An anti-inflammatory powerhouse, turmeric is used in everything from skin care to weight-loss and even arthritis support. The bright yellow colour indicates that turmeric is rich in antioxidants, helping cells to fight damage. It is best used in cooking and in combination with other digestive spices such as ginger, black pepper, cumin or fennel. If you have fresh turmeric root, then add 1-2cm (½-1in) to a freshly made vegetable or fruit juice. Be aware that with turmeric, as well as some other kitchen herbs and spices, large amounts might disagree with some digestive systems. Large amounts are not required unless advised by your herbalist. Be careful when juicing or cooking with turmeric as it leaves hard-to-remove stains.
Not only a gentle aid to support digestion, cinnamon can help stabilise blood sugar levels and balance mood and energy swings. It is naturally sweet and can be a useful alternative to sugar when we crave sweets. Sprinkle cinnamon powder on oats, and use whole cinnamon sticks in soups and stews. Alternatively, have it as a tea, particularly when feeling stressed or low in energy.
Dandelion root supports our detoxification pathways. It is a bitter herb, and can help promote bile secretions, speed up digestion and reduce bloating. Simmer a handful of dandelion roots in 2 pints of water for 20 minutes and let cool down. The liquid can be stored in the fridge for 3 days and can be sipped before meals to support digestion. Your herbalist can also prepare a tincture made of herbal bitters including dandelion, which can be taken before meals.
Excellent for detoxification, nettle is able to increase urine production, helping speedily remove toxins. Nettle contains histamine that blocks the body’s own histamine production, slowly de-sensitising the effects of allergen – drinking nettle tea can be a helpful preparation for hay fever season. Nettle is rich in nutrients, has anti-inflammatory properties and can support the nervous system. Add fresh nettle leaves from your garden (beware its sting!) to soups and stews.
Rosemary is a powerful antioxidant, protecting our cells. It is also good for blood circulation and aids our liver in its important function of detoxification. Fresh rosemary is best; add it to your cooking, or infuse your apple cider vinegar with a few sprigs of rosemary and use for your salad dressing. Add some garlic to the vinegar for extra cardiovascular benefits! Rosemary should be avoided in high blood pressure and can be very ‘heating’ for some people. Sage would be a good alternative in such cases. Rosemary essential oil can be diluted in almond or olive oil and used as a rub for cold joints and tense neck and shoulder muscles.
Anti-inflammatory and ‘nervine’, to calm and help us relax. It’s soothing on the digestive system, and a helpful sleep remedy as a bedtime drink. It can be of benefit if you have stress-related digestive disorders and it’s a good first-aid remedy for stomach upsets.
Moderates the immune system, and is a popular home remedy for preventing colds and flu. Have Echinacea drops and lozenges on hand during the winter months or ask a herbalist for a personalised immune-boosting tincture containing Echinacea. It’s such a powerful immune booster that it should not be taken with medication that acts on the immune system.
A powerful anti-viral and antibacterial herb that can help reduce fevers and relieve colds and inflammation, it can warm you from the core, as well as help reduce nausea. It’s best used freshly chopped with your food, or as a tea with half a lemon and with a little natural sweetener or a pinch of cinnamon.
Highly calming and nervous system supporting, use lavender as an essential oil on your pillow to improve sleep quality, or add a few drops to a relaxing bath. Lavender flower extract can be used in recipes, adding a flavoursome twist to treats!
Often found as an ingredient in herbal tea blends, liquorice supports our nervous system and adrenals in dealing with stress, helping us feel calm and strong. Particularly where there is disturbed sleep or restlessness, a cup of liquorice tea before bed might do the trick. It does not have to be taken in high amounts for its medicinal benefits. If you are on medication or if you dislike the taste of liquorice, try cinnamon instead, or ask your herbalist for a herbal blend that suits you.
Remember that herbs are very powerful. Some of them are not appropriate for everyone. Daily use of liquorice root, for example, is not suitable for people with high blood pressure because of its active component (glycyrrhizin). For therapeutic purposes, working with an accredited herbalist is the best way to ensure the right dose and form, and in a combination that addresses your specific individual needs most effectively.click on blue writing to purchase