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Incorporating medicinal herbs in our diet?

 
steward
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I know that many herbal remedies are tinctures or essential oils, or are 'prepared' in some way. But is it possible to get the benefits of the herbs just by incorporating them in our diets?

I assume that some would be difficult to use - some of the remedies that use different barks, or very woody parts of the plant might not be all that appealing. But there are lots of herbs that are quite tasty, as well as medicinal. So, if we ate a lot of them, would we reap the medical benefits, or do they need to be prepared in a specific way to get the full benefit?
 
gardener
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Tricky question, because, as you indicate, it depends on the herb and use.  The Wahls diet uses the medicinal properties of some herbs in it's eating recommendations.  Chinese medicine also uses a lot of food as medicine.

But, a topical application would need to be at the proper location. Certain herbs, such as teas  may have an olfactory component which may or may not carry through food. Also, often times there's a chemical in the herbs that is responsible for it's medicinal properties. Therefore, as in chemistry class, if you do different things to it, such as chill, dry, cook, mix it with other things,  you may or may not loose that chemical.  For instance. Apple cider vinegar added to muffin mix would negate the properties of the apple cider vinegar,  but apple cider vinegar added to salad dressing would be great  
 
gardener
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i think that this would vary on the herb you are consuming and even how you are consuming or preparing it.  The thing about a herbal preparation for medicines is that it often concentrates a medicinal factor from many (a bulk amount) of the herb.  

As an example, you would cram a jar with yarrow leaves or flowers, or whole plant, or root, or some combination, and then pour alcohol over it, and lid it, and then you would let it sit (turning it daily for a month or so), and thus some qualities of all those yarrow bits are moved into the alcohol and this is a stabilized form that you strain off the herbal bits.  

Some herbal essences within the herb are more soluble than others, so one constituent might be more concentrated from the yarrow tincture, than another which is more dominant in the raw form, or when made into tea, decoction, poultice, salve, or oil.  This might not be the case, the primary medicine is often the one that is concentrated in the tincture, and so you might get the same stuff in the raw form, though in a less concentrated volume.   A nibble of fresh yarrow, on the other hand,  is bound to give you a dash of it's goodness, and in a pure raw form that is potentially not at all available in the tincture since you just ate it fresh, so in that regard you might be getting quite a different medicinal experience... or not (depending on the herb, and what you expect to get from it).  That's the way I see it anyway.  Some herbs have a variety of ailments that they work with, and some of them use very specific parts for those specific needs.  As a fictitious example you might see that yarrow is good for such and such ailment, if prepared from the root, but not so much from the flower.  So unless you eat the root, that specific medicine is not likely to be assimilated, and in that same vein and fictitious example and to bring the paragraph back to it's beginning, sometimes it is necessary to have a volume of the herbal roots of yarrow to have a marked beneficial effect.    

As another example, I consume stinging nettle chewed raw, juiced (as well as frozen juice), steamed, fried with eggs, and boiled in a pasta sauce, and tea of dried leaves amongst other possible iterations.  I'm sure that some methods are going to destroy some medicinal components of the nettle that other methods are allowing me to assimilate.    

The short answer to how I think of it, is that you do get some medicinal herbal benefits by eating a tasty medicinal herb, but it might not be the exact same medicine as a tincture, and will likely not be as concentrated considering how many medicines are prepared.  
 
pollinator
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For leafy herbs I'd go with making pesto. We make it all the time out of parsley, cilantro, plantain, nettle, mint, etc.. Stronger tasting leafy herbs can be mixed with more tasty ones. We use sunflower or olive oil and almonds or walnuts (both soaked before use) and it is super duper tasty and a great way to eat way more leafy herbs than you normally would.
 
pollinator
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I know a very useful way to use medicinal herbs in our diet! BITTERS

I eat them first thing in the morning, directly in the garden, and usually eating a piece of butter with them! (this part I don't know... if it is better to have them alone... maybe there are some liposoluble elements and my instinct is right!)
My goal is to produce enough stomach acid, and get the benefit of this activation for the day.

I usualy chew a piece of aloe at home, then go and chose what I feel like... and I trust instinct when my choice is dandelion and not a piece of chocolate! I also take a leaf of olive and some artichoke leave... then anything like parsley, cilantro, miners lettuce or poppies...
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
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The other herb I use is nasturtium. They are very good in case of bronchitis, same as radish, they have this pungeant taste.

Eat the flowers and young leaves raw, the leaves are stronger.

Use them also in tortillas! Beautiful!
 
pollinator
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Xisca Nicolas wrote:The other herb I use is nasturtium.


I read about people eating a few fresh nasturtium leaves to kick the cold. They said it went away and didn't come back. I didn't get a chance to try yet since I very rarely have colds. Last one I had I kicked with lomatium tincture.
 
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With this subject it's clear many culinary herbs are basically medicinal and further many help digestion, making other foods consumed with it more bioavailable, like pepper, cumin & ginger do for digesting turmeric. Then our food becomes what preventative measure we can take thru our food intake. Higher doses of which are medicinal if we do happen to stray into illness. Good luck to us all here. It's an odyssey, tho natural, not an oddity. OgreNick
 
gardener
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I know pepper make our body absorb the tumeric better.  This is the first I've heard about cumin and ginger being grouped witb is.  Is this a cooperative quartet or a list if foods that pepper also works with?
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
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Yes, pepper is mentionned everywhere as if it had to be repeated!
But mentionned for getting a better medicinal effect, not for a better digestion of turmeric though!

So what?
And also, I would be delighted to use something else, as pepper is too hot for me, not about taste, but about its effect on me.
 
master steward
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I have often seen recommendation of turmeric and ginger or turmeric and cayenne pepper.  It is the health benefits that both can offer.

Turmeric and ginger both have antioxidant properties, decrease inflammation, and digestion-related issues.

Turmeric and cayenne pepper are included in recipes in many types of ethnic cuisines and have healing effects for many ailments, digestive problems and even diseases such as cancer.

I feel this is a great topic and appreciate Tracy starting it.

Many spices common in cooking have also been used medicinally by various cultures throughout history.
 
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