Culinary Herbs: Their Medicinal Uses Part II
to page-1by Annemarie Colbin, C.H.E.S.
This popular condiment has been used since prehistory, as well as in
ancient Chinese, Greek, and Roman kitchens to prevent rancidity in
meats. It can help regulate irregular heartbeat, cholesterol and
blood sugar levels because of its
magnesium content. Ground mustard
seed in a foot bath helps relieve respiratory congestion. (One
tablespoon ground mustard seed to 2 quarts hot water).
Mustard greens are a good source of beta carotenes, calcium, and
iron, as well as vitamin C.
Here is a recipe that utilizes some of these wonderful foods.
CORIANDER PESTO2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 packed cups fresh basil leaves
1 packed cup fresh cilantro
1 teaspoons yellow miso
1. Run your blender or food processor, drop in the garlic cloves,
and process until chopped. Add the olive oil, then the basil and
cilantro, and process until coarsely pureed. Stop the blender or
processor occasionally and push the contents down into the blades.
2. Add miso and process until mixed. Serve over pasta, grain, or as
a seasoning in the soup.
OREGANO In Jamaica, oregano incense is used to help prevent and soothe coughs and other respiratory complaints.. In ancient Greece oregano tea was used to treat poisonous insect bites, coughs and digestive problems. It is an excellent digestive aid.
PARSLEY A breath freshener as far back as the early Romans, parsley is considered an herbal multivitamin. A cup of minced fresh parsley (about 4 oz, or 100g) contains more beta carotene than a large carrot, almost twice as much vitamin C as an orange, more calcium than a cup of milk, and twenty times as much iron as a serving of liver. It is a mild diuretic, and can stimulate menstruation. Chinese and German herbologists recommend parsley tea to help control high blood pressure, and Cherokee Indians use it as a tonic to strengthen the bladder. Parsley tea: steep two teaspoons of bruised fresh parsley leaves in one cup of boiling water, covered, 10 minutes. Strain and take 3x day for water retention
PEPPERMINT This herb is extremely popular in the Middle East, as a tea, condiment, and candy. In ancient Greece it was used to freshen baths, to treat hiccups, and soldiers rubbed their weapons with it for good luck. In the middle Ages it was recommended for digestive distress; merchants sprinkled it around grain and cheeses to keep rats away. Monks used it to polish their teeth with fresh peppermint leaves for a brighter smile. The menthol helps soothe stomach lining, fend off nausea and vomiting, and encourages digestion by stimulating the gallbladder and liver, especially after a fatty meal. It can help relieve flu symptoms and clears congestion from the head. French bicycle racers drink a combination of peppermint and rosemary tea before racing. Peppermint tea creates a cooling sensation on the skin, so it’s good for menopausal women. Too much peppermint tea may inhibit iron absorption in anemic people.
ROSEMARY In ancient Greece, rosemary was credited with having positive effects on the mind, and students tucked fresh rosemary sprigs in their hair when studying, to help them remember better. It has been a popular folk cure for stress and to ward off the evil eye. Rosemary contains a compound called rosmaricine that seems to relieve headaches the same way aspirin does, but without irritating the stomach; it can also soothe the digestive system. It’s extremely high in calcium, a mineral known to calm the nerves: one tablespoon of dried rosemary contains about 42 mg. For a hair rinse to clean up the buildup of other hair products, use a rosemary rinse: 2 tsp dry rosemary and 2 cups boiling water. Steep till cool, then strain. Use as a final rinse after a good shampooing once per week, leaving it in your hair.
SAGE Native Americans use sage for “smudging” ceremonies to clean areas of bad feelings and negative emotions. The sage is tied into bundles, called “smudge sticks,” and lit, so they produce silvery smoke, and then waved around rooms, offices, houses, cars, or wherever else they’re wanted. The Latin name for sage is “salvia,” which means “salvation,” Ancient Arabic and Chinese herbalists believed that drinking sage tea enhanced mental and spiritual clarity.
Modern herbalists report that sage’s camphor, tannin, and other components have antiseptic properties. It can help treat sore gums and mouth ulcers. To make a mouthwash, steep one teaspoon of fresh sage or ½ a teaspoon dried in one cup of hot water, covered, for 4 minutes. Add a 1/4 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon cider vinegar or lemon juice. Swish around mouth to help ulcers, or use as gargle for sore throat, but do not swallow. Sage tea can help prevent blood clots from forming, and is useful in the prevention and treatment of heart attacks. However, it also can cause uterine contractions, so pregnant women should avoid it. Use very small amounts to flavor stews and soups.
TARRAGON An excellent breath freshener after garlicky or oniony meals, it also creates a slight sensation of numbness in the mouth, and was given by Arab physicians as a precursor to bad-tasting medicines. Tarragon contains rutin, which is being investigated as a cancer cure. As it is high in potassium, it can help regulate blood pressure levels. Use fresh in salads, not as tea, or dried in sauces and stews -- always moderately, as it is quite strong.
THYME This herbs goes back to Biblical times, and in Greece lambs were made to graze on fields of wild thyme to make their meat more tasty. A Middle Eastern variety is called Zatar, which is used abundantly in cured olives, spinach pies, grilled vegetables, and herbed breads. Thyme contains a volatile oil, thymol, with antiseptic and antibacterial properties. It helps keep mouths and gums healthy, and helps heal coughs. Therefore is often used in commercial mouthwashes and commercial cough syrups. Thyme tea is excellent for fighting chest colds: steep 2 tablespoons fresh or 1 tablespoon dried thyme in boiling water for 4 minutes. Five drops of essential oil of thyme in ½ cup olive or grapeseed oil makes a fine massage oil, good to combat coughs, sore throats, colds, and cranky digestion. Massage into chest, throat, feet, or back.
Thyme is also useful as a food preservative. The USDA reports that thyme, peppermint and cinnamon seem effective to keep potatoes from spouting