“Kitchen herbs” are foods so named in Chinese dietetics because they are added during cooking and eaten on a regular basis, to ensure their medicinal benefits will be received at a slow and steady rate. We have western herbs and spices that do this, too.
In addition to flavoring a meal, culinary herbs help you digest that meal. They also have high cancer-preventing anti-oxidant values, are anti-viral, anti-bacterial and possess many other properties, as you shall see. Here are a few culinary herbs, to give you the idea.
Basil aids digestion and has a mildly sedative quality for the relief of pain. Its properties are warm, aromatic, and pungent; its pharmaceutical name is Ocimum basilicum. Basil is in the mint family, which medicinally is one of the most useful families of herbs. Google Scholar and PubMed searches yielded many research studies of Ocimum basilicum, including anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, insect-repelling, and hair growth. World-wide, the chemical constituents of the plant’s oil are being studied for diverse conditions such as irritable bowel disease for its effects on the immune system, and stroke for its ability to prevent clot formation.
Oregano stimulates digestion and eases GI tract spasms that create gassiness. Its properties are warm, aromatic, and slightly bitter; its pharmaceutical name is Origanum vulgare. Oregano is also in the mint family. Google Scholar and PubMed searches yielded many research studies of Origanum vulgare, including anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial and insect-repellant properties, and the ability to promote hair growth.
Tarragon aids digestion and promotes appetite. Its properties are warm, strongly acrid and aromatic; its pharmaceutical name is Artemesia dracunculus. Tarragon is in the wormwood family, from which vermouth is made. Tarragon has the same chemical composition as anise, which is good for abdominal distention and pain. Google Scholar and PubMed searches yielded many research studies of Artimesia dracunculus, including testing its anti-fungal, anti-convulsant, anti-hyperglycemic, anti-parasitic, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and insect-repellant abilities.
Plants are complex constructs of many chemical compounds. What makes them medicinal powerhouses are their volatile oils, which have a molecular weight so light they are characterized as “sublime” or “ethereal” in the literature. Many studies have been and continue to be done, testing their effects on the central nervous system.
With some exceptions, culinary herbs are best consumed in their fresh form, but that is not always practical in our busy lives. Therefore, the rule of thumb to get the most benefit of their properties is to use 1 teaspoon of a dried herb and multiply that by roughly 4 when using fresh. Beginning with this quantity you can assess if it’s too much or too little and make adjustments to your taste.
When buying dried herbs it is preferable to spend a little more for the organically grown product, since it has become the standard practice of large manufacturers to irradiate herbs to increase their shelf life, and they are not yet required to label this practice.
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