The Humble Kitchen Healers
The most remarkable, magical and exotic treasures from around the world are sitting in your kitchen pantry or growing in your garden right now!
In addition to their delicious taste, spices and herbs can greatly increase the health benefits of your meals. They also help with digestion and assimilation. Some spices and herbs are anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal and some contain powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. There are also those that help stabilize blood sugar, reduce pain, regulate women’s cycle, burns fat and works like an aphrodisiac – just to begin with.
To bring the most out of them, cook them with your food or sauté them in ghee or cold processed oils and add them to your meals. For best assimilation of the benefits of therapeutic spices, eat them cooked, instead of sprinkling raw spices over foods. Ayurvedic spices such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, saffron, cinnamon and cardamom offer rich and varied aroma and flavor besides helping to balance different body constitution and enhancing the metabolism. They can transform simple dishes into feasts for all your senses, providing fulfillment and contentment from meals.
In the past kitchen spices were used in every household and many knew how to heal themselves using common spices and herbs in teas or infusions. Everyday ailments and minor injuries did not wait for medical attention. Think about it maybe there was someone if you family who made you the ginger, honey and lemon tea, or a chicken soup or soft Khichadi [rice and lentil mish mash]. Let’s revive the disappearing kitchen tradition and bring out the best herbs and spices for healing. Some of these herbs and spices have already made it to a Health Food Stores! Cinnamon. Ginger, Garlic, Turmeric , Cayenne, Basil, Sage and Thyme is often seen at the health food stores. Indeed the kitchen is where you are likely to find your first aid kit elements.
“No matter what ailment we suffer from, we can always do something ourselves to enhance our well-being.” – Hedley and Shaw.
Before I tell you the values of these spices and herbs note that the kitchen healers are by definition safe, otherwise we wouldn’t purchase them in the first place! However it is the amount/quantity that you can take in will make it either medicine or poison. Always remember they are not intended to be taken in large dosages. Please use them intelligently or ask someone who knows more about them. Be specifically careful when giving it to children and elderly because they need it is lesser amount.
Another tip I have for you is know your Dosha or specific body constitution. Once you figure out your Dosha you will know which spices and herbs are best for you. This way you can derive maximum benefit from the spices and herbs. Google a Dosha Test or Quiz and find out your body type! I will mention in this blog which kitchen healers are most beneficial for specific dosha [Vata, Pitta and Kapha] and which are suitable for all Doshas.
Let us start with the humble spices sitting in our kitchen pantry.
Turmeric: Fresh turmeric is a root looks like a ginger. The inside of the turmeric is bright yellow-orange. This pigment is called “curcumin” which is the active ingredient of this super spice. I actually own a book that is solely on turmeric and lists many benefits of this spice. Good news is this spice is suitable for all three doshas! Turmeric is pungent and bitter therefore is pacifies Kapha and Vata. It is also astringent and therefore it is also good for Pitta dosha. Benefits are listed below
Anti-inflammatory: therefore helps in reducing pain and inflammation.
Anti-septic: I use it for minor cuts, burns and bruises. I directly apply the turmeric on the wound.
Memory: Most effective is slowing down Alzheimer’s disease because is decreases inflammation and oxidation of the brain.
Highly effective against diseases like irritable bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s, and arthritis.
It helps with digestion, maintains the intestinal flora and reduces gas.
Turmeric also improves liver function, lowers homocysteine and prevents heart disease.
It is also known and researched for its anti-cancer properties.
Used in Asian countries to make skin look beautiful. It has also been used for boils, rashes, acne and other skin disorders.
Supports bile production to break down fats for optimal cholesterol level.
It also helps to reduces stress and anxiety.
Turmeric has high anti-oxidant properties and works as well as Vitamin C and E.
For maximum benefit heat 1 cup of milk [you can use nut mylk too if allergic to dairy] and add 1 tsp. of organic or homemade ground turmeric. I am being specific about the source because it will have zero filler mixed into it. Also try to add it in your soups, salad dressings, tea, curry and even eggs. Turmeric absorbs well in our when it is combined with black pepper.
Cinnamon: In Ayurveda it is mentioned that cinnamon is sweet, pungent, bitter and heating. It decreases Vata and Kapha but aggravates Pitta if taken in excess. This spice said to have highest anti-oxidant properties. Benefits of this spice are listed below:
Cinnamon helps stabilize blood sugar making it effective for those who suffer from diabetes.
It also helps lower cholesterol and triglycerides levels.
It can help reduce belly fat. Therefore it has incredible benefit for people with excess weight.
Cinnamon also has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and helps relieve pain and stiffness in muscles and joints, including arthritis.
Cinnamon has a positive effect on brain function, and smelling cinnamon, or chewing cinnamon flavored gum, can possibly help improve memory and attention.
It also reduces inflammation in blood vessels that leads to atherosclerosis and heart disease, as well as having antifungal and antibacterial properties
Cinnamon can also be used for common cold, congestion and cough.
For maximum benefit drink cinnamon tea. Boil water and add 6-7 cinnamon sticks. Let it cool and drink it. Add it to your oatmeal or healthy baking recipes. Or you can add cinnamon in smoothies, yogurt or in your coffee.
Cloves: It is a pungent and heating spice therefore it increases Pitta but pacifies Kapha and Vata. Clove is anti-microbial and it used in many “Parasite Cleanse” kits. Clove is also known for its highest levels of antioxidant.
The oil in cloves kills bacteria and is very effective when applied to scrapes, cuts, fungal infections, itchy rashes, bites, burns, or bruises. Cloves also help digestive problems like gas, indigestion, nausea and vomiting. A drop of clove essential is effective cleaning even ink stains.
Clove is best known for its ability to relieve tooth and gum pain.
Holy Basil or Tulsi: Holy basil is known as “The Incomparable One”, “The Mother Medicine of Nature”, and “The Queen of Herbs”. I have personally used holy basil for stress reduction and lowering blood sugar. It is a great source of Vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, potassium, beta carotene and Vitamin C. It is a powerful antioxidant that prevents from free radical damage. Below are the health benefits of Tulsi
Tulsi is an adaptogenic herb and used to reduce stress and anxiety
Tulsi will boost immunity and increase vitality
Supports us through the cold and winter month.
Promotes healthy metabolism
Known for promoting longevity
Protects us from radiation
Tulsi is especially effective in supporting the heart, blood vessels, liver and lungs and also regulates blood pressure and blood sugar.” Dr. Ralph Miller, former Director of Research for the Canadian Dept. of Health and Welfare.
Tulsi/Holy Basil is also an effective anti-inflammatory herb with extraordinary healing benefits that work for arthritis, allergies, and inflammatory bowel conditions, to name a just a few. In addition, basil helps kill harmful bacteria that cause food poisoning including: Listeria, Staph, and E. coli.
The way of Ayurvedic Herbs – Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa and Micheal Tierra
Ayurvedic Cooking – Dr. Vasant Lad and Usha Lad
Kitchen Medicine – Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal