Knowing what herbs and oils to have on hand, or be able to find, when you or a family member gets sick makes life less stressful. Nature is amazing in that it has provided for us everything we need to live and be healthy. Medicinal plants do not only produce the chemicals in their bodies that they need to survive (like our bodies do), but they also produce whole other sets of chemicals and compounds that work as medicines for humans and animals. This is their gift to us.
There are various ways to use herbs: eating them fresh, water extractions like teas and infusions, vinegar extractions that can be used as tinctures or in food, alcohol and glycerin tinctures that extract the alkaloids from the plants. You may want to learn about the different methods of using herbs, or consult an herbalist, to know you are taking the best form possible for your condition. As an herbalist, I very rarely recommend taking herbs in capsules. It is generally useless. There are some exceptions to this rule – Cayenne being one of them. I also like to use herbs that grow as weeds near us or herbs that are available as foods in grocery stores, versus expensive, imported, and rare herbs. I do not recommend using herbs that are endangered unless they are farm grown.
COLDS & FLUS: Some easy to acquire and safe herbs to use when a cold or flu virus hits you are: Garlic, Thyme, Sage, and Ginger. All of these are easily found in grocery stores and buying organic* is always best.
GARLIC: Allium sativum
Garlic has been shown to increase immune function, lower blood pressure, fight bacterial infections, and reduce the risk of many types of cancer.
Raw Garlic: To reap the powerful anti-viral properties of Garlic, you must eat it raw. As soon as you cut into any food or herb with antioxidant qualities, it begins to oxidize. So cutting your garlic and eating it as soon as possible after cutting it is key. Heating garlic destroys many of these qualities.
Garlic Toast: One of the tricks I picked up from Herbalist Susun Weed, who trained me in herbal medicine, was to chop up garlic, mix it into some olive oil, and then put it on top of toast – it is actually very yummy.
Garlic Shot: Another option is to mince up raw garlic and drop it into a shot glass with a dropper full of Echinacea tincture (I prefer Herb Pharm Super Echinacea) and fresh squeezed orange juice… and drink it like a shot.
Garlic Honey: Another herbal trick is to peel the garlic cloves and submerge them in raw, local honey. You let them sit in the honey for at least 4 weeks, but the honey can even preserve them for a year (maybe more) before it begins to crystallize. Then you can eat the honey garlic gloves or use the garlic infused honey as a syrup. Take it by the spoonful or smear it on bread perhaps.
Counteracting Garlic Breath: Parsley is the antidote for garlic breath. It neutralizes the smell of garlic, so eat some fresh Parsley after you take or eat your garlic.
Garlic dressings: You can also add raw garlic into homemade salad dressings. Blend up raw garlic with some fresh herbs, avocado, lemon juice, a pinch of sea salt, and voila! Pour over fresh greens and eat right away.
Garlic Juice: You can also add garlic to your fresh juice recipes if you have a juicer. It works well with vegetable juice combinations.
A note about improper use of garlic: Recently on some of the raw food blogs and Youtube videos, some raw food “gurus” have been saying that garlic is dangerous to ingest. Sadly, this misinformation started when someone applied raw garlic to a wound on the skin. NOT RECOMMENDED. They then showed that the garlic burned the skin/wound and left a bad scar. The conclusion was that eating raw garlic would burn your insides. This is obviously not true. You cannot just take herbs and apply them at will, however you choose, or you could get hurt. Garlic is a safe, non-toxic herb from the onion family that we can eat. It can also be used as medicine, but it is never to be put on a wound. Doing so would be like looking at a can of Lysol and saying, “Hmmm, this is anti-viral and anti-bacterial. I should spray it on my open wound.” NOT a smart idea.
A note on buying organic: When your body is working hard to fight a virus, illness, or infection, you do not want to ingest pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides that will give your liver a lot more toxicity to filter out. The same goes for food. If you are eating healthy salads, but they are covered in toxic poisons, you may want to re-think that. Also by supporting our organic farmers, we are contributing to a less toxic world and therefore less illness, less cancer.
Part Two… coming soon!
Jessica d’Arcy ©2014