Updated: May 28
Are you one of those people whose relationship with herbs consists solely of what sits in your spice drawer? If so, that's totally okay but allow me to widen the scope...
When was the last time you thought about herbs as allies? Have you ever? Well, guess what?!
'Tis true, my friends!
Plain and simple, herbs are your friends and they offer far more than just spicing up your meals.
Herbs are MEDICINE. In this day and age of allopathic, modern medicine, quick fixes and white pills, it's quite easy to forget that plants were the very first medicine. While I won't disagree that western, modern medicine has its place (it ABSOLUTELY DOES and if you need it, USE it. I surely do), I will argue that, whenever possible, herbs can be an excellent first stop and they are often mine. I am much faster to turn to my herbs than to Tylenol but I certainly won't judge you if your instincts send you down a different road.
Either way, allow me to present to you just a few points about herbs that get me excited and made me fall in love with them. My hope is that you may consider their possibility and place in your life as well. (And we can start in your spice drawer! Hello, rosemary for inflammation and pain!)
Here are some obvious -- and not so obvious benefits of herbs (and spices):
Herbs are excellent supporters of the immune system. An out of balance immune system can leave us vulnerable to and at risk of infection and is likely complicit in autoimmune disorders, certain cancers, seasonal allergies and overall feelings of malaise. Herbs can help regulate and strengthen the immune system which is one of our greatest defenses against the pathogens that lead to disease and illness. Imagine the immune system as the wall surrounding the castle during medieval war time; you'd want that wall strong, reinforced and well-defended. Herbs can help you do that for the body.
(psst, you can start here with ElixCyia's Immune Boost Tea!)
Herbs are high in antioxidants. We've all heard of antioxidants, right? These are molecules that fight free radicals or oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress is implicated in multiple illnesses including premature aging, arthritis, cancer, liver disease, diabetes and heart disease. Our bodies already have antioxidant defenses in place but the added support, which can be found in herbs and spices (and lots of different foods) can only help further defend the Temple of You. PS: free radicals aren't ALL bad -- you need some of them -- but the concern is about the BALANCE of both free radicals and antioxidants. Yet another reason to let your herbs love you. PSS: Imbibing a little too much in quarantine? Give your liver some love too. Let herbs Love your Liver!
Herbs are anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory.
Well, not every herb is all of those but most herbs are at least one and many are more than one kind of 'anti'. They serve multiple purposes and can do so in a much gentler way than a lot of modern medicine (ahem, anti-biotics). Herbs can kill a pathogen WITHOUT killing everything else in comes into contact with, thereby helping the natural ecosystem of the body to stay balanced. Herbal medicine -- specific plants -- can be chosen to for specific issues and/or types of infections, viruses and fungal infections. It is magical, really.
Here ya go for some ElixCyia Anti-viral goodness: Yes, please!
Herbs support and strengthen digestion.
Need I say more? We are learning more and more about the importance of gut health.
If you experience nausea, constipation, bloating, gas, unpredictable appetite, heartburn or abdominal pain (go to a Doc for any issue that presents as pain), you have an issue in the gut and herbs can can help here.
Herbs are awesome mind-calmers, anxiety-quieters, meditation-helpers, sleep-aids and company-keepers.
I drink tea like others go to church. I worship at the altar of herbal tea.
Herbs support the central nervous system (CNS) beautifully. We want the CNS supported because if it falls out of whack, it can lead to emotional stress and we all know where that goes:
Chronic stress, emotional stress, physical stress (hello, overworking, constantly-racing-around people) are linked to the 6 leading causes of death in the USA (shout out to the Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences and the author, Mohd Razali Salleh from whom I borrowed that factoid).
You are not meant to be running on fumes. You are not meant to be spread thin and to feel like you could cry on a moment's notice (unless you're an actor and need them tears for award season scenes in which case, I hope you win). You are not meant to feel scattered and anxious. You are not meant to be sleepless and drained. In this case, herbs are YOUR BEST FRIENDS.
They can help you regulate, recalibrate and calm yourself.
And that is good.
Two excellent ways to support your CNS here. Both powerful, both yummy.
Herbs are high in vitamins and minerals.
Need I say more?
Herbs help us feel connected to Mother Earth.
Remember her? She loves you sooooo much that she made you all sorts of herbs, plants, flowers and trees that can support your body and help you thrive.
Good stuff, huh? The blessings of herbs is vast. Certainly far larger than a simple spice drawer.
Use them in your kitchen (hopefully even more now) and consider their use elsewhere in your life.
Headache? Try HeadEase or a Ginger/Green Apple shot. Or a Lavender tea.
Cold coming on? Grab some Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary and make a tea with honey (all three together or alone).
Throat sore? Grab a cinnamon stick (ideally Ceylon), a clove or two and some orange peel (dried or fresh), steep in hot water, add honey and drink as tea.
Here are some more examples of kitchen herbs as healing allies:
Cayenne: Increases circulation, reduces risk of heart disease, improves absorption of other nutrients
Mint: Alleviates nausea; calms digestive troubles; contains essential oils; can be used to repel mosquitoes
Cinnamon: High in antioxidants; reduces inflammation; lowers/regulates blood sugar and blood triglyceride levels; alleviates nausea; increases sensitivity to insulin; provides calcium, iron, and magnesium
Garlic: Aids in reducing blood pressure and cholesterol; improves cardiovascular health; being studied for its anti-cancer properties
Basil: Anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties; helps with digestive disorders and prevention of osteoarthritis; being studied for its anti-cancer properties (HealthPro)
There's so much more, naturally.
I am not suggesting you give up one kind of medicine for the other.
I am suggesting that there is a thyme & place for each. (see what I did there?)
Be mindful, seek support from a herbalist or a naturopath.
Listen to your body.
Go to the Dr or ER if trouble arises.
May you find your balance and may you allow yourself whatever support you need.
See ElixCyia for my herbal remedies. More coming soon!