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  • Redwood Naturopathic Medicine

Herbs and Their Medicinal Properties: Part 2

"Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food,"

-Hippocrates


In today’s day in age, fast fixes and quick prescriptions are the go-to when sick. It is all too easy to lose sight of the reality that the food we consume is one of the finest medicines we can find (and it does not cause collateral damage like most over-the-counter medications). Not to mention, the more we pay attention to using food as medicine, the less we will need prescribed medicine. Consuming a healthy diet is one of these most powerful methods of preventative medicine. When we know more about foods' beneficial and therapeutic characteristics, we can make better decisions about what to include daily. One way to do this is by incorporating herbs into the daily diet. Herbs contain phytonutrients, which combine to create the diverse flavors and colors we experience with each herb. Adding herbs to your meals is a delicious tool for disease prevention. When consumed in larger quantities, herbs can relieve acute symptoms such as headache, stomach upset, and nausea.

Herbs can be easily sourced from your local grocery store or grown in your backyard! Organic fresh herbs offer the most potent medicinal benefits, but dried herbs are a great option if limited with space and time.

There are many herbs out there, so if you are struggling with where to begin, start incorporating the following three herbs daily! These three herbs are readily available at any grocery store and are potent healers.

Garlic


Garlic is a staple, widely across many different cultures worldwide for the last 3000 years. Providing not only a delicious flavor to any meal, garlic also has a wide variety of medicinal benefits. Garlic is most potent medicinally when consumed fresh and raw. First, garlic is rich in micronutrients such as vitamin C, manganese, vitamin B6, selenium, and fiber. Second, garlic is known as Earth's natural antibiotic. Garlic has potent antimicrobial and antiviral properties and can inhibit the growth of many different types of bacteria and fungus. Lastly, garlic is excellent for the cardiovascular system by positively impacts reducing blood pressure and lowering LDL cholesterol.

Though garlic is found in many different forms, garlic powder and other processed forms of garlic have been seen to cause digestive upset. There is less likelihood of digestive upset if consumed in fresh and raw. Start incorporating a couple of cloves of fresh garlic every day into your food. Below is a recipe for simple yet delicious salad dressing!

Lemon-Garlic Vinaigrette

2 cloves garlic

1/2 lemon juiced

1/2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

1/2 tsp dijon mustard

3-4 tbsp EVOO

Directions:

Chop garlic finely and combine all ingredients into a small jar. Shake the jar until the dressing is evenly mixed, and enjoy on your favorite salad!

Parsley



Parsley is an herb native to the Mediterranean region in Southern Europe, and this powerful medicinal herb has so much more to offer than just garnishing some of our favorite dishes. Parsley is rich in iron and vitamin C; vitamin C is necessary for the body to absorb iron. Making parsley a great option for those who are anemic or just looking to build their iron stores. Apigenin, a potent phytochemical present in parsley, can help improve brain functioning, memory, and learning. Currently, this phytochemical is under research to help other neural disorders such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and depression. Parsley is rich in beta-carotene, which is then converted to Vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is known to help boost eye health and provide extra protection for the retina.

For those of you dog owners, sneak a little parsley into your dog's food to help protect their teeth and freshen their breath!

Parsley Pesto

1 C packed fresh Italian parsley

2 tbsp chopped walnuts

3 cloves minced garlic

1/2 tsp lemon zest

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

4 tbsp EVOO

Instructions

In food processor combine parsley and walnuts. Add garlic, lemon peel, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Process until well mixed. Add oil and process until well mixed.

Enjoy immediately or save in fridge for up to 4 days!

Holy Basil, or Tulsi



This sweet, fragrant herb was grown originally in Asia and the Middle East and has been used worldwide medicinally and in cooking for thousands of years. Tulsi has been used as a digestive aid due to its anti-inflammatory effect on the digestive tract. Try chewing on basil leaves before or after a meal to reduce nausea, bloating, gas, and other uncomfortable symptoms that arise from an upset digestive system. Holy basil is can also function as an adaptogen, which can help your body adapt to stress and support neural activity. Try incorporating tulsi tea into your day when you are feeling stressed or right before bed. One of the main compounds in tulsi, triterpenoid ursolic acid, promotes skin healing and elasticity. Ursolic acid is an anti-inflammatory and an anti-tumor agent, so there is research currently being done about a potentially positive role tulsi can play in reducing the incidence of skin cancer.

Tulsi, a common herb used in Ayurvedic medicine, is said to help strengthen the respiratory system and promote circulation.

Post-Digestion Tea

8 oz Hot Water

1 tbsp dried tulsi leaves

1 in of fresh ginger root, chopped

Honey (to taste)

Combine all ingredients and let steep for 5-8 minutes. Enjoy!


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