Tag Archives: cough

Ginger - Zingiber officinale

The Powerful Healing Properties of Ginger

English: A Ginger Plant (Zingiber officinale)....
Ginger Plant (Zingiber officinale). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is probably one of the most favorite cooking ingredients and medicines in the world. Ginger is a perennial herb that originates from China and India. For centuries, Asians having been using ginger root in cook and for therapeutic purposes. Asia, Australia, Jamaica, South America and the United States are some of the countries where different varieties of ginger are cultivated.

The ginger plant has delicate green leaves that resemble baby spinach, which are eaten in salads, but the true benefits of ginger come from the roots of the plant, known as rhizomes.

Health Properties of Ginger

  1. When it comes to aid digesting, ginger is probably the best herb because it has antispasmodic or carminative properties. Proteins are broken down by ginger, getting rid of bloating and gas from the intestines and stomach. It also helps the stomach digest fatty foods as well.
  2. As a result of the warming quality of ginger, circulation is improved and stimulated, and the muscles surrounding blood vessels are relaxed. This way, the flow blood throughout the body is facilitated.
  3. There is a lot of evidence that motion sickness can be prevented and treated with ginger, since the stomach is relaxed and the feeling of nausea is relieved by it.
  4. It has been demonstrated by studies that the absorption of cholesterol in the blood and liver is reduced by ginger, thus cholesterol levels are lowered. The levels of bad or LDL cholesterol in the body can be reduced with its extract and the risk of the development of heart disease is also reduced this way.
  5. The secretion of mucus can be stimulated by consuming ginger, which can soothe scratchiness in the throat and relieve cough.
  6. Ginger contains anti-fungal, anti-toxic and anti-viral properties, so it can be used to prevent and treat common cold.
  7. Ginger can help treat allergies because it acts as an antihistamine.
  8. Ginger can be used for the treatment of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and a variety of other muscular disorders because anti-inflammatory properties are displayed by it. The biosynthesis of prostaglandins, which is the main cause of inflammation, is inhibited by the chemical components of ginger.
  9. Since the secretion of mucus is promoted by ginger, ginger protects the stomach from the development of ulcers.
  10. Along with lowering cholesterol, the formation of blood clots is also prevented by it.
  11. Minor burns and skin irritations can be immediately relieved by applying fresh ginger juice.
  12. Arthritic pain can be reduced by applying ginger oil.
  13. Ginger oil also refreshes the mind, so it is used in saloons and spas.

How to use ginger?

Ingwer (Zingiber officinale)
Ingwer (Zingiber officinale) (Photo credit: blumenbiene)

To benefit from the health properties of ginger, fresh ginger should be chosen over dried ginger. Not only does fresh ginger taste superior, but it contains higher levels of its anti-inflammatory compound and gingerol. Fresh ginger is usually free of mold, with a smooth, fresh skin and with fewer joints and twists as possible.

Young and mature are the two forms of ginger that are generally available. The skin of mature ginger is tougher and needs to be peeled, while the skin of young ginger does not have to be peeled. Ginger can be julienne, minced or sliced. Ginger can also be brewed as a tea.

Take advantage of ginger

Ginger is used as a flavoring for various culinary preparations and so, this is the most common way of having ginger and benefiting from its health properties. Ginger can be used to prepare ginger ale, ginger beer, gingerbread, ginger biscuits, ginger cake, ginger cookies, ginger tea and a lot more. Thus, ginger is one of the most renowned herbs with some remarkable health properties, and above all, it is easy to find and easy to consume.

chickweed - Stellaria media

Chickweed: The Best All Around Weed

Nature provides us with a lot of the medicines we need to not only survive, but thrive. When you learn to identify some of the vegetation around you, you can use many of them to your advantage in emergencies, or even as daily remedies for common ailments.

