Healthy with Kitchen Herbs:
la Simon & Garfunkle: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme
Keeping healthy with kitchen herbs means thinking of ways to use your
kitchen spice shelf as a medicinal resource. If you do little cooking, or if
your spices are more than a year old, you'll need to get a fresh supply. Good
quality spices make for tastier foods as well as more effective medicine.
(Please note: if you have a serious medical condition, please consult a medical
Sometimes the simplest of kitchen spices that we take for granted are
among the most useful medicinally. Of the following four herbs, three of them
contain very strong essential oils that can really aid in fighting off illness.
Parsley, while not as strong as its other companions, nonetheless is a very
useful herb. Parsley, Petroselinum crispum, a member of the Umbelliferae
family, acts as a diuretic, expectorant, emmenogogue, carminative and,
according to some, may even be an aprodisiac. (So in a restaurant, eat parsley,
rather than throwing it out.)
has several uses. First, because of its diuretic action, it helps the body
gently get rid of excess water. As an emmenogogue, parsley can be used to bring
on the menstrual period, so it is recommended that pregnant women avoid
consuming medicinal dosages of it. Another use of the herb is as a carminative,
which can ease flatulence.
Sage, Salvia officinalis, decreases secretions of all kinds—whether from lactation, sweating,
salivation or especially from excessive
mucus secretions of the sinuses and bronchi. Brew a strong tea from sage leaves
for a good gargle for sore throats, for sage is antiseptic.
when I have a runny nose and I want to sleep without dripping all over the
place, I will brew up a cup of tea about a half hour before going to bed. I
find this often drys up my sinuses enough to allow me to sleep easier.
Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis, is an antioxidant, astringent, somewhat antibacterial,
carminative, antiseptic, cholagogue, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenogogue
(stimulates menstruation) and nervine.
properties are one of the reasons rosemary is used so extensively in cooking.
In the days before refrigeration, spices helped to preserve food.
Because rosemary helps
increase blood circulation and strengthens the capillaries (small blood
vessels), it can have an uplifting and strengthening effect on your brain, and
therefore, the herb has a reputation for being good for poor memory.
Rosemary is a
diaphoretic for colds, flu and fever. It can help to relieve tension headaches.
You can also inhale it for bronchial/lung infections or sinus infections.
Rosemary is contraindicated (in other words, do not use) in medicinal doses
during pregnancy. In Europe, rosemary is known as a liver herb. It especially
helps the body in digesting fats.
Powdered rosemary is
antiseptic and can be placed on minor cuts and scrapes.
Thyme, Thymus vulgaris, like almost all spices, is a good carminative. Using it helps the body
eliminate gas, nausea, stomach aches, and even helps prevent vomiting.
It's a powerful antiseptic. Drunk as
a tea or eaten in food, its essential oils are excreted through the lungs,
kidneys and skin.
If you use the actual distilled
essential oil instead of the herb, use no more than three drops per day, more
likely one to two drops per day. The essential oil is a powerful fungicide--try
it in a humidifier. Applied directly to the skin, the essential oil would be
irritating. Mix several drops in a neutral carrier oil such as olive, apricot
kernal or jojoba oil, to cut it. Thyme is contraindicated (in other words, do
not use) during pregnancy in medicinal quantities.
Novak is a Certified Medicinal Herbalist, who teaches about wild-crafting
edible plants and using herbs to create better health and balance in our lives.
She is also the owner of Beads N Botanicals, a local shop in downtown Urbana,
Beads N Botanicals Facebook
Labels: better health through herbs, herbal medicine in Champaign Urbana, medicinal herbs