“Let Your Food be your Medicine and Your Medicine be your Food”, Hippocrates …… this is one of my favourite quotes! Imagine how healthy we could be if we asked ourselves every time we put something in our mouth “is this healthy or not”
Spices have been used since the beginning of time; the spice trade was a very lucrative business. Even baby Jesus was given the gift of Frankincense and Myrrh. Our native communities have The Four Sacred Medicines, Sage, Tobacco, cedar and sweet grass…our ancestors knew the importance of spices and herbs, we need to embrace their wisdom and make spices and herbs part of our daily lives?
Spices not only add flavour, colour, smell and texture but also a much needed medicinal boost. With this in mind, the use of spices does not have to be an expensive or intimidating just do it! Remember a little goes a long way!
Salt – Sore throats and oral health. Lack of salt can cause digestive issues, constipation and low energy/fatigue. Salt is crucial to our endocrine health.
Pepper – Warming and energetic. Good for problems associated with colds. Pepper is found in many herbal formulae to help the body absorb the much needed nutrients and properties found in herbs.
Sage – Used in anxiety, nervous disorders, as astringent, in abdominal disorders and anti-inflammatory. Herbal folklore suggests that Sage will produce longevity and prosperity. Who wouldn’t want that! Sage is a women’s medicine, conferring strength, wisdom, and clarity of purpose. It is a powerful purifying medicine that drives away negative energies. Sage can be found braided and hung in people’s homes, perhaps tied with a ribbon in one of the colours of the medicine wheel. The threefold braid represents body, mind and spirit.
Fennel – Fennel acts as an excellent digestive aid to relieve abdominal cramps, gas and bloating. The fresh stems of fennel can be eaten much like celery; the seeds add a lovely anise flavor to fish and other dishes. Fennel seeds (as well as anise) contain chemicals that help to loosen congestion and make coughs more productive. Fennel also calms the dry, hacking cough of bronchitis. Fennel’s ancient reputation as a weight loss aid still holds up today. Drinking a cup of fennel seed tea 15 minutes before eating a heavy meal seems to take the edge off your appetite. Fennel also tunes up digestion, helping to turn food into energy instead of fat. Women who are going through menopause or are experiencing menstrual problems may benefit from the estrogenic properties of fennel. It has a balancing effect on the female reproductive system and increases the flow of body energy. Extracts of fennel have estrogenic properties that may benefit women going through the hormonal imbalances caused by menopause. Fennel is a sacred herb held in great respect by the Anglo Saxons. Herbal folklore says that fennel will ward off evil spirits, bestows strength & courage, and prolongs life.
Thyme – Is a wonderful for the immune system. A “pick me up”. Thyme is one of the best herbs to use as a cough and cold remedy, addressing all your cold symptoms in a holistic way. Thyme acts both as an expectorant to clear the lungs of congestion and as a antitussive, calming coughing spasms. Thyme tea will settle the stomach, help you sleep, soothe a sore throat, relieve aches and pains, and encourage your body to sweat, helping to eliminate toxins and bring down a fever. Drinking a warm thyme tea sweetened with thyme honey is a pleasant and tasty way to get these benefits. Thyme essential oil can also be used in room diffusers.
Savory – Savory is a carminative herb recommend for gas and digestive upsets, including colic, diarrhea and indigestion. Its antiseptic and astringent properties make it a good treatment for sore throats. A poultice of the leaves gives quick relief to insect bites.
Winter savory has a stronger, more resinous flavor than the milder annual summer savory, both impart a peppery bite to foods and blend well with thyme, marjoram and basil. Both are used to marinate meats, add flavor to beans and vegetables. Savory is known especially as “bean herbs”, because of the added flavor as well a reduction in flatulence and gas.
Marjoram –Marjoram is anti-infectious, antibacterial, dilates blood vessels, regulates blood pressure, and soothes muscles. Herbal folklore states that this herb will create peace, happiness and joy within a person.
Parsley – Parsley leaves and root are high in iron content and rich in vitamins A, B, C and trace minerals. Parsley adds color and aids digestion of the foods we eat and acts to prevent gas and bloating. Good for poor blood, anemia and fatigue. Both parsley leaf and root can be used in teas as a diuretic to rid the body of excess water. This may explain its folklore reputation for helping gout and rheumatism. Parsley does inhibit the histamines that trigger allergies so may help treat sinus infection and congestion. If you would like sweet breath after dinner, simply chew a fresh sprig of parsley, often handily served as a plate garnish in restaurants. Parsley leaves can be crushed and applied repeatedly to a bruise. This remedy may help speed the disappearance of black-and-blue marks. Cautionary – Used to slow flow of breast milk.
Sweetgrass – Sweetgrass is used by almost all Aboriginal peoples in North America for ritual cleansing. When Sweetgrass is walked on, it bends but does not break. Hence, it has been associated with virtue: an injustice can be returned by a kindness, by bending, not breaking. In the native community it is regarded as a male herb.
Cedar – Cedar is used for purification and (taken as a tea) to attract positive energy, feelings, emotions and for balance. Its vitamin C content helped prevent scurvy when fruits and vegetables were unavailable during the winter months. Make sure to try and pick bright green tips.
Cinnamon – The simple touch of cinnamon infuses warmth and energy throughout your body. As part of tea blends, cinnamon improves the taste of less tasty herbs and adds powerful antibacterial power to cold and flu remedies. Cinnamon essential oil is a reliable remedy for athletes foot but should only be applied to the skin when diluted with a carrier oil. Stimulates circulation. Cinnamon clears congestion, is a powerful antiseptic and slight aphrodisiac. Used in cooking, cinnamon aids digestion and is recommended for treating loss of appetite and stomach upset. Cinnamon prevents bloating and flatulence and treats heartburn and nausea.
Nutmeg – Nutmeg is widely used in cosmetics and in flavorings in dental creams, often in combination with peppermint, methyl salicylate and cloves. Historically, nutmeg has been used as a form of medicine to treat many illnesses ranging from those affecting the nervous system to the digestive system. Nutmeg has been used as the active ingredient in commercial cough and congestion preparations such as Vicks cough syrup and in herbal pain relieving ointments. It relieves chronic nervous disorders and heart problems. It also relieves nausea. Cautionary – Large doses can be poisonous.
Clove Bud – Cloves improve the immune system, they are also an antioxidant and doubles as an antibacterial and antimicrobial fighter. Traditionally used for tooth aches by simply chewing on the clove.
Remember that Thanksgiving is as much about feeding the soul as the body. Enjoy this time with your family and friends 🙂