English: Chickenwort, Craches, Maruns, Winterw...
Common Chickweed -Stellaria media (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the most beneficial, natural herbs is chickweed (Stellaria media). This plant grows uncultivated readily throughout the world, and can provide relief to ailments from coughs to water retention to inflammed and irritated skin. Not only is chickweed a wonderful natural remedy for a variety of ailments, it is also high in vitamins and minerals, and tastes great in salads or a summer veggie side dish.

Chickweed is fairly easy to identify. It thrives during the summer months, and will grow easily in sunny, moist soil. It grows on a stem which can grow to 15-20 cm in height with leaves growing opposite each other on the stems. White flowers will bloom on the ends of the plant, which will reseed easily for more chickweed to grow. The stems are slender and may have what appear to be tiny hairs growing on them.

Chickweed provides a lot of health benefits to users. The U.S. Navy used chickweed in the prevention of scurvy in the early years because it is high in Vitamin C. While sailors didn’t know the cause of scurvy was low Vitamin C, this edible plant naturally kept levels of Vitamin C higher in sailors onboard ships to lower the numbers of sailors suffering from the potentially deadly disease. It is also a natural diuretic, making it excellent for people suffering from certain types of edema, as well as weight loss due to water retention. Because of it’s anti-inflammatory properties, chickweed is a wonderful soother for people suffering from cough due to inflammation of the lungs or mucous membranes. It can also be used to treat minor skin irritations and rashes due to insect bites or other mild skin discomforts.

Chickweed can be prepared a variety of ways, and can be eaten raw, or can be cooked, steamed, boiled, brewed into a tea, or added to clay to make a poultice for the skin. Varieties of chickweed which have hairs on the stems and leaves are best cooked to soften the hairs and make the stems easier to consume.

The leaves are often added to fresh salads and eaten raw, and provide a mild, pleasant flavor similar to corn on the cob. It can also be sauteed with other veggetables as a side dish with some olive oil and seasoned to taste for a delicious and nutritious boost to a meal. The leaves and stems can also be steamed, which retains a lot of the nutritient value, and eaten alone, or they can be added to a cup of warm water to steep for a few minutes to drink as a tea.

If you are consuming chickweed for the added boost of vitamins and minerals, consuming it raw or lightly steamed will be the best preparation method. High in Vitamins C, A, D, and iron, you can get a large boost in these essential vitamins and minerals by consuming the leaves and stems of chickweed mixed in a salad several times per week. To consume as a diuretic or a soothing natural cough remedy, preparing a mildly brewed tea with some leaves and stems will help you achieve the greatest benefit from its use. For minor skin irritations, making a poultice out of clay with chickweed which has been pulverized will work wonders for red, itchy, irritated skin.

Chickweed also contains small amounts of saponins. These are natural thickeners, which can work well in soups and stews. It creates complex, deep flavors while aiding in the thickening of soups, sauces, and stews.

It is amazing what types of natural remedies we can find by looking around us in the great outdoors. One of the most versatile of nature’s remedies is chickweed. It is self-sustaining and uncultivated, and an extremely hardy edible plant which can be found in almost all areas of the world. It provides high levels of certain vitamins and minerals, and can provide soothing relief to certain types of edema, calm coughs, and is a natural anti-inflammatory which can help relieve many minor skin irritations.

Red Clover - Trifolium pratense

The Health Properties of Red Clover

Red clover also referred to as Trifolium pratense is an inhabitant of northwest Africa, Western Asia and Europe, but it has been planted and naturalized in other regions on the globe.

This wild plant belongs to the legume-family which is normally used for grazing livestock among other animals. Traditionally, red clover has been used to cure various illnesses including cancer, skin inflammation like eczema and psoriasis, respiratory problems and whooping cough. This plant was thought to aid with blood purification, liver cleansing, and blood circulation improvement.

Research has shown that this plant has some isoflavones, plant-based chemicals, known for stimulating the production of estrogen within the body. This chemical has demonstrated some potential in treatment of various conditions related to menopause like osteoporosis, cardiovascular health and hot flashes.

Description of Red Clover

Trèfle des prés (Red clover en anglais) (Trifo...

This is a herbaceous, perennial plant which is commonly grown in the meadows around Asia and Europe.

