A few of these uses follow.
GARLIC. This is one of my favorite herbal remedies. Fresh garlic
taken raw possesses antibacterial, antifungal and lipid-lowering
properties (4). Garlic is also very effective home care for preventing
or treating the influenza virus (5). At the first sign of a cold
or flu I recommend mincing raw, organic cloves of garlic and eating
close to 5-6 cloves daily for 7 days. When used at this dose, garlic's
potent scent usually creates a sort of "aroma quarantine"
around you, not a bad idea when you're ill. Although garlic's medicinal
constituents are largely inactivated by the heat of cooking, copious
amounts of garlic added to a vegetable sautee is tasty kitchen medicine.
GINGER. This is a wonderful root for treating motion sickness.
Homemade ginger root tea, tablets of organic ginger or genuine ginger
ale dosed before and during a car, plane or boat ride reliably prevents
motion sickness. In addition to the appropriate diagnostic care
to find out the cause, a warm cup of ginger root tea is great therapy
for any "tummy ache".
DANDELION ROOT & GREENS. Root and leaf of dandelion can
be eaten as a food in salads, steamed or sauteed as well as used
as a tea. Dandelion root has been found to exert antitumor effects
in studies on mammary carcinoma in mice due to its activation of
macrophages (6). Dandelion is an excellent source of potassium in
addition to being perhaps the best widely applicable diuretic and
liver tonic in the herbal medicine cabinet (8).
HAWTHORNE. Many medical herbalists and most naturopathic doctors,
including myself, consider hawthorne the quintessential tonic plant
for the heart. Hawthorne has been proven a clinically effective
medicine for European men and women with a form of heart failure
referred to as stage II cardiac insufficiency (4). Hawthorne fruit,
leaf and flowers contain compounds called oligomeric procyanidins
which increase blood flow to the heart muscle and improve the force
generated by the contracting heart (4). These same compounds present
in hawthorne can also be found in smaller amounts in blueberries,
cherries, blackberries and grapes and are one of the reasons why
these fruits are healthy choices for your heart. A solid extract
of Hawthorne spread like a jam on a morning apple or toasted whole
grain bread is a heart-smart food choice.
PEPPERMINT. Leaf tea or oil of peppermint has a direct antispasmodic
action on the smooth muscle of the digestive tract (4). In crampy
abdominal pain such as occurs with irritable bowel syndrome or after
a meal eaten in haste, peppermint tea or enterically-coated capsules
of peppermint oil can bring relief without the need for either over-the-counter
pills or pharmaceuticals. As an after dinner tea, peppermint is
a wonderful choice to aid digestion (8).
TURMERIC (Curcumin). This spice contains phenolic compounds
which have antitumor and liver-protective activity. Turmeric's constituents
also increase the production of white blood cells. It is valued
by herbalists as an antioxidant-rich anticancer plant, which may
prevent the initiation stage of tumorigenesis (6). Liberal use of
this culinary spice is not only tasty; it's downright healing.
CALENDULA. Marigold flowers, referred to as calendula botanically,
prepared as a poultice, salve or cream, are excellent care for abrasions
or lacerations. After appropriate cleaning with antiseptic soap
and hydrogen peroxide, application of calendula salve reduces inflammation
and promotes granulation (healing) of a wound (4). Calendula is
a rich source of the carotenoid lutein.
REISHI. This medicinal mushroom, known as ling-zhi in China,
contains constituents which are both actively antitumor and immunostimulating.
In numerous studies on human beings, Reishi has been evaluated as
beneficial for the treatment of heart palpitations, for lowering
elevated blood pressure and for treating bronchitis (7). Reishi
can be taken as a food in soups although it is more often used as
a tea or tincture. The medicinal mushrooms, so evidenced by Reishi's
healing properties, have extraordinary potential as foods for health.
I encourage everyone interested in promoting health with plants
to read the works on healing herbs written by my friends Donny Yance,
Christopher Hobbs and Ed Smith as well as books by David Hoffman,
Penelope Ody, Michael Murray, James Duke and Susun Weed. These men
and women have practical experience as medical herbalists and their
books document the safety and science of botanical medicine.
(1) The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody,
Dorling Kindersley Inc., New York, NY, 1993
(2) Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica, Bensky
& Gamble, Eastland Press, Seattle, WA, 1986.
(3) Uses of Plants by Indians of the Missouri River
Region, Melvin R. Gilmore, University of Nebraska Press, 1991.
(4) The Complete German Commission E Monographs,
Blumenthal et al, American Botanical Council, 1998.
(5) Tsai, Cole et al, Antiviral Properties of Garlic;
in vitro effects on influenza B, herpes simplex and coxsackie viruses,
Planta Medica, 1985; 460-1.
(6) Herbal Medicine, Healing & Cancer, Donald
R. Yance, NTC Publishing. 1999.
(7) Medicinal Mushrooms An Exploration of Tradition,
Healing & Culture, 2nd edition, Christopher Hobbs, L.Ac., Botanica
(8) The Holistic Herbal, David Hoffman, Element