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Kitchen Folk Medicine: Spice Rack Remedies

Affiliate Disclosure | in Natural Remedies | by | with 55 Comments

[info_box]Guest Blogger #14: Latisha Guthrie. Latisha, the HerbMother, is a mama of two earth daughters living and learning as an apprentice to mother earth. Join her for more fun with herbs everyday, every way: cook, clean, heal, and play.[/info_box]


Did you know that your roasted potatoes with rosemary could help prevent Alzheimer’s and that fennel hidden away in your pizza sauce is more than just the savory secret to your 100-year-old family recipe? Herbs. They are not only the difference between a good dish and a great one, but they have amazing healing powers as well. Natural medicine is becoming all the rage, but jumping in can be scary, expensive, and the herbs, hard to find. I mean, who’s ever heard of ashwaganda and does my basil need to be blessed to be holy? Echinacea and chamomile have had a rise in popularity, but I’d like to get even simpler than that. Most of your common culinary herbs may be all the medicine you’ll ever need. Come with me on a journey through the body and find out just how magical your spice cabinet can be.

First, let’s go back to those potatoes. Roasted potatoes in olive oil with a little sea salt and fresh rosemary must be one of the oldest dishes on the planet. In my house, we enjoy this at least once a week. More than just the perfect compliment to a tiny sweet red potato, rosemary finds many medicinal compliments with our noggin. It has been used for many years to help improve memory. A common remedy for sinus headaches, I have used it many times as a tea and felt immediate relief. Simply steep a few sprigs in an 8 oz glass of boiled water, covered for about 10 minutes and enjoy. It is also a wonderful treatment for dandruff. You can rinse your hair with the tea once a week or make a rosemary olive oil to rub on the scalp. Rosemary is also said to help you concentrate, so next time you’re having trouble getting that blog post written, lay a few sprigs on your keyboard and give em a rub once in a while to release their fragrance.

Getting to the throat. Sage is the perfect winter savory herb. Used often with fall vegetables, it appears in your kitchen just in time for those wet sore throats. Sage tends to be a drying herb that made as a tea with honey will soothe your sore throat so you can quickly get back in the kitchen.

Getting to the heart of the matter (sorry, I had to do it), the best thing you can do for your heart is to eat lots of garlic. I know you Twilight fans may be trying to avoid it, but it may be worth it: it both lowers cholesterol and prevents blood clots.

Breathing in a fresh sprig of thyme, I am instantly transported. When I was little and anyone had any issues with the lungs, my grandmother always made a tea of thyme. As an adult, I haven’t actually tried it, but everthyme I’m tearing off those little leaves to rub on my chicken I get nostalgic for a soupy cough. Thyme can be used for many other things as well. It can help bring on sweating, alleviate diarrhea, and ease headache tension. Do be careful not to use this herb for a prolonged length of time, however.

Moving down to the tummy. It seems everyone I know has some sort of trouble with digestion these days. There are many popular remedies for this. I’ll mention my favorite. Fennel tea. Take about 1 tsp and gently crush the seeds with a spoon. Pour 8 oz of boiling water over them and let steep, covered, for at least 10 minutes. As a nursing mother with a colicky baby, I drink two cups of fennel tea per day. I can eat most any food without upsetting my babe. If I get a little too garlicky with my hummus, I will give her a ½ dropper-full every half hour. It usually only takes one or two doses before she burps and is calmed. As an added bonus it is said to promote lactation, as well. If you don’t have fennel, many of the seed spices will do: dill, coriander, anise, caraway or cumin.

Jumping down to the knees, legs, and other muscle aches and pains, cayenne comes to mind. It contains a natural pain killer, which when rubbed on sore joints and muscles will immediately alleviate pain. Sprinkle a small amount in some olive oil and rub on affected area. Take care not to use this on any area with sores or mucous membranes.

Finally for relief from tired feet, try a peppermint foot soak. Muddle a few peppermint leaves in some cold water and enjoy! I’ve even been known to use peppermint extract, when I don’t have any fresh mint around.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our little adventure with folk kitchen herbals. I’d love to hear some of your old thyme kitchen cabinet cures.

A gently caution and bloggy disclaimer: Though all of the herbs mentioned are completely safe when used liberally in cooking, do take care with them as medicine. If you have specific health conditions, are taking prescription drugs, or using them on children make sure you feel confident there are no contraindications. I am not a medical professional, and this information is presented solely as an account of personal experience. Please use herbs safely and wisely and when in doubt seek professional care.