This short-lived plant is variable-in-size and it tends to grow up to 80cm in height.

The leaves of red clover are alternate with 3 leaflet and each leaflet measures 8-15mm broad and 15-30mm long, with a unique pale crescent on the outer half-of-the-leaf. The petiole of the leaflets is about 4cm long with 2 basal stipules.

On the tip of each branch there is a dark pink flower with a unique pale base about 12-15mm long which tends to produce a dense inflorescence.

Health properties of red clover

This perennial plant has been acknowledged for having various properties including:

  • Antispasmodic
  • Alterative
  • Tonic
  • Sedative
  • Expectorant

Because of these properties, red clover is able to tackle various ailments like asthma easily. Some of these health properties include:

Osteoporosis

During menopause the estrogen levels drop in the body, this increases the risk of developing osteoporosis. Various studies done suggest that red clover extract can help reduce the rate of bone loss thus boosting the bone density in both peri and pre-menopausal ladies.

Menopause

Various researchers think that red clover’s isoflavones aid in reduction of menopause symptoms like night sweating and hot flashes. This is caused by their estrogen-like effects in the body caused by the water-soluble chemicals, phytoestrogen referred to as isoflavones.

Diuretic properties

The extract from this plant has some diuretic properties and thus can aid raise an individual’s urine output. This is quite helpful in case you are retaining water because of various unknown/known reasons or you body is bloated from menstrual cycle.

Anti-inflammatory property

Red clover has been used as an anti-inflammatory for years now, especially when dealing with various skin inflammations like eczema & psoriasis.

Cleansing property

One of the major red clover properties is cleansing, this extract helps with blood and liver cleansing and it has been featured in various cleansing teas.

Detoxification

Another major property is full body detoxification; red clover helps eliminate the built-up of various toxins and chemicals within the body.

Lower your cholesterol levels

One most beneficial side effect of this extract is that it helps reduce the cholesterol levels. Various scientific studies have been done on the effects the red clover extract has on cholesterol and proved this property of red clover.

Cancer

Various preliminary test-tubes trials show that red clover’s isoflavones can help eradicate and also prevent the growth of various cancerous cells. Although it has shown various anti-tumor activities, this plant has been used in various parts-of-the-Globe to deal with cancer. This herb can help prevent both endometrial and prostate cancer, but the estrogen like effects produced by isoflavones can aid the growth of certain cancer cells.

Red clover infusion preparation

With this method you can create about a pint infusion which can be consumed at ones or in small equal proportions during the day.

1. Add approximately 30g of dried flower into a glass-jar and pour boiled water over it until the jar is filled.

2. Cover the jar with a lid and allow the flowers to rest calmly for about twenty minutes covered. You can leave it for up to 4 hours if you wish to.

3. Then strain the mixture into another mug using a fine-meshed-strainer and discard the flowers.

4. You can add a tea spoon of honey into the infusion and drink it after it has cooled to room temperature. If you want it to soothe cold or coughs you can take it hot.

5. You can then store the remainder in your refrigerator until ready to drink again.

Related Articles

Mentha piperita

Mint: Discovering the Huge Array of Uses

Mint
Mint (Photo credit: James Jardine)

Mint is part of the Genus Mentha in the Lamiaceae family, and there are a huge number of different species available for you to use. The different species are not incredibly distinct; however, it is believed that there are over 15 different varieties. All mints are considered to be pleasant to smell; however, they can also be used for medicines and for dietary requirements.

The leaves are extremely distinct on the Mentha plant and are arranged in pairs along the steam. The color of the plants varies from grey-green to dark green, and in some countries they can even be yellow. The mint plant also contains fruit, which houses one to four seeds, which can help to propagate the plant.

This perennial herb enjoys wet growing conditions, and thrives in moist soils, however, they can be found in several different countries. Mint is incredibly fast growing, and will spread over a huge distance if allowed to grow. Therefore, many people consider this plant to be invasive, if left to grow unattended.

