10 Healing herbs you should include in your food intake

Last Updated on

Much like the pharmaceutical drugs, nature has its own unique pharmacopeia which can be found in the form of herbs, spices and other nutritionally rich foods. These natural remedies have been central to medicine cabinets for thousands of years across all continents.

Below are 10 healing herbs everyone should have on hand, all of which are usually easy to find. Let’s dive right into their benefits and how you can use them!

1.   Cilantro

Cilantro, also known as coriander, is a warming, delectable herb that is commonly cooked with in many parts of the world. Cilantro usually refers to the leaves of the herb, while coriander refers to the seeds, both of which have a high medicinal value.

This herb helps to remove impurities from the blood, reduce inflammation, kill bacteria and fungi and even works like a pain killer[1]! Studies reveal that Coriander protects the liver and has anti-diabetic properties.

To cook with the leaves, use a small fistful in salads, sautés, soups and stews. To bring out a delicious flavor in spicy food and curries, use about 1/2tsp of coriander powder when simmering your spices upfront.

2.   Echinacea

Echinacea is a beautiful flower with big purple blossoms that has been relied on by Native American Indians and Europeans for hundreds of years.

Aside from alleviating inflammation, aiding detox and stimulating new tissue growth in wounds, Echinacea is in fact an ultimate immune booster[2]. It increases the number of immune cells your body makes, has a mild antibacterial action and prevents bacteria from accessing healthy cells, slowing the spread of infection.

You can beat flu season by using Echinacea drops, brewing tea from the flowers or adding them directly into smoothies and salads. To brew the tea, use 1-2tsp of the dried flowers and steep in hot water for 15mins.

3.   Ginger

Ginger is a slow growing root with a spicy flavor that certainly gives extra value to the proverb “all good things take time”. This herb has been used both for creating delicious cuisine and treating many ailments, making it ideal for your medicinal kitchen cabinet.

The research[3]reflects that Ginger is great at aiding those with:

·     Arthritis

·     Cancer

·     Diabetes

·     Heart Disease

·     Hypertension

·     Indigestion

·     Inflammation

·     Nausea

·     Neurodegeneration

To use this herb for cooking, it’s best to buy ginger powder, adding less than 1/4tsp to your meals, baked goods or smoothies. You can always add more if you enjoy the spicy flavor! It also works well with both sweet and savory dishes, as well as with turmeric and other culinary herbs.

To make the tea, use about half an inch of the root, diced and steeped in hot water for at least 10mins in your mug.

4.   Lavender

Everyone knows that lavender is something that smells as pretty as it looks, but what many don’t know is that this wondrous herb soothes your entire body from head to toe! 

It has such potent anti-inflammatory effects that it can prevent scarring, calm your nervous system, help sleep and drastically lower anxiety levels. Lavender has also been shown to stop stomach cramps[4]and kill off bacteria and fungi.

The best way to use lavender is by getting some essential oil and diffusing it around your home. You can also add a few drops into creams and ointments for helping skin conditions. For an instant calming effect, you can also try brewing a handful of lavender flowers in hot water for 20mins.

5.   Licorice

If you are suffering from bouts of little to no energy, then Licorice root can probably do the trick!

This flavorsome herb is known as an adaptogen, meaning that it can help to restore your energy levels, particularly in connection to adrenal fatigue. Those who want to reduce their caffeine intake will find major relief in licorice! Licorice root also has strong anti-inflammatory properties and can destroy tumors[5]. 

Since it has such a strong flavor and effect, one only needs to use very little at a time. Add 1/4tsp licorice powder to smoothies or teas or opt for a licorice root extract supplement. Do not use more than 3000mg per day and take a break after 3 months of use. 

6.   Milk Thistle 

Milk thistle is a pretty dandelion-look-alike plant. This herb’s seeds are commonly used as an extract or in teas for pain relief, detox and liver restoration[6]. This makes it ideal to add to herbal concoctions when you have the flu. 

It can greatly aid those with liver disease, cancer, Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, and diabetes. Since it has such advanced liver protection, rehabbing alcoholics, drug addicts or those wanting to quit pain killers will benefit immensely.

To make Milk Thistle tea, steep 1tsp of the seeds in a mug of warm water for a minimum of 20mins.

7.   Nettle

If you are looking for something even more nutritious than Kale, then you have found your match!

Stinging nettle is a bitter herb that has been used for thousands of years to cure nutritional deficiencies, boost immune function and treat a wide variety of ailments, such as hypertension[7], anemia and diabetes[8]. When cooked, it doesn’t sting and tastes like a refreshing version of Kale with a hint of cucumber.

Trace minerals research highlights that Nettle is loaded with many trace minerals, which is key to it’s healing ability. With substantial amounts of iron, magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese, potassium, and selenium, nettle adds a value to your diet like no other herb!

To incorporate this miracle plant into your diet, cook 1-2cups of the leaves or brew 2 tablespoons of the dried herb for at least 20mins in hot water.

8.   Oregano 

Oregano or Origanum is a delicious herb often used with tomato-based dishes in Italian cuisine. 

This herb has both potent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, acting as an effective anti-biotic[9], detoxifier and protective agent against inflammatory conditions.

Use the dried herb generously when cooking with meat, pasta, tomatoes, potatoes or in making pesto.

To use as a natural anti-biotic, dilute 1 drop of Origanum oil in 1 gallon of water and drink a glass 3-5 times a day – you should be feeling better after a week! Make sure to take probiotics after to repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria. 

9.   Rosemary

Rosemary has been used for many hundreds of years to treat ailments related to the brain.

In Greek and Roman literature, a wreath of Rosemary can often be seen around the heads of scholars as a sign of remembrance – which is exactly what it does, it helps to boost your memory and cognition[10]! Rosemary is also great at boosting mood and helping aid those with depression[11].

The best way to use this herb is to cook with it, not only for it’s brain-healthy benefits but also because it tastes amazing! Use a few sprigs with lemon, olive oil and garlic in savory meals for the best results.

10.Turmeric 

Often referred to as ‘the Golden Spice’ or ‘Indian Saffron,’ Turmeric is one of the most potent anti-oxidant healing remedies you could use in your kitchen. Dating back beyond 4000 years to India, it has a very impressive history of medicinal use.

This herb has anti-tumor activity, lowers inflammation, alleviates gastric discomfort and aids respiratory problems[12].

It’s powerful antioxidant effects have proven useful for those with chronic diseases, such as arthritis, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Sadly, our bodies absorb very little of it at a time, so you need to consume small amounts of it frequently. Using either cayenne pepper or black pepper helps increase it’s absorption (and flavor!).

Include turmeric in as much of your cooking as possible to reap the benefits, adding about 1/2tsp to lightly-simmering oil with other herbs to extract flavor before adding vegetables or other liquids. You can also add about 1/8tsp to sweet smoothies, savory spreads and pickled ferments for an anti-oxidant boost.

NOTE: be careful when working with it as it will stain your clothes yellow!

Final Thoughts

Nature always provides for us. This becomes all-the-more clear when exploring the medicinal power of healing herbs. By making use of these common kitchen ingredients, you are on your way to living a longer, healthier life.

[1]http://www.academicjournals.org/journal/AJPP/article-abstract/BA5A7BF33531

[2]http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2001/4/report_ancient/page-01?p=1

[3]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3665023/

[4]https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874103002344

[5]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30055311

[6]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17548793

[7]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30097121

[8]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29749986

[9]https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf950540t

[10]https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0367326X13002578

[11]https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00207450390161903

[12]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/