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55 Responses to Kitchen Folk Medicine: Spice Rack Remedies

  1. Julie says:

    Thank you so much for this post! We are trying to adopt natural remedies for our family and it is so wonderful to have such a wealth of information in one post. We use a lot of coconut oil around here for rashes, sore baby bottoms, cradle cap, dry skin etc. It’s not an herb but it is natural and in the kitchen :)

    • latisha says:

      ooh! i love coconut oil. we use it in many of our salves. it is anti-fungal so great for baby bums that get those spotty yeast rashes.

  2. jessamyn says:

    wise woman Latisha! i love you and these pictures are so beautiful!!!
    wonderful, beautiful wisdom.
    now…to plant my herb garden! 😉

  3. Plantain says:

    Great post! All tasty and easy to get herbs.
    The sage shot is as yummy as the sage itself.

  4. Angelica says:

    I am very interested in healing my body with natural methods. Thank you for this post!

  5. Donata says:

    Really Fabulous! And I want more. I will keep this as a favorite to remind myself of the wonders nature has to offer. Thank you!

  6. Georgia says:

    Thanks for all this information Latisha! I am a huge fan of natural remedies so I will have to start trying some of these.

  7. Annie says:

    You make me hungry for roasted potatoes. Wonderful post, Latisha! Very timely too. I was just going to post about Cinnamon and some of it’s incredible uses. We’re on the same wavelength.

  8. Rachael says:

    I love this post! You have a great way of getting us so excited about using and growing herbs. I work for a museum where we show historic foodways over time, and it’s amazing to see how involved we were with home remedies and flavors during the 18th century and so sad to see it tapper off in the Victorian era. It’s wonderful to explain to visitors who watch us prepare foods how easy and simplistic our bills of fare were at one time. “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy” by Hannah Glasse is a great read and with the holidays upon us, you just may induldge in a 1747 treat that uses lots of fresh herbs!

  9. Jennette Nielsen says:

    Latisha! Yay! Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme….. Thank you for sharing your herbal wisdome with all of us! i heart fennel root! xoxox!

  10. Tara says:

    loving you mama, and your infinite knowledge when it comes to herbs. thank you for continiuing to inspire!! can’t wait to see you on friday!!! <3

  11. Lisa says:

    Wow, Latisha! The pictures are so gorgeous and, along with the great advice, I’m off to the kitchen to make something I can feel good about. Thx!

  12. shannon says:

    Thanks for sharing! I’ll be trying many of these remedies in the coming months I’m sure! :) (especially the sore muscle ones!)

    • latisha says:

      thank you! just be sure to watch for open sores or cuts that cayenne will burn! will kill anything on contact, but it wont feel good.

  13. Drew says:

    Being the worse half of a relationship w/this wise witch doctor is extremely beneficial and enjoyable. Just think, this is just a surface scratch of what my girls and I get graced with daily. Thanks my dear.

  14. Half Assed Kitchen says:

    Fascinating. But, what happens if you use Thyme for too long?

    • latisha says:

      hak – some studies show that thyme can be damaging to the liver if taken over extended periods. but they are talking about medicinal amounts, so no worries if you use it regularly in cooking.

  15. Debbie says:

    HerbMother , Thank You for this post , as Shannon said I also will be trying these remedies.
    Have a Great Day

  16. Sister Yoshie says:

    I can’t wait to try the potatoes w/ rosemary. I finally grew enough rosemary to use and didn’t know what to do with it (besides smell it). I know the family will love this new dish.

  17. Lynn says:

    You’ve obviously done a lot of studying on this sugbject. I’m going to try several of your ideas tonight. Thank you for sharing.

  18. Kelly says:

    Great reminders about herbal medicine that can be found straight from mother nature in any grocery store or garden. Food is the best medicine for everybody. Thanks for sharing, Latisha.

  19. dorothy says:

    this is great! thank you!

  20. Nara says:

    Wow! This is great! I admire your experience and understanding of these and other herbs, I wish I had the same knowledge. Do any of these herbs grow well indoors? I would love to plant a useful herb garden in my kitchen window.

    • latisha says:

      you know nara, to be honest, we grow everything outside. i live in AZ so we get sunshine about 90% of the year. just add water and you have instant herb garden really.

      but culinary herbs typically do well indoors. Thyme, rosemary, and cilantro, would be a great combo pot indoors by a sunny window. And probably mint, by itself, it grows anywhere. ive also seen chives and sage as indoor herbs.

  21. Sativa says:

    I love the magical spice cabinet! Thank you for the beautiful post.

  22. Joanna Moore says:

    wow! thanks for the great info. will definitely be saving this for future reference =)

  23. jenica says:

    hey, i really do love this post. so much great info, thanks for sharing! (my first post got swallowed up somewhere. :-()

  24. latisha says:

    thanks to all my friends for coming here and spreading love and encouragement. and to those i dont know for offering your kind words.

