Sunday, 18 January 2015

Kitchen Medicine - herbal goodness in your home

The theme for this week's post is kitchen medicine, using every day foods, herbs & spices for health and well-being.  I have had an interest in nutrition for health for a long time and have successfully eliminated conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Candidiasis by following dietary programmes.  I used to buy a lot of supplements in health-food shops but in recent years have moved away from this, preferring to get the benefits of food in its natural state.

A really nice book on this is 'the Green Pharmacy guide to Healing Foods' by James Duke which has some general sections on food as medicine and then specific section on foods for specific conditions.  For example the section on colds and flu recommends chicken soup, citrus fruits & other foods rich in vitamin C, elderberries, garlic, onions & leeks, ginger, honey, water & tea, yoghurt and brazil nuts & other foods rich in selenium for fighting colds and boosting immunity and gives reasons and evidence for why these work.

I have been making various remedies with common ingredients in my fridge and kitchen cupboards at home and at workshops run by my herbwife mentor Sarah Jane Head at her home in Solihull Here are some of them:

Cold Season Tea

Chop up about an inch-long piece of root ginger.

Squeeze half a lemon.

Pick a few fresh sage leaves.

Put in a cafetiere or tea-pot with boiled water & leave to brew for 10-15 minutes.  Use a cafetiere or tea-pot with a lid so you don't use any aromatic oils that might otherwise evaporate.

Pour into a mug with a teaspoon or two of honey - you could use a herbal honey such as rosehip honey if you have some - honey is anti-microbial and has lots of other healing properties.

Drink hot. 

You can use the same ingredients again during the day, just add more hot water.

This is my recipe, there are lots of variations on this.
 Sage growing in a pot in the patio outside the kitchen

Cold Season Tea brewing in cafetiere

Fire Cider Vinegar

Finely chop some horse-radish root.

Peel, chop & grate some root ginger.

Peel & finely chop half a bulb of garlic.

Chop some red chillies, keeping the seeds.

Turmeric powder.

A handful of rosehips.

Half fill a large jar with the solids, then fill with cider vinegar.

Steep in a warm dark place for 3 weeks, then strain off and bottle the vinegar.

You can do a second batch with the same ingredients, just add another lot of cider vinegar and leave to steep for another 3 weeks.

Take 2 teaspoon with 2 teaspoons of honey in a mug of boiling water if you feel you are coming down with something.  The ingredients really help the body to fight infection.

This is Sarah Head's recipe, again there are many variations on this.

Fire Cider Vinegar being steeped and the strained vinegar

Seville Orange Bitter

Chop the peel from 2 Seville oranges.

Put in a large empty jam jar with a tablespoon of cardamon pods and a few fennel or anise seeds.

Add a tablespoon of honey and top the jar with vodka, brandy, whisky or rum depending on preference.  I prefer the warm and palatability of brandy myself.

Keep in dark cupboard for a month shaking occasionally.

Strain off and bottle the liquid.

Take a teaspoon before meals to help digestion.

 This and other recipes for citric bitters can be found on Sarah Head's blog at

 Seville orange bitter being steeped

Herbal Deep Heat salve

25 g cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons mustard powder

5cm piece of fresh root ginger or 1 tablespoon of dried ginger

2 tablespoons of black pepper

300ml sunflower oil

Put the ingredients in a saucepan or heat-proof glass bowl inside a larger pan with gently boiling water to heat the pan containing the oil.

Cook for 2 hours, keep an eye on the pan, make sure it doesn't boil dry.

Strain the oil & discard the solid ingredients. 

Check the volume of the oil.  Put it in a pan with 1/8 beeswax to oil (eg 25g beeswax to 200 ml oil).  Heat gently in the water bath until the beeswax dissolves.

Pour into small jars and leave to cool. 

Apply small amounts of the salve for muscle aches, spasms and chillblains.  

The recipe come from 'Herbal Remedies' by Christopher Hedley and Non Shaw.
 The oil after infusing

 The oil with dissolved beeswax poured into jars - it is clear when hot

The finished salve, it goes opaque when it cools down

There are lots more ideas for remedies that can be made from things in your kitchen in the excellent book 'Kitchen Medicine' by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal

I hope this week's post will inspire you to discover the wealth of health benefits from the things that are in your fridge and kitchen cupboards.  Bon Appetit!

No comments:

Post a Comment