Humans have been using plants and herbs for medicinal purposes for all of time. In fact, Neanderthal remains have been found with fragments of herbs that we still commonly use today! You may not realize it, but you’re probably already benefiting from the medicinal properties of plants just through simple activities such as drinking tea or cooking. Below we’ll review the herbs: garlic, ginger and turmeric.
Did you know garlic is a member of the lily family?! It has been used by humans for at least 7,000 years! Talk about aging well! Garlic has a wide range of benefits, and can be used to treat microbes, fungus, viruses, and parasites.
Garlic supplementation has been shown to prevent common colds and reduce cold duration and severity1. In those with hypertension, garlic may reduce systolic blood pressure2, and garlic may also be helpful for improving lipid levels, including total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides3.
Garlic is also incredibly easy to incorporate in most savory recipes. If you feel a cold coming on, consider adding some fresh garlic to a soup or broth to boost your immune system and reduce the severity and duration of your cold! If you suffer from metabolic or cardiovascular complications, regular garlic consumption or supplementation may assist in regulating your blood pressure and lipid levels.
Ginger root has been used medicinally and for cooking for over 2,500 years. It is a well known anti-inflammatory herb and is also frequently used for its anti-nausea and anti-vomiting effects. It can help promote healthy digestion and may also help to lower cholesterol.
Ginger is frequently used in Asian cooking and also in winter holiday desserts! You may have tried drinking ginger ale for an upset stomach, and while that’s the right idea, ginger ale is often artificially flavored, and the high sugar content defeats the health benefit of fresh ginger in the first place! Next time you have an upset tummy, try drinking some ginger tea, or mixing some fresh ginger or ginger juice into some sparkling water! Additionally, ginger has a warming effect, so ginger tea can also be helpful if you’re someone that constantly feels cold.
From the same family as ginger, turmeric is another potent anti-inflammatory herb that has been used for thousands of years. Not only is it anti-inflammatory, but it also helps to protect your heart, liver, kidney and brain function, can aid in digestion, and can enhance wound healing. One thing to keep in mind with turmeric is that it has low bioavailability, meaning it is not well absorbed in the body. To enhance its absorption and reap its benefits, it is important to include it with black pepper! If taking a turmeric supplement, make sure the supplement also contains black pepper.
Turmeric can be added to many recipes, and supplementation can be very effective for inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. Here are few ideas on how to incorporate turmeric into your cooking:
Turmeric and Butternut Squash Soup (This recipe doesn’t call for black pepper, so make sure to add some!)