Herbs, vegetables and whole grains are magic healers, but they do not work like pharmaceutical medications. For them to do their magic they need time, they need patience, and they need consistency. They need to be part of your everyday life. They need to be integrated into your everyday cooking.
Most people I meet underestimate the power of their kitchen. And, that is mainly because they expect the healing food to work like pharmaceuticals. They expect their symptoms to just vanish with one or two ‘doses’! Unfortunately food does not work this way. Your food heals your body from inside out.
I can’t claim that taking an herbal tea or a warm broth can deal with your headache or joint pain as quick as your analgesic or painkiller tablets. Unfortunately, they won’t. Herbs and healing foods do not tackle the symptoms as much as they deal with the root cause to achieve total body restoration. This deep healing process takes some time. It takes some time to restore your energy, strengthen your bones, heal your wounds or turn off the inflammation furnace in your brain that this concussion caused.
Many people find it easier to swallow a pill or pop up a capsule than work on deep restoration and integrate healing foods into their daily diet. Sometimes, the pain is so severe, we need to start with medications to control our symptoms or ease our pains. But, let’s not forget that the medications are just a temporary relief. We still need to boost the internal healing power of the body. And, here comes the magic of our kitchen remedies.
When I am suggesting for you to add healing food to your daily regimen, I certainly don’t mean the sprinkle of oregano hidden under the pile of mozzarella on your pizza or the spring of parsley that decorates your dinner steak. For the herbs and healing foods to do their magic, you need way more than that.
Here are my five essential ways to boost the healing power of your diet:
- Add healing power to your Soups and stews.
- Thicken soups with whole grains like oat, quinoa or millet.
- Add cardamom, star anise, rosemary, basil, parsley, coriander, thyme, or nettles to your broth.
- Add some cubes of roots and rhizomes like burdock, dandelion, sweet potato, or pumpkins to the recipe.
- Try herbal teas.
- Herbal teas like Peppermint, caraway, and anise are great for your digestion. They help with gas and bloating, abdominal spasms and irritable bowel and they help you manage many side effects of the painkiller medications.
- Lemon balm tea is calming and mood lifting. It helps with stress and anxiety.
- Passionflower, lavender and chamomile help you sleep smoothly.
- Sage is great for your memory, focus and concentration.
- Fennel is great for both your digestion and respiration. It also helps balancing female hormones and many depressive symptoms of PMS.
- Thyme and linden are great for the lung and respiratory problems.
You can also have cold herbal teas:
- Liquorice soothes the digestive tract, raises low blood pressure, and reduces inflammation in the body.
- Sumac is great for inflammation and for urinary tract disorders.
- Hibiscus is powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and lowers high blood pressure.
- Add herbal powders or dried herbs to muffins, pancakes, and breads.
- You can add olives, sundries tomatoes, garlic, rosemary, nettles... to your dough
- You can add a Tbsp. of marshmallow root or slippery elm to any flour blend you are using. Marshmallow root and slippery elm are demulcent and soothing to the digestive tract and body inflammation in general.
- You can also use 1 tsp. of astragalus powder with any flour mix. Astragalus is a Chinese herb that has been used for centuries as immune booster.
- Prepare herbal vinegars and use them in your salad dressing or meat and chicken marinade
To prepare herbal vinegar, add 1 to 4 ounce of herb (30-120 g) to 8 ounce (240 ml) apple cider vinegar. Steep for 2-6 weeks, then filter and store in dark container at room temp.
Some great herb vinegars to experiment with are:
- Sage vinegar. Sage is a good anti-microbial and has regulating effect on the sweat glands so it is very effective for night sweats and excessive perspiration. It is also known for its memory and concentration boosting powers.
- Thyme, oregano, marjoram are digestive aid and appetite stimulant. They are also great anti-microbial especially for respiratory tract issues.
- Nettles vinegar is very rich in minerals like iron, which is good for your blood. It is also rich in calcium, which is good for your bones and teeth.
- Garlic is a known anti-microbial, immune booster and cardiovascular support.
- Herbs can also be added to rice, pasta sauces, stir fired vegetables and bean recipes:
- Cumin, coriander, seaweed, garlic and onions can be added to the boiling water when preparing beans, legume and lentils.
- Cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg make good addition to rice especially wild and brown basmati rice.
- Basil, thyme, oregano, and peppermint can be added to pasta sauces
- Lemon grass, rosemary, and tarragon go well with stir-fried vegetables.
These are just few ways you can add healing power to your everyday diet… start experimenting, be creative, try new recipes… the sky is the limit… the more you add them the better your food will taste and the more healthful it gets.
Amira Ayad, Ph.D.
Natural Health Consultant & Holistic Nutritionist
Psychotherapist (in training)