BRENDA GIILL: An Ode to Herbs!

By Contributor
February 18th, 2009

One of the reasons I like this time of year is the warming foods we eat. I decided to make Chicken Marbella for friends coming over for dinner on Sunday and was reminded of all the great reasons to add garlic and herbs to your cooking. It was a treat to have the waft of garlic interlaced with the pungent aroma of thyme, oregano, rosemary, capers and olives greeting me as I took out the dish form the oven! No one was apt to catch a cold after that meal!

Garlic is one of the most researched, versatile and widely used herbs available. It can be used to thin the blood to prevent heart disease (just as well as aspirin without the side effects) and has been found to lower cholesterol as well as blood pressure. I have used it for both with many people and have had great results. For this purpose, though, it is important to use a standardized garlic with a specified amount of allicin, one of the active components in garlic.

It can also be crushed and a drop or two of oil can be mixed with a tsp. of olive oil for ear infections. A few drops of the mixture can be put in each ear to resolve the infection. The same oil can also be used for any fungal infections on the skin or nails. Applying a small amount to the nail each night will eventually clear the nails. Another great remedy is boiling a few garlic cloves with honey to make a cough syrup. A crushed clove in ½ cup of hot water can be an effective throat gargle and is anti-bacterial and anti-viral. It can also be used to make a chest poultice with onion to break up lung congestion. Crush 2-3 cloves with ½ an onion and add enough hot water to make a paste like consistency and spread on a cloth. Place the cloth on the chest & cover with plastic and leave the poultice on for 20-30 minutes. It’s also been used to prevent hangovers! 1-2 baked cloves spread on crackers will minimize the effects of the wine- the more wine; the more cloves needed-or is that the other way around?

Thyme, oregano and rosemary have also been found to be anti-bacterial and anti-viral. 1-2 drops of thyme oil is excellent to mix with 1T olive oil to rub on the chest to break up a cough. Oregano oil mixed with olive oil has been found to be an effective throat gargle and taken orally will help ward off colds and flus. Rosemary is not only anti-bacterial, but is also helpful for memory.

Not only do these herbs make a dish much more flavourful, but they have wonderful beneficial effects too! So, with all the stews, soups, stir-fries at this time of year, don’t be afraid to make it aromatic and mouth watering with all those wonderful herbs available.

For those folks whose colds last for more than 3-5 days, you should consider an appointment to build up your immune system.

Brenda Gill is a naturopath practising in Rossland.

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