Due to the incredible speedy growth of these plants, one plant will provide the average household with enough mint for all year. To control the growth, you may find it easier to place the mint in a pot or container, which will ensure that you are not over run with this plant. Having this plant in your garden is perfect to repel many insects and pests.

Mint leaves.
Mint leaves. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You can harvest mint at any time, and fresh mint leaves are perfect in many different dishes and beverages. Once picked you will need to use the leaves immediately, or store them in a refrigerator in a plastic bag. You may also want to consider freezing the mint leaves in ice cube trays and removing when needed.

Dried mint leaves are another fantastic way of taking advantage of this delicious herb, and these will need to be stored in an airtight container. There are many incredible health benefits from using the Mentha leaves in your cooking. You will find that this plant aids your digestion and stimulates your saliva glands.

Once these have been stimulated, your body will produce the enzymes, which help your body to digest your food. These plants will also help to relieve respiratory problems and coughs, and can help if you suffer with asthma. However, you need to be aware that too much mentha, can cause more problems, and panic attacks.

You will also find that this plant is excellent at helping with headaches and when you suffer from nausea. Some people use the plant for antiseptic purposes, and mint can help with acne and skin conditions. The plant can also be used to purify damaged skin and soothes burns and cuts, which you may have.

Bad breath can also be combated with mint, and will result in your mouth being cleaner and far fresher. The high levels of vitamin C, which is in the mint, will play a huge part in boosting the immune system and help fight viruses. There are also high levels of manganese present, which is an antioxidant, which targets the free radicals within your body.
High levels of amino acid are also present, which is excellent at helping to control mood swings, and will affect how you feel. This is often why people feel better after a cup of mint tea, and why it has an incredible calming effect. If you do not want to drink the tea, you can easily inhale the mint, which will have the same effect.

There are several different dishes that you can place the mint within to create delicious meals for everyone to enjoy. The leaves can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, as it has a pleasant cool after taste. You may want to include the mint in ice creams, jellies, candies, and teas; however, it is also delicious with meat, especially lamb.

This image shows a Mint plant of the species M...
This image shows a Mint plant of the species Mentha gattefossei. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some alcoholic drinks also have this plant included, and these make perfect ingredients for cocktails. Whether you want to eat, drink or use the mint in a natural remedy, it has a huge amount of uses for everyone. You will feel healthier, and have a better digestion after consuming the menthe plant, and be better informed about all of the incredible benefits.

See Also

 

Cold Season

What NOT To Do During Cold And Flu Season

While this article is called what NOT to do, I will be offering a plethora of what TO DO.

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be sick every single season, when others cruise through? It’s not just because they are lucky, it’s because of the old survival rule ‘Be Prepared’

 

DON’Ts –

  1. Don’t “starve a fever and feed a cold” – don’t do either. Instead, drink a lot of water, preferably warm as it helps to soothe mucous membranes. Drink fresh juices – get yourself a juicer so you can do this at least once a day. Raw foods are proven immune strengtheners. Eat healthy – I know we all want to comfort eat but that is damaging and can in fact just start a downward spiral.
  2. Hot milk
    Hot milk (Photo credit: anasararojas)

    Don’t drink sugary or milky warm drinks – this increases acidity, which puts you in the sick room in the first place. It also increases mucous which you don’t want. Constant aggravation of your nervous system and digestive system will only aggravate your respiratory system. Instead, drink lots of warm water infused with beneficial herbs such as nasturtium thyme, sage, chamomile, mint and Himalayan salt. It replaces valuable electrolytes as well as soothing airways and flushing out toxins.