  25. darlene says:

    ohhhhh … this is fantastic!! i always grow herbs in the spring summer months but am determined to do so this winter inside and i find this incredibly inspirational!! :-)

  26. lmt says:

    it’s the end of a long day and i am looking forward to going home and adding cayenne to olive oil and rubbing it on some sore joints. thanks for the idea.

  27. Rachael says:

    I didn’t know about thyme being used for headaches…my husband gets them all the time, so I’ll have to try that. Thanks!

  28. Kristine says:

    I really enjoyed this post! Thanks for the wonderful information!

  29. Shari VV says:

    Excellent information! I’m excited to know of your blog so I can follow it and use more herbs. I had never thought about rosemary tea before and can’t wait to try it. Thanks!

  30. Heather says:

    Latisha – This post goes beyond instruction into the realm of INSPIRATION. Reading your words made me feel like I was sitting with you at your kitchen table as the room filled with the fragrance of rosemary while we sipped fennel tea and nursed our babies. I will definitely be reading more at Herb Mother. You’re on my Google reader now :)

  31. cyndi coon says:

    This is so helpful thank you so much for sharing. Great Info!

  32. mb says:

    this is awesome…..

  33. stacy says:

    we make roasted potatoes like this all the time, now i can see them in a whole new light! this is a wonderful and informative post. i have been wanting to learn so much more about healing with herbs. wishing i could hang out in your kitchen sometime and soak in some of your herbal goddess wisdom. xo

  34. Brittany says:

    This is great! What a helpful post! I do have a question, though. Do dried herbs work the same way, or with all of these, do they have to be fresh? I just don’t have access to all of these fresh herbs, but I do have them dried. Can you enlighten me?

    • latisha says:

      brittany – dried herbs work great!! in fact that’s what i use much of the time too. fresh gives the best flavor, in my opinion, but dried herbs are also wonderful. and you may find you need less when they are dry as the flavors tend to concentrate. i wrote this post with the dried herb rack from your kitchen in mind. though i do buy mine from an herb shop, they are the same spices you get at the grocery store in the little bottles.

  35. Lisa says:

    I’ve tried all sorts of coughing syrups, believe me, but none of them helps. Even though Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa does not eliminates the cough I like to stick to this chinese syrup I’ve been taking since I was a kid: Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa. My grandfather is chinese, so I guess my mom got the advice from him. I was really surprised when I found that chinese market selling it here in Belgium. It does have a refreshing, soothing, sweetening effect…as long as it lasts…then back to coughing mode.

  36. HerbMagik says:

    Beautiful pictures :). I love roasted potatoes with rosemary…a staple in our house. Who knew??

  37. Mary at Herban Lifestyle says:

    What a lovely post. I love how you covered the wonderful medicinal uses of herbs from head to toe! You have inspired me. I am heading outside right now to harvest some rosemary, sage and thyme from the garden!

  38. Nathan says:

    While I love this post, I love even more the impact that Latisha’s writing about in this post has had on my family. My daughter spent three days in February with Latisha. When my daughter returned home she wanted to spend time in the garden, eat more healthy and take better care of herself. Lexus often times will share items she learned from Latisha about herbs, cooking and better health. Thank you Latisha for the amazing impact you had on Lexus.

  39. Monna Payne says:

    Great post, Latisha! Expect nothing less from you. :)

  40. erin says:

    i looove this! i have been wanting to start growing, and using herbs for a while– but wasn’t sure where to start.

  41. Trisha Sorenson says:

    Love the info! We are starting to map out all the new & exciting herbs we want in our garden for next summer! This summer got away from us w/ new baby & new house! Thanks girl!

  42. mary says:

    great post! i traveled here from herbmother, which i enjoy but usually have technical difficulties when trying to leave a comment! thanks for all your herb and tea posts :)

    • latisha says:

      thanks for all the lovin. im feeling so encouraged.

      mary – can you tell me about the probs with commenting? id love to fix them. sorry about that!

  43. Codi says:

    Excellent post Latisha! Thank you for your “shameless self promotion”. Haha. I think you are the one who did me the favor though. The information was well worth the side-trip to get here. I truly have a desire to learn more about the natural healing qualities of the herbal world, it is so fascinating. We have everything we need, growing in our generous and bountiful earth and yet so many of us run to the pharmacy only to spend our life savings on dissapointment and side-effects. It’s definately time to turn around and go back to our God-given inheritance and blessings. Thanks for sharing!

  44. Cori says:

    Thyme is a great home remedy. We also use it in a hot bath in case of arthritis, bronchitis and fatigue. For this I boiled one pound of thyme in a gallon of water. Then I add this decoction to my bath.

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