How to Use Your Kitchen Herbs as “Medicines”

by | Apr 23, 2020 | Nutrition, Recipes

How to Use Your Kitchen Herbs as “Medicines”

There are several ways to use the herbs and spices in your kitchen.

  • Added to food: Herbs and spices are so much more than just flavour enhancers; they have beneficial healing powers. Use them in small amounts and adjust to your tastes as needed. It’s important to pay attention to how you feel as you use them. Add herbs and spices to your smoothies, soups, vegetable dishes, and even desserts.

As a tea/infusion: Many dried or fresh flowers or leaves can be simply placed in a cup or non-metal teapot, covered with boiling water, and allowed to steep for 10 – 20 minutes (strain before drinking). The general guideline is 1 teaspoon of herb per cup of water or 30g of the combined total of dried herbs to each litre of water. For a stronger brew, you can use up to 1 tablespoon of a herb. For herbs that are not already powdered, simmering may be required to attain a strong enough brew to have medicinal effects. Herb teas can also be brewed in a thermos bottle, which will keep them warm all day and travels well, too. For medicinal effects, drink 1/2 cup tea 2 – 4 times per day, between meals.

  • As a decoction: Decoctions are made from roots, bark, seeds, or stems. To decoct, simmer 30g of dried herbs for every 750 ml of water for thirty minutes to one hour in a covered pot. Strain and drink. The dosage for decoctions is the same as for the infusions.
  • As a topical application: For many herbs and spices, you can make a tea, also known as an infusion, and allow the mixture to cool to a comfortable temperature. Then soak clean washcloths in the infusion and apply the cloth to the affected area.
  • As eyewashes: Use the same process as the topical application; however, you need to strain the infusion more thoroughly. I recommend triple straining through a fine-mesh strainer, nut milk bag, or cheesecloth.
  • As salves: Some powdered herbs can be stirred into melted coconut oil then refrigerated to harden. These salves are especially useful for skin applications and for treating haemorrhoids. Cayenne pepper has been shown to be helpful for treating peripheral neuropathies (complications of diabetes). Commercially available creams can have lots of preservatives. You can make your own hot pepper cream by stirring approximately 3 tablespoons of cayenne into 1 cup of coconut oil. Don’t touch your eyes!!

As an infused vinegar: While not as potent as alcohol-based tinctures, this extract is a strong alternative for children, anyone abstaining from alcohol, or those with alcohol sensitivities. Dried herbs tend to produce the most effective medicinal vinegar extract, but fresh herbs can be used to make nutritive vinegars for culinary recipes since the vinegar will extract minerals as well as the flavour of the herbs. As a general guide, take 1 tablespoon of the infused vinegar up to 5 times a day when needed, unless you are working with potent low/drop dosage herbs. Due to the acid content in vinegar, you should be sure to avoid direct contact with your teeth. You may want to mix each dose of medicinal vinegar with water or tea to dilute the acidity. To make, add herbs to your favourite vinegar. The most medicinal vinegar is apple cider, but coconut vinegar and umeboshi vinegar are also very alkalizing. Add 1/4 cup of dried herb or 3/4 – 1 cup of finely minced fresh herbs to a 500 ml of vinegar and allow the mix to sit at room temperature for at least a few days, preferably 2 weeks or longer for full effect (will keep indefinitely).

  • As an oil infusion: Infused oils can be used for culinary purposes as well as externally on the skin. Make sure that the oil is a good quality cold-pressed oil. Sesame and extra virgin olive or coconut oil are the most commonly used. Prepared similarly to infused vinegar, add 1/4 cup of dried herb or 3/4 – 1 cup of finely minced fresh herb to a pint of oil. Allow the oil infusion to sit at room temperature for at least a few days, preferably 2 weeks or longer for full effect (if refrigerated and properly kept from air, heat, and light will keep for 1 – 2 years).


The Herbs and Their Uses


  • Prevents or relieves gas and flatulence
  • Treats vomiting, stomach ache, diarrhea, and indigestion
  • Stimulates the appetite
  • Remedy for fever, cold, and flu
  • Useful in fighting yeast and fungal infections
  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Helps relieve excessive menstrual bleeding and cramps


  • Strong antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antioxidant and
  • antimicrobial activity
  • Stimulates the appetite
  • Relieves gas
  • Eases upset stomach, motion sickness, and nausea
  • Mild diuretic
  • Helps relieve constipation
  • Helps with respiratory problems
  • Helps prevent rapid blood sugar elevation after eating
  • Improves mood
  • Anti-aging properties
  • Source of vitamin A, magnesium, potassium,
  • iron, and calcium

Bay Leaves

  • Stimulant for the skin and skin health
  • Good source of minerals and vitamins,
  • especially vitamins A and C
  • Immunity building
  • Wound healing
  • Joint pains, muscle pain, rheumatism, sprain, arthritis
  • Carminative – soothing for digestion
  • Blood sugar balancing
  • Menstrual balance
  • Relieves throat inflammations
  • Relaxing effect for nervousness
  • Insect repellent

Black Pepper

  • Stimulates the digestive organs
  • Increases saliva and other gastric juices
  • Relieves indigestion and flatulence


  • One of the more effective remedies against bad breath
  • Fights tooth and gum decay
  • Relieves sore throat and laryngitis
  • Helps with indigestion, constipation, gas, and heartburn
  • Soothes a variety of kidney, bladder, and urinary problems
  • Fights depression and reduces stress
  • Contains cancer-fighting chemicals


