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Exploring the medicinal properties of common kitchen companions

Wooden spoons with spices

True Food member Elisa recently attended a herbalism course, and has shared some of the amazing learnings with us in this article about the medicinal properties of ingredients we commonly have in our kitchens!

Human beings have used plants since the dawn of time for medicinal purposes, to prevent or treat ailments and promote healing and wellbeing. Indigenous communities globally relied on botanical knowledge being passed down from generation to generation. In modern times, scientific research continues to explore and validate the therapeutic potential of plant compounds, but that botanical generational heritage is unfortunately being lost in our society. There is always time to rediscover it though!  

Having recently attended a herbalism course, I am looking at the world with a renewed sense of wonder and curiosity. This includes walking through True Food’s aisles and seeing the huge healing potential in the many herbs, spices and vegetables we can find there. In this article, we delve into the diverse health benefits and potential uses of a few kitchen staples. 


  • Blood Sugar Stabilisation: cinnamon is renowned for its ability to regulate blood sugar levels, making it a valuable addition for those managing diabetes or insulin resistance 
  • Anti-inflammatory Properties: cinnamon boasts anti-inflammatory compounds, providing relief from conditions associated with inflammation, such as arthritis. 

How to use cinnnamon for health:  create a soothing cinnamon tea by infusing a cinnamon stick in hot water, or sprinkle cinnamon in hot porridge 


  • Digestive Health: cumin promotes digestive health by aiding in the production of digestive enzymes, reducing bloating and easing indigestion 
  • Rich in Iron: An excellent source of iron, cumin helps combat iron deficiency anemia, supporting overall energy levels and vitality. 

How to use cumin for health: mix cumin, turmeric and coriander and sprinkle on roasted vegetables, providing not only a flavour boost but also digestive support. 

Bay Leaves 

  • Anti-bacterial Power: bay leaves have anti-bacterial properties that can aid in fighting infections and promoting a healthy immune system 
  • Respiratory Relief: inhalation of steam infused with bay leaves can help alleviate respiratory issues, such as congestion or bronchitis. 

How to use bay for health: enhance the nutritional profile of your soups and stews by adding bay leaves during the cooking process. 


  • Antioxidant Boost: oregano is packed with antioxidants that combat oxidative stress, supporting the body’s defence against chronic disease 
  • Immune System Support: the essential oils in oregano contain compounds that may strengthen the immune system, providing a natural shield against infections. 

How to introduce more oregano into your diet: Infuse fresh or dried oregano leaves in olive oil and drizzle on salads or use as a marinade  


  • Heart Health: garlic is known for promoting cardiovascular health by helping to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels 
  • Antimicrobial: Allicin, a compound found in garlic, has antimicrobial properties that help with infection. 

How to use garlic for health: make a topical salve by mixing crushed garlic with olive and/or coconut oil, to treat minor skin infections and wounds 


  • Anti-inflammatory Benefits: Onions contain quercetin, an anti-inflammatory antioxidant that may help reduce inflammation in the body 
  • Bone Health: Rich in bone-boosting nutrients like calcium and vitamin C, onions contribute to maintaining healthy and strong bones 

How to use onions for health: boil sliced onions with honey to create a natural cough syrup that may soothe throat irritation.