Naturopath and Holistic Health Expert
What do you see when you open the fridge or pantry? You might only recognize the contents as food, yet many humble kitchen staples make wonderful medicinal aids. Check again! Your spice rack, upon closer inspection, doubles as a fine first aid kit; oils and vinegars comprise a healing apothecary. The very items that enhance, preserve & nourish our palate do the same for our bodies. Learning to harness these safe, effective, medicinal foods is yet another way to take ownership of your health – naturally.
image via pinterest
Here are my top 10 favourite healing kitchen goodies:
1. Apple cider vinegar
Used in salad dressings with olive oil, it’s also a medicinal staple in most kitchen cupboards. Add 1 teaspoon per glass of water and drink 3 times per day before meals for digestion. (The same benefits can be achieved when used in salads). Rich in enzymes & potassium, it supports a healthy immune system, helps control weight, promotes digestion & pH balance, helps soothe dry throats, assists in the removal of toxins and maintains healthy skin. It can also be applied topically to relieve exercise-induced muscle pain.
2. Sage leaf
This ubiquitous herb is easy to grow in a kitchen garden, can be used fresh or dry and stored in a jar. Traditionally used to flavor Italian dishes, it is unbeatable cooked in butter with chicken or white fish. For medicinal purposes, make a strong tea using 6 fresh leaves (or 2 teaspoons of the dried leaves) to 1 cup of boiled water to use as a mouthwash or gargle. Its antiseptic properties are indicated for gingivitis, sore throats and tonsillitis. It can also be employed for night sweats & is found in many over-the-counter menopause supplements.
3. Rosemary leaf
Another common garden herb, its strong and pungent aroma enhances all Mediterranean dishes, especially lamb. Medicinally, it has antimicrobial, analgesic (pain-relieving), antioxidant and antispasmodic properties. It can be made into a tea, like sage, to increase mental concentration, calm constrictive headaches, anxiety, colic and wind. It is also wonderful for memory – hence why Rosemary is worn on Remembrance Day.
4. Olive Oil
Choose extra virgin and cold pressed methods to preserve the natural, nutritional constituents. As you would use it to dress a salad or coat a pan, this common oil is a Mediterranean remedy for dry and cracked skin of the knees, elbows, feet and hands.
5. Natural salt
An ingredient found in every household pantry and one we can’t do without! Adding a pinch to drinking water, it can be used to replace minerals and aid hydration (be sure to use a natural unrefined salt such as Celtic or Himalayan). Use as a mouthwash or gargle for a sore and infected mouth or throat – ½ a teaspoon per 1/4 a cup of warm water. Add ½ a cup to a bath to relax and soothe muscles.
6. Clove buds
Used to poach fruit or infuse sweet syrups for cakes. A simple clove bud placed in the mouth will impart analgesic effects for tooth pain.
7. Cinnamon powder or quills
Traditionally used with clove to add heavenly aromas to all baked goods, this hidden secret can be used medicinally for colds and flu – both warming and antimicrobial. Add 2 whole quills to a cup of boiled water, infuse for 5 minutes (or longer) and sip slowly. It is also indicated for diarrhoea and sore tummies.
More than a breakfast cameo! Place in an old stocking and soak in a hot bath for soothing, softening emollient relief for dry skin.
9. Ground coffee
A remedy endorsed by supermodels in the 80s! They used it to rub on skin before a shower, not only as an excellent exfoliant, but also to draw out toxins in stubborn cellulite. Make a paste with warm water and rub on unbroken skin 3 times per week.
10. Coconut oil
A hero of the modern pantry, coconut oil is an excellent cooking fat and is stable at high temperatures. Topically, it can be used to treat bacterial skin infections (as it is a strong anti-microbial agent), as a mouth antiseptic (swishing in the mouth for 20 minutes morning or night to draw out toxins and relieve gingivitis), for a dry, flaky scalp or as an all-over body moisturizer.
You may not immediately see a pharmacy, complete with lotions, potions and prescriptions when you peer inside your pantry, but look a little closer and discover an array of healing kitchen staples at your fingertips! Embrace edible medicine and treat thyself, naturally.