This week I'm broaching the topic of herbs and spices as home medicinal remedies.
I'd like to say that in no way are the suggested uses for either in this article meant to replace professional healthcare. Everyone has their own unique, individual health needs, and I do not intend to tell you how to address them.
I do intend to share some interesting ways to use items that might otherwise sit forgotten in your pantry, however.
To start, eat a lot of thyme. Cheryl Hoard, owner of Cheryl's Herbs in Maplewood, said making tea out of the herb can help some with respiratory problems, such as cold symptoms.
"It's a medicinal tea, so you want to steep it for several hours if not overnight," Hoard said. She also recommended steeping the herb loose in the water without a strainer, then straining it afterward to extract the most out of the herb.
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Fresh or dried, it doesn't matter, said Hoard. "If you have fresh herbs in your backyard, that's fabulous, but the only difference is you'll use more fresh than dried because it has more water content," Hoard said.
Probably the most well-known spice for aiding in health is ginger, most often used to prevent nausea or motion sickness. It can also help break a fever, Hoard said.
"When you break a fever on your own, you perspire," Hoard said. "Ginger will induce a sweat, which then tells your body you don't need the fever anymore."
Cayenne pepper is a near miracle spice in its potential ability to help maintain a healthy blood system, she said. It's also a natural coagulant, along with other types of pepper (I have experienced this to be true - if you cut yourself, in the kitchen or otherwise, put black or another kind of pepper on the wound, and it will stop bleeding much faster).
"There have been instances where people's lives have been saved by cayenne," Hoard said.
Other potentially beneficial herbs and spices include rosemary, which supposedly serves as a good antibacterial and anti-inflammatory herb for health issues like arthritis. Hoard said it's great for focus and concentration as well.
According to the American Cancer Society, turmeric has been reported to stop certain types of cancer cells from growing, and, according to the Mayo Clinic, recent research has shown cinnamon, when used as a supplement, can improve blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes.
Hoard's stance is that any herb that can help manage stress is a great way to prevent future health problems. She recommended tonic herbs like lapacho and Astragalus root, both used in traditional Chinese medicine that support most body systems for the herb novice.
"There are so many herbs and aromatherapy products that help manage stress," Hoard said. But, the shop owner does not claim to be a doctor by any means.
"I try to speak to the public about things that they can treat at home," she said.
Cheryl's Herbs is located at 7170 Manchester Rd. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday through Saturday.