When building our home medicine cabinets and increasing our herbal medicine knowledge, many of us focus on the most obvious herbs: dandelion, echinecea, valerian, etc. Those are powerful healing allies and shouldn’t be overlooked. However, neither should those herbs more traditionally viewed as culinary herbs. Those kitchen herb beds that are often full of perennial favorites like chives, lavender, and sage also contain powerful medicine. Maybe it’s time to start looking at the spice rack as a culinary medicine cabinet.
Chives are in the same plant family as garlic and onions and as such, have many of the same medicinal properties. Chives, like garlic, contain antiseptic and antibacterial properties. They’re high in Vitamin K, which is essential to bone health and is being investigated as part of Alzheimer’s treatment, and Vitamin C, which is obviously important in helping boost the immune system and in avoiding scurvy – something we all might need in the north where citrus isn’t exactly native. Chives are also thought to help lower blood pressure and like garlic and onions, good in helping fight colds and flus.
Chives don’t need to be taken in tincture or tea form but are best just used as a regular part of the diet. Preserve chives by drying or freezing for off-season use. Infuse chive flowers in apple cider vinegar and then use that infused vinegar in salad dressings or take advantage of those cold-fighting powers by incorporating it in a hot soothing drink.
Lavender is amazing in meat marinades and in cookies but beyond its unique flavor and pleasant aroma, it contains many benefits that should earn it a bigger spot on your spice rack or in your culinary medicine cabinet. Lavender is known for it’s calming benefits by most everyone and to that end it should earn a spot in our gardens and homes to help ease stress or anxiety during those rough moments in life. It can be taken as a tea or even used as a bath soak as a way to calm the mind and body.
Dried lavender is also useful for calming bloated stomachs and can easily be sprinkled over yogurt or oatmeal for en easy way to get medicine into tummies.
Use lavender in healing salves to take advantage of its anti-fungal properties. The soothing scent of the salve will also help boost mood and spirit.
According to Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health sage is one of the best remedies for laryngitis and sore throats. Sage is considered a grounding and cooling herb making it an effective treatment for hot flashes.
Sage has been studied as an effective treatment for mood, memory, attention, as well as for enhancing mental performance. Sage is good for the teeth and gums, often being used in homemade tooth powders. All very handy for when running to the store might not be a convenient or possible option, and a healthy body often starts in the mouth.
As you go about building a home pharmacy don’t overlook the culinary herbs as an effective and often plentiful source for building up an herbal stockpile.
Additional References & Resources