  • Cardiovascular benefits
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Increases appetite
  • Improves digestion
  • Thins phlegm
  • Eases the passage of phlegm from lungs
  • Relieves gas, nausea, and indigestion
  • Helps with pain from psoriasis, fibromyalgia, shingles, and arthritis
  • Has vitamins E, D, K, carotenoids, and B complex
  • Source of calcium, potassium, manganese, and dietary fibre


  • As a tea, can be used for lumbago, rheumatic problems, and rashes
  • As a tea, helpful as an eyewash for conjunctivitis – cool and strain well
  • As a salve, can be used for hemorrhoids and wounds
  • As a vapor, can be used to alleviate cold symptoms or asthma
  • As a mouthwash, it can soothe mouth inflammations and keep gums healthy
  • Helpful remedy for stress, anxiety, and tension
  • Good for emotional disorders
  • A gentle sedative for insomnia
  • Soothes skin rashes
  • Relieves restlessness, teething problems, and colic in children
  • Aids in digestion when taken as a tea after
  • meals
  • Relieves morning sickness during
  • pregnancy
  • Speeds healing of skin ulcers, wounds, or
  • burns
  • Reduces stomach and bowel inflammation
  • Relaxes colon so aids in irritable bowel
  • Relaxes smooth muscles of the uterus helps ease the discomfort of menstrual
  • cramping


  • Antibacterial, antiviral
  • Treats weak digestion and stomach upset
  • Increases appetite
  • Helps lower blood sugar
  • Helps lower blood pressure
  • Helps regulate menstrual cycles
  • Helps reduce stress and anxiety


  • Potent pain-deadening microbial
  • Stop-gap measure for tooth pain
  • Helps lower blood sugar
  • Uses insulin more effectively
  • Speeds healing with cold sores


  • Great source of iron
  • Relieves colds, fevers, and sore throats
  • Aids digestion and relieves constipation
  • May prevent cancer
  • Relieves insomnia
  • Increases milk supply when breastfeeding
  • Maintains healthy skin


  • Limits the growth of cancer cells
  • Treats gastrointestinal disorders
  • Helps with insomnia and other sleep disorders
  • Assists with the removal of stomach acid


  • Helps treat diabetes
  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Lowers bad cholesterol
  • Maintains good metabolism
  • Prevents constipation
  • Purifies the blood
  • Flushes out harmful toxins
  • Increases breast milk for nursing mothers


  • Natural antiseptic
  • Powerful cancer fighter
  • Helps lower cholesterol
  • Reduces plaque
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Lowers the risk of atherosclerosis
  • Effective against digestive upset
  • Anti-diarrhea


  • Digestive aid
  • Settles the stomach
  • Relieves vomiting
  • Eases pain from gas and diarrhea
  • Anti-nausea
  • Helps with motion sickness
  • Pain relief for arthritis
  • Lowers bad cholesterol
  • Lavender
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia and other sleep disorders
  • Circulatory disorders
  • Relieves headache pain
  • Relieves menstrual cramps
  • Relieves symptoms of anxiety, such as restlessness


  • Relaxes the body to help fall asleep
  • Stimulates the brain to ward off stress
  • Helps with pain – from general aches to arthritis
  • Antibacterial properties to relieve inflammation and sores
  • May fight against certain leukemia cells
  • Stimulates appetite
  • Relieves gastrointestinal distress like gas
  • and bloating
  • Removes toxins in the liver and kidneys
  • Helps remove kidney stones


  • Respiratory issues such as stuffy
  • noses and coughs
  • Expectorant
  • Aids with menstrual cramping
  • Helps with digestion
  • Potent antimicrobial, antiviral, and
  • antifungal
  • Natural antiseptic
  • Helps lower blood pressure
  • Helps with candidiasis
  • Contains vitamins A, C, and flavonoids


  • Diuretic
  • Aids in relieving urinary tract infections
  • Kidney and bladder stones
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Stimulates menstruation


  • Calms certain cold ailments
  • Eases the symptoms of digestive upset
  • Soothing effect for coughs
  • Opens the sinuses
  • Relieves headaches, nerve pains, and
  • toothaches
  • Eases painful menstrual cramps and
  • nausea


  • Antibacterial, antioxidant
  • Dispels gas and increases stomach acid
  • Eases headaches and migraines
  • Combats mental fatigue
  • Increases concentration and memory
  • Helps regulate menstrual cycle
  • Speeds wound healing
  • Relieves eczema itch
  • Regulates blood pressure
  • Eases pain from rheumatism and arthritis


  • Effective at treating mild to moderate depression
  • Helps clear airways for asthma remedy
  • Helps with sleepless nights
  • Decreases the chances of getting
  • arteriosclerosis
  • Aid in the fight against cancer
  • Can induce and regulate
  • menstruation
  • Relieves menstrual pain, and reduce
  • chronic bleeding


  • Improves appetite
  • Ease inflammation, particular of the
  • mouth
  • Help slow milk production for nursing
  • mothers


  • Relieves pain from toothaches
  • Improves natural digestion
  • Rids bowels of intestinal parasites
  • Induces menstruation


  • Cough suppressant
  • Helps treat bronchitis and
  • whooping cough
  • Useful for chronic candidiasis
  • Good for bad breath
  • Used to treat indigestion
  • Helps with infections


  • Powerful anti-cancer properties
  • Anti-inflammatory effects
  • Helps to relieve rheumatoid arthritis
  • Effective against Alzheimer’s
  • Helps with carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Helps prevent cataracts
  • Antioxidant
  • Contains vitamins A, C, and E

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