  3. Don’t sit indoors in warm rooms 24/7 – this actually allows the bugs to grow due to increased humidity. If you are suffering a fever, by all means rug up and warm your body but the fresh air outside is far more beneficial. As is the great big free Vitamin D machine – sunshine. Don’t cover up, don’t block out the sun’s rays. Considering we need a few hours a day to absorb sufficient D, many of us are lacking. And considering asthma is linked to a D deficiency, it explains why lots of kids and even adults suffer with asthma so frequently.
  4. Don’t just use mentholated rub on your chest or neck. Don’t laugh but the best place to use it is on the soles of your feet. I am not joking. If you cough, it will actually stop it faster than any cough medicine. For kids, rub it on before bed and cover feet with socks. It works. Of course, try and find a non-petroleum jelly based rub – there are many based on safer gels.
  5. Don’t share your germs! Don’t go to work, don’t send your kids to school or daycare, don’t cough in public and don’t cough into your hands. Each of these things will spread sickness faster than anything else. I personally get angry when I am forced to share the germs of others. I don’t share mine and I appreciate others offering the same respect.
  6. Don’t try and work it out of you. Think about the animals in the wild. When they are sick, they sleep and even hibernate. Sometimes they eat plants for instinctive healing, but most of all they sleep. We need to learn to do the same. If your body is telling you it is too tired or weak to work, listen. Go to bed, sleep it off. You’d do the same for a hangover or late night, and they are self inflicted. If your body speaks, just allow yourself to listen it. Rather than drag an illness out or make it worse (no, you can’t sweat it out by overburdening it) you may just find you cut the duration.
  7. Don’t just let your body suffer. That is one of the worst things you can do and I am amazed at the number of so-called experts who will advise you to do this very thing. The body cannot heal well while it is under duress. If a cut is inflamed and you irritate it, will it heal? The same can be said for any inflammatory illness. Soothe it with analgesia – that can range from willowbark and feverfew to a special paracetamol/codeine formulation.
  8. Don’t ignore it hoping it will go away. All you are doing is putting off the inevitable and inviting more chronic illness. I have lost count of the number of chronically unwell people who begin with “I thought it was just a cold and that it would go away.”

So what can you do?

Well, apart from what has been written above, there is a LOT you can do.

  1. A herbal ‘antibiotic’– of which there are many. Most will contain echinacea and garlic – funny enough, most doctors will say not to waste your time, yet studies have proven that in contagious disease, including drug-resistant strains, that herbal medicine is far more effective than any drug on the market. And with far less side effects. These herb-biotics can range from basic herbs to Chinese herbs (free of questionable and cruelly-derived animal ingredients) and can be in tablet or tonic forms. The taste does take some getting used to but in my house at least, the kids love the taste.

    An Ikea garlic press, with pressed garlic.
    pressed garlic (source: wikipedia)
  2. Steaming and nasal washing – using neti pots, steam machines, even a hot shower – these all serve to clean and soothe the mucous membranes and actually speed healing.
  3. Look at your lifestyle and diet. If you find yourself getting repeated coughs, colds and flus, it is no coincidence. Overhaul your diet – include raw and fresh food, lots of water and remove all the usual triggers of ill health – wheat, yeast, sugar, dairy and meat. See these foods as a rare treat. If you have detrimental habits/addictions you may have to ask yourself what is more important.
  4. Hot baths (hydrotherapy). You may not believe this but if you run a hot bath and add a tablespoon each of powdered ginger, Epsom Salts and Bicarb, you will draw and ‘break’ the virus. Try it – it works. The same therapy is safe for all ages.
  5. Orange, pear, appleIncrease antioxidant intake. Fresh, raw juices – cucumber, celery, carrot, apple, orange, berry, cabbage, kale, spinach. The benefits of these foods raw, are far too numerous to mention. Studies have shown that antioxidant intake is better than just about any other option – A, C, E, curcuminoids (turmeric etc), pine bark extract, olive leaf extract, etc – all not only fight the virus but knock off free radicals and soothe tissues.
  6. Foot soaks. Foot spas or even a bucket of hot water with Epsom Salts, Eucalyptus and other essential oils will draw out toxins and warm the body.
  7. Washing – both your body and surroundings. You need to wash away the toxins that build up at least once every two days (if you are very unwell). Your clothing and bedding will need regular cleaning and disinfecting with a healthy option such as eucalyptus, lavender or tea tree oil.
  8. Excrete – no joke. There are herbs that help with expectoration (coughing up of mucous), diaphoresis (sweating), urination (flushing through the kidneys) and bowel evacuation which needs to be kept frequent in order to prevent stagnant build up and weakened processes. See my other articles on such herbs – it’s worth it for everyone to either have a little herb garden or a store of them in the pantry.

