Before we had medicines as we know them, plants were used for their effects on our health, both internally and externally. Medical herbalists still use them, as they can be very effective in treating our ailments and supporting the immune system.
The fact is that the chemicals in over 50% of our medicines originated in plants. For example, aspirin was first found in willow bark, (which is still used in the world of herbalism), the heart drug digoxin, came from the foxglove and of course mint has always been used for digestive problems. Even today, many of these chemicals are used in aromatic essential oils.
I am not going to suggest that we treat ourselves with some of the potentially dangerous herbs! Nonetheless, most edible plants contain chemicals that can be beneficial to our health – and some can even be restorative. It is these I want to talk about in this article.
We are really fortunate that True Food stock so many different herbs and spices – both fresh and dried. It’s the aromatic and colourful natural ones (think chillies, ginger, turmeric, oregano) that contain the health-boosting effects.
Turmeric: Curcumin is the active chemical in turmeric. Lots of studies have proved its worth and turmeric is a very useful addition to your diet. It is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and is immune system boosting.
Ginger has long been used for nausea but it is also antiviral. It is an antioxidant (fights disease-forming free radicals) and good for congestive conditions.
Pepper: Black pepper is antibacterial and also good for congestion.
Oregano is known for its antioxidants which can help prevent cancers and other conditions. Its chemicals are bacteria-fighting and have been shown to tackle 23 different types of bacteria that can make us ill.
Chillies: Studies have shown that the chemicals in chillies can support eye health, are antioxidant and can help clear nasal congestion.
This is just a sample of how herbs and spices can assist us. Many of them are also rich in vitamins and minerals making them a great addition to your cooking! Try some of the recipes below: