low blood pressure, menopause, nervousness, poor circulation, Rheumatism, premature balding, dandruff, urinary problems and wounds/sores.

CELERY SEED sipped slowly in a tea, is a strong morning stimulant, will improve appetite, relieve hives and hysteria, and is good for nervousness/hyperactivity (with equal parts skullcap).  It will ease insomnia taken one-hour before retiring; ease lung congestion (flavored with a little peppermint), and with Damiana, ease symptoms of Rheumatism.  Celery Seed also promotes urination and in an external wash/internal douche will relieve itching rashes/venereal disease.  Celery is one of the best herbs for prevention and cure of all forms of rheumatic ailments, also neuralgia.  It is a remedy for liver trouble, dropsy, tumors, and it removes stomach gas, restores appetite (especially in children), steadies the nerves, cures high-blood pressure, and improves eyesight.

THYME, as an old-school household remedy, is very healing and antiseptic, and is especially beneficial for chest, stomach, uterine and bowel problems (as is CATNIP: Nepeta cataria), and is a soothing sedative for the nerves in both children and adults. Thyme is powerful, yet harmless, and can be relied upon to eliminate all infection.  It destroys worms.  It restores health to children who are debilitated and exhausted by whooping cough. Of the over 60 varieties of thyme, thymus vulgari is best medicinally and for cooking. Colic and flatulence are relieved with an infusion of 3pts Spearmint, 1pt Ginger (zingiber officinalis) as necessary. For burns, apply gauze soaked in a thyme decoction.  For cirrhosis of liver/alcoholism taken as a warm tea, it stimulates the liver; for gynecologic infections, douche with a strong decoction.  For lung congestion or to reduce fever, take as a strong tea; for purulent/gangrenous wounds thyme’s antiseptic qualities make the tea a superb wash; for skin disorders (discoloration, eczema; psoriasis, poison ivy rash, ringworm) – use a strong decoction or tincture externally as a frequent wash.

SEAWEEDS harbor a multitude of healing virtues from the ocean. Whether taken as powdered supplements or added to baths, seaweed is rich in iodine and will help balance the thyroid, and significantly, will act as an anti-inflammatory, reducing painful swollen joints.  Iodine has been used for the treatment of goiter for over 5,000 years. Goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland, visible as a swelling on the front of the neck. Seaweed is a natural anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, antioxidant and also contains antiseptic properties.  Seaweed has the ability to remove radioactive strontium and other heavy metals from our bodies, and can be of benefit to people who have been exposed to radiotherapy or chemical intervention.  Many types of seaweed are edible and make delicious salads. They contain more protein than meat, more calcium than milk and contain many important vitamins including anti-stress B vitamins, Vitamin K. Seaweed is rich in magnesium, manganese, and other important minerals.

ASPARAGUS: Regular consumption is good for all internal organs including kidneys and heart.  It also helps blood vessels by removing cholesterol, and is good for strengthening bones and marrow.

SAGE is used to decrease breast milk yield and gives tonic properties to it; all fevers, digestive ailments – especially flatulence and lack of appetite; all nervous ailments including paralysis; improves memory; externally on all forms of wounds to allay excessive bleeding. As a drink and/or gargle, it treats sore throats, sore and ulcerated mouths.  It is an effective hair tonic, to stimulate hair growth, tone up color and remove dandruff; with Yarrow it is used as a rinse to eliminate gray hairs, and also deters cockroaches/rodents from closets.

BAY LEAVES: for cramps, take as a warm tea; for dandruff, use tea as hair rinse; for earache, 1-2 drops of essential oil extract in ear; to treat nail fungus, soak nails in a strong decoction; for indigestion, take a tea with meals; for rheumatism and sprains use the essential oil extract or tincture applied externally (better when used with heat); as a toothache remedy, use the oil on a cotton ball placed on the side of the cavity, and to treat vaginitis/uterine infection, use a douche of strong decoction.

Suggested reading: The Complete Book of Spices, by Dr. John Heinerman