 

Be pro-active this season. If you are already unwell, please take the steps necessary to get well. If you are not yet affected, please take the steps to build your immunity and make your environment one that discourages poor immunity. Don’t ignore it hoping it will go away. All you are doing is putting off the inevitable and inviting more chronic illness. I have lost count of the number of chronically unwell people who begin with “I thought it was just a cold and that it would go away.”

Althea officinalis

Althea officinalis

Name

The meaning of Althea is “healing herb”. Officinalis (meaning “of the workshop”) is a common species name and it denotes medicinal plants.

Also Known as

  • marsh mallow
  • marshmallow
  • marshmellow
  • common marshmallow

 


 

Identification Keys

  • perennial herbaceous
  • 60-120 cm tall
  • upright, hairy stem with few side branches
  • tough, pliant, long, thick, tapering taproot
  • taproot is pale yellow outside and white and fibrous inside
  • gray-green, stalked leaves
  • coarsely and irregularly toothed, alternate leaves
  • heart-shaped or three to five-lobed leaves toward the bottom
  • oval and pointed leaves toward the top of the stem
  • flowers grow in short, dense cluster from the upper leaves
  • five-petaled, pinkish flowers
  • bushy central column composed of fused stamens
  • dry, flattened, disk-shaped fruit
  • fruit is radially divided into 15 to 20 segments

Bloom Time

  • late summer

Habitat

  • marshes
  • seashore
  • sunny salt marshes
  • coastal areas

Look-alikes

Malva spp. is a related edible species:

  • Malva sylvestris
  • Malva neglecta

 

Medicine Uses

Parts Used

root, leaf, flower

Actions

emollient, mucilage, demulcent, vulnerary, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antiseptic, antitussive, expectorant, diuretic, antilithic, immune enhancer, galactogogue

Systems

Digestion

  • relieves ulcerative colitis, gastritis and peptic ulcers
  • soothes heartburn, IBS and constipation
  • reduces peristalsis
  • relieves diarrhea
  • has a laxative effect if it’s used at larger doses

Respiratory system

  • soothes harsh, dry coughs, sore throats, laryngitis, bronchitis and croup
  • clears catarrh
  • relieves inflammation

Immune system

  • aids production of white blood cells
  • protects against Proteus vulgaris, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Staphylococcus aureus

Urinary system

  • eases passing of gravel and stones
  • relieves irritable bladder, cystitis and urethritis

Reproductive system

  • eases childbirth
  • stimulates flow of breast milk

Externally

  • soothes irritation and inflammation from insect bites and stings
  • used for treating varicose veins, ulcers, abscesses, bruises, sprains, aching muscles
  • treats scalds, burns and sunburns (mixed with Lavandula and flax oil)
  • heals skin in acne, eczema and sore nipples
  • used for mastitis, boils and abscesses as warm poultice
  • treats sore throats (gargle) and inflamed gums (mouthwash)

Food Uses

Parts Used

leaves, roots

Main Uses

potherb

Nutrition

  • good source of vitamin C
  • iron, calcium and copper

Cooking

  • young leaves thicken soups
  • use as cooked vegetable in stews, sauces, or a variety of side dishes
  • use the raw leaves and flowers in salads
  • boil the root, discard the root, boil down the liquid, sweet it and beat it

Recipes


 

Harvesting

Please do not overharvest where this plant it’s rare or you might eradicate it. 

Harvesting Season

  • young leaves:  mid- to late spring
  • flowers and fruits: late summer to fall
  • roots: spring and fall.

Harvesting Methods

  • strip off the young leaves
  • pick the flowers and fruits with your fingers
  • dig up the roots with a digging stick