Different cultures over the millennia have gone about their lives differently, but one thing which is common among them is the use of herbs both as everyday foods as well as for healing purposes.
In reality, herbs are simply foods with perhaps stronger medicinal properties.
Some are particularly potent, and should thus be used with care. Many, however, can be safely incorporated as part of one’s daily diet. Here, a few useful herbs which can really make a difference to your health if consumed regularly over a prolonged period are discussed.
Take in the Pungent Power of Garlic
Garlic is perhaps one of the most healthful herbs known to Man. It was used by many ancient civilizations, including the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, to boost strength and ward off disease. Today, thousands of controlled studies validate the many health benefits of this amazing food.
Garlic is a good source of various vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients, including vitamin C and selenium. It is also said to have over 80 sulfur-based compounds – natural chemicals which are largely responsible for its numerous healthful effects – of which allicin is the best researched. One of garlic’s most well-known medicinal properties is its broad-based antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal as well as anti-parasitic effects.
Garlic’s use in this regard has stretched a long time, and the major advantage of using garlic for this purpose over the use of conventional antibiotics is that the harmful organisms do not develop resistance to the herb. Unlike antibiotics, it is able to work against most, if not all, types of the bad guys, too.
Further, there are minimal or no dangerous side effects, and garlic also does not wipe out the good bacteria in the body, which leads to follow-up health issues such as infections and candida yeast overgrowth. Garlic is widely available and highly affordable, too.
Due to its antimicrobial properties, garlic had been used in Europe to help ward off the plague, and also used to fend off relatively minor illnesses like colds, coughs and other respiratory ailments. This herb can help fight chicken pox, mumps, cholera, dysentery, tuberculosis and intestinal worms, as well as many other diseases, too. It said that, during the world wars, the British used garlic for treating wounded soldiers, when they were out of sulfur drugs.
The anti-cancer potential of garlic is well documented in both epidemiological studies as well controlled laboratory trials. Garlic also has strong chelation properties, being able to remove certain harmful metals from the human body.
Further, garlic helps boost the immune system, regulate blood pressure, improve one’s cholesterol profile, boost heart and cardiovascular health, improve circulation and lower risk of strokes and heart attacks by thinning the blood, as well as deal with digestive conditions and rheumatism.
So recognized are garlic’s healthful properties that, in some countries, the herb is actually prescribed to treat certain health conditions, most notably high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
The most effective way to harness the benefits of garlic would be to consume it fresh and raw. In general, garlic bulbs which consist of large, whitish cloves are of better quality; conversely, many small, yellowish cloves signify poorer quality.
Ideally, the garlic should be chopped or minced into fine pieces and left alone for about ten minutes; this allows chemical reactions to take place and beneficial compounds to form. The same can be done if you are cooking with garlic, although in this case, you would probably want to use a lot more of the herb, as a large proportion of its healthful properties are destroyed in the process.
Raw garlic can take quite a bit of getting used to, so a good suggestion would be to start with small doses, perhaps 3 cloves a day, and slowly work your way up. Taking it with food also reduces the potential “burning” effects in the stomach.
Sizzle with Hot Cayenne Pepper
Another excellent herb to include as part of your daily dietary regime is cayenne pepper.
One of the foremost compounds in cayenne is capsaicin, which gives the herb its “hotness” and spiciness. Somewhat ironically, this substance actually gives cayenne the soothing effect it has on one’s digestive tract. Digestive tract ailments such as stomach cramps and acid reflux could thus benefit from the use of cayenne.
Cayenne’s most potent healthful property is its ability to stimulate circulation. It raises body temperature and improves blood circulation; if you have ever taken cayenne pepper and felt your face flush, you would know all about this. In this regard, cayenne benefits various circulatory conditions, and also gives heart and overall cardiovascular health a boost.
Further, cayenne has the effect of improving the fast and even distribution of nutrients which are consumed; for this reason, cayenne is included as part of many herbal formulas, to improve the effectiveness of other herbs which are used. Indeed, whatever natural health remedies you are using, cayenne can be very helpful.
Cayenne also helps to regulate your blood pressure, provide relief from inflammatory joint conditions, lessen pain and itching, tackle infections, improve digestion, relieve constipation as well as alleviate sore throats.
In addition, cayenne is able to stop bleeding quickly and effectively, and this applies to both internal and external bleeding. Because of this and the other properties of cayenne, this herb has been used for numerous emergency type situations, including fainting, shocks, bleeding, and even strokes and heart attacks.
Ground cayenne, in powder form, can be added to meals or mixed with warm water and consumed as a tea. Generally speaking, the hotter the peppers, the more powerful their health properties will be. Cayenne which is rated at about 200,000 heat units can be considered very strong. Liquid extracts can also be used, although those are more commonly used in emergency situations. Even if you do not consume cayenne regularly, this herb is very useful to have in your herbal cabinet.
Almost like garlic, cayenne has quite literally too many health benefits to mention in a short article. And, also like garlic, cayenne is a potent herb, and your body might thus take some time to adjust to it. As always, it is a good idea to start with a small dosage and slowly work your way up. One possible starting dosage is 1/8 teaspoon of powered cayenne per day, with the final target a daily dose of 3 teaspoons.
Enjoy Turmeric the Curry Herb
Turmeric is the herb used to prepare curries, and it has also been used in both India and China to treat many health ailments. The herb is a good source of potassium and vitamin C, and its numerous health benefits include the ability to improve appetite, decrease high blood pressure, help with digestive ailments, alleviate menstrual issues, as well as treat coughs, rheumatic pains, jaundice and infections. It is also beneficial for liver health.
In addition, turmeric has known anti-inflammatory properties. Further, recent studies have shown turmeric to aid cancer patients, slowing the disease or reducing the severity of its symptoms.
Curcumin, which is the pigment that provides the bright yellow color, is the most well known compound in turmeric and probably responsible for a significant part of the herb’s health benefits. Curcumin itself has immune boosting, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. A recent study also found that this compound improves the health of body cells by influencing the behavior of cell membranes.
Like cayenne, turmeric which is ground into powder can be sprinkled on your daily dishes.
Conclusion – Embrace the Potent Herbal Trio
Garlic, cayenne, and turmeric each have long histories of use for medicinal purposes and, used regularly as part of an overall health-promoting dietary regimen, can very likely make a difference to your health and well-being. Their unique qualities also make them useful additions to a full body detoxification and natural healing program.
Whether you are looking to prevent disease or overcome them, this herbal trio has an important part to play. And, of course, it would be ideal to get hold of organic varieties of these herbs.
This article was written for HealthyNewAge by All 4 Natural Health, a site dedicated to attaining good health naturally.