A few weeks ago, we talked about the medicinal properties of chives, lavender, and sage. Those are all good starts and generally available most anywhere, however, there are so many more culinary plants that are also medicinal storehouses. This week, let’s tackle the Culinary Medicine: Cilantro, Mint, & Strawberry and all the reasons that they should be in our medicine cabinets as well as on our spice racks.
Most of us already prize strawberries for the sweet red berry that is widely considered a true super-food prized for its cancer fighting abilities and more. However, it’s time we start looking at the whole plant for it’s medicinal value and begin including it in our herbal medicine chests. Strawberry leaves are naturally high in Vitamin C, again a wonderful immune system booster for folks living where citrus might not be native. The leaves are also high in iron which make it a wonderful tonic for women especially during menses and when nursing.
When the dried leaves are made into a tea they have been historically used for treating diarrhea and other intestinal and urinary issues. It has also been used in the past to treat dysentery. The tea can also be gargled as treatment for sore throats. Topically, the leaves can be used in a bath to help treat rashes. Strawberry leaves are also considered antimicrobial making it a good substitute for commercial toothpaste.
Be sure to learn how to identify wild strawberries as well as the cultivated varieties in your garden. Wild strawberries could be an invaluable food and medicine source in a wild lands emergency or bug out situation.
Coriander is actually the seed of cilantro plants. So this herb can have multiple uses both on the spice rack and in the medicine cabinet and it most decidedly deserves big spots in both.
Cilantro is prized for cleaning the body of toxic metal exposure. Consider that pesto not only a tasty condiment but a purifying medicine for your body. To kick up the flushing properties make a tea from the fresh or dried leaves. Alternatively the leaves can be juiced for the same cleansing properties.
Cilantro also has some antibacterial properties making it perfect for treating burns, cuts, and rashes. Pulverize fresh leaves or mix dried leaves with water to form a paste and use as poultice on the skin.
Coriander seed has long been prized for its ability to soothe stomach and prevent food borne illness. It’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory making it a powerful ally for arthritis sufferers or anyone with a tendency to overdo it in the garden. Coriander has been used in Morocco as natural treatment for diabetes, and while I wouldn’t recommend substituting insulin or any other medication for coriander, it might be good to know.
While mint is most commonly used by most everyone as soothing tea for upset stomachs and anxious minds, it has plenty of other medicinal uses as well. Mint tea helps soothe coughs and loosen mucus from the lungs. The aroma also helps relax anxious patients and people to help further relax and bring sleep.
Topically, mint has a number of uses as well. Infuse fresh mint in oil to make invigorating lip balms and salves, all good for energizing tired souls and bodies. Bruised mint leaves soaked in water makes a great skin cleanser that can help repel some bugs and help prevent infections from minor wounds.
As you grow your self-sufficiency skills, don’t forget to look to all the available culinary herbs growing in your area for their medicinal factors. Additional resources to help learn more include: