Consider looking at your windowsill or in your garden rather than immediately turning to the medicine cabinet when feeling the bothersome symptoms of many an ailment, suggests health specialist Tanya Borowski
Herbs have been used since the beginning of humanity, and for good reason as they have multiple, proven healing properties. A healing herb – otherwise knows a medicinal plant – is either collected from the wild or intentionally grown for its medicinal, or curative, value. A plant’s leaves, bark, roots, seeds, and/or flowers can be used to create your very own herbal remedies. Here are five of my favourites...
The health benefits of oregano come from a super charged blend of plant compounds: carvacrol, thymol, eugenol and beta-caryophyllene. Carvacrol and thymol are powerful antioxidants, which means they help to prevent free radicals from causing oxidative damage to our cells, which is linked to conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and dementia. It’s also a fantastic antimicrobial - often used as an anti-fungal, antibacterial and an antiviral .
Thyme is rich in plant phenols such as thymol and carvacrol which are powerfully anti-spasmodic, making them potent cough suppressants and an effective remedy for sore throats. Thyme also benefits the digestive system; thymol stimulates the wave like motions – peristalsis – so that food is not held in the stomach for prolonged periods of time. It also has antispasmodic action and can help to relieve cramping and reduce bloating. Finally, thyme is also a carminative, helping to prevent the formation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract which helps to combat flatulence and wind.
Peppermint is often used to relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, including indigestion, dyspepsia, and gut muscle spasms. The healing properties of peppermint are related to its smooth muscle relaxing ability. Once the smooth muscles surrounding the intestine are relaxed, there is less chance of spasm and the indigestion that can accompany it.
Spearmint is another wonderful herb that has an anti-androgenic effect; that is, it can reduce testosterone levels in women that are associated with acne. Hormonal acne is often caused by a type of hormones in your body called androgens. The most well-known androgen is testosterone.
Androgens cause increased sebum production which is produced by sebaceous glands located in hair follicles. Increased sebum leads to a higher chance of blockages, which lead to breakouts. In two clinical trials, women with hirsutism (male-patternhair growth) drank spearmint tea twice a day for either five days (2007 study) and for 30 days (2009 study). The hormone levels in their blood were then measured. In both trials, testosterone levels decreased by about one-third.
Deriving its name from the Latin word “salvere”, meaning “to be saved”, it has many uses. Traditionally, sage was used as a remedy for inflammation of the mouth and throat, as it helps to strengthen and tone the gums, acting as a great preventive against gingivitis and gum disease.
Sage also has the power to enhance memory. It inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinesterase which breaks down one of the brain’s ‘chemical messengers’, acetylcholine.
Finally, one of the most common symptoms of menopause is uncontrolled and unexpected sweating and hot flushes. Sage has been traditionally used to treat these symptoms. In a small open multi-centre human study with 71 menopausal women, sage
was found to be effective in reducing hot flushes after eight weeks. Worth a try, ladies?
So next time you are doing your weekly shop, pick up a new plant pot to pop on your windowsill and start trying some of mother nature’s healing herbs. Bon appetit!
In health, Tanya.