Cures in Your Cupboard: Herbal Remedies for Common Ailments

To ward off common ailments, turn to your kitchen before your drugstore. Many culinary herbs offer impressive healing properties—medicine’s never tasted so good!

| September/October 2011

  • Cayenne, turmeric, caraway and other household herbs can help alleviate a wide array of health problems.
  • Cayenne, turmeric, caraway and other household herbs can help alleviate a wide array of health problems.

Next time you get sick, skip the trip to the drugstore—help may be as close as your kitchen cupboard. Our grandparents often turned to herbs and spices to ward off common ailments, and these time-tested remedies have proven safe and effective. (If you have a health condition or are already using medication or other treatments, consult your practitioner before use.)

Coughs: Thyme contains two constituents (thymol and carvacrol) with expectorant (phlegm-loosening) properties, making it a great choice if you’re suffering from a cough, congestion, sore throat or bronchitis. The herb also has powerful antimicrobial properties. To make thyme tea, steep 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 tablespoon fresh) in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes; strain and drink up to three cups daily.

Sinus problems: Try this spicy mixture next time your sinuses feel clogged and painful: Combine 1 cup tomato juice, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh garlic, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Warm the mixture and drink slowly.

Digestion: Many culinary herbs have carminitive properties, meaning they help relieve gas and bloating. To relieve gas, try chewing 1/2 teaspoon of fennel, caraway or dill seeds, or drinking a post-meal cup of tea made from their seeds. For general indigestion or upset stomach, try a cup or two of peppermint tea.



Nausea: Keep ginger on hand to safely and effectively relieve nausea. It also helps prevent motion sickness. You can make a tea from 2 teaspoons of fresh grated ginger per cup of boiling water, or drink ginger ale that contains real ginger, such as Reed’s.

Cancer prevention: Many herbs are great sources of cancer-preventive antioxidants and should be added liberally to the diet. The U.S. Department of Agriculture found cinnamon, cloves and oregano to have especially high antioxidant capacities. Green tea contains a polyphenol called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which may help prevent a wide variety of cancers, especially those of the lung, breast, stomach and skin. In the Iowa Women’s Health Study, increased garlic consumption was associated with a lower risk of colon cancer. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, can prevent or kill several types of cancer cells.



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