Tag Archives: ginger

The health benefits of a jolly good cuppa…

It is snowing where I live today.  In the UK, snow is either greeted with unadulterated glee or with unadulterated dread.  I am not that bothered by the white stuff myself, but I will confess to loathing attempting to get around in this weather.  I am a capable driver.  It’s the other idiots on the road that I worry about.

snowflakes

Anyway, with this cold and snowy weather, I love making steaming hot cups of tea.  I love tea.  I love coffee as well, but I do feel that tea is somehow encoded in my DNA.  My Mother’s family were tea planters, and some of their knowledge has been passed down to us.  We know a lot less than they did, of course, but I find the best cup of tea is without milk, possibly with a slice of lemon.  Obviously, you make it in a pot, preferably with leaves rather than bags, and you always warm the pot before pouring the hot water over the leaves and leaving it to steep.  If you have to put milk in tea, then put it in after the tea has been poured.

tea and lemon

A few years ago, my husband and I made a deal with one another.  If we were going to drink more tea and coffee than we strictly ought to, then we needed to make it the absolute best quality we could.  That is what we have done.  We get fabulous tea from a supplier in Canada (yes, I am serious!).  It is my best friend’s favourite tea shop, and when we were visiting there last year, we went in and bought stocks of my favourite blend.  Seriously this tea (The Baroness, by The Tea Girl) is the most restorative cuppa I think I have ever had the delight of tasting.  It takes me from utter exhaustion to back up on my feet and raring to go.

It got me thinking though.  We all know that tea is an antioxidant and it doesn’t deliver as much caffeine as coffee does, but does it help with anything else?  Turns out yes.  Black tea reduces the risk of kidney stones and artheroclorsis, osteoporosis and helps to raise low blood pressure.  Oolong tea is great for mental alertness and Green tea… well, this might be the biggest super food out there.  People have claimed it has cancer prevention properties, but that might be accounted for by the fact it is an antioxidant., but it also lowers high cholesterol and helps with the old mental alertness.  I really don’t like green tea.  I don’t like the taste of it.

oolong tea

Then I looked into  Tisanes.  Well, first of all what is a tisane is any hot drink made of something not from a camellia bush.  Yes, really.  Tea is the only hot drink that comes from the camellia bush.  Any other infusion is strictly a tisane.  (My tea planter Uncle, a mild mannered man, was extremely vociferous on this topic).  Herbally, we know that chamomile calms and peppermint is great for soothing stomach pain.  But a Thyme tisane is great for coughs.  And Ginger infusion is brilliant for nausea, dizziness and menstrual cramps.

snowy

I think, in this cold and snowy weather, hot drinks are a must.  And if they do you good, then so much the better!  Keep safe and warm!

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I am back… with healthy jelly shots… no, really.

I know, I know, it has been months.  I am sorry for abandoning this blog, and the many other parts of my life which have been sacrificed on the altar of getting the new house up and running.  Well, the latter hasn’t happened either really, as I suspect that is a Labour of Hercules, but here are the highlights of what has been going on in the life of Viridian Herbalist…

really long lists

-Painting in the new house like chairs, front doors and stuff trying to make the house our own.  We actually own the place now, so that is a step forward.

– Keeping on top of laundry and cleaning in a bigger house juggling typically difficult English weather

– Moving my Mum from the wilds of Wiltshire to a flat complex next door but three to the new house, and organising getting her place sorted out as well as ours

– Going to Adoption Panel and being approved as Adoptive parents, and now getting on to the matching process, with yet another new social worker.

– Getting inspiration for a story which is really going well.  I have written over 14,000 words of it so far, and I keep on going.  Although I have always loved creative writing, I don’t think I have ever managed to sustain a story and characters for so long.

– Going on holiday to Canada to stay with my best friend and her family and having a fabulous time

– Coming back to dear old Blighty and getting ourselves over jet lag and back into the swing of life, the universe and everything.

vegetables

I have, however, now decided that it is time to get back to posting and doing Herbalism studies, before we get matched with our potential children, at which point, all bets are off again until we get into some kind of routine.  Let’s not borrow trouble though.  It is good to be back posting!

 

So, I did some searching on Pinterest for a really good thing to post about for my return post.  I found a really interesting pin from http://commonsensehome.com/ about making home made immune boosting jelly shots.  Who doesn’t like jelly shots?!  Usually the ones I have had are rather alcoholic and not good to consume in large or small quantities (though they are fun!).  But this is a really simple recipe, and a great idea to boot.  Especially as with the change of season we are moving into a very active period for colds and flu.  Anything that might help increase my immune system and stop the germs getting to me and slowing me down has got to be a good idea.

 

Obviously you need to think about which herbs help to build up your immune system.  There are lots of suggestions on the website but I am considering making two varieties.  One will be the tasty, fruity and spicy sort, using grapefruit juice, honey, cinnamon and ginger, maybe with a bit of mint added in for its antiviral properties.  That can be the prophylactic if you will, the one to stop the infections if at all possible.  The second sort I will make will be the “shock troops”, the one to be brought out to fight if my body succumbs.  They will have echinacea (from tea most likely), garlic, ginger, maybe sage.  They won’t taste very nice, but hopefully they will do the trick.

agaragar

These jelly shots are made using plain gelatin, not the commercially bought flavoured gelatin.  The flavours will come from the fruit juice and the herbs.

 

You need 3 tablespoons of plain powdered gelatin or agar agar for Kosher/Vegan/Vegetarians.

1 cup of cold fruit juice

3 cups of heated fruit juice, heated with the herbs of choice, or 2 cups of fruit juice and 1 cup of hot tea

2 tablespoons of honey

 

You sprinkle the gelatin over the cold juice in a large bowl and let it stand for 1 minute.  Add in the hot juice and stir until the gelatin dissolves, which could take up to 10 minutes. Stir in the honey if you want to include it.  Pour the mixture into a rectangular dish of choice, but make sure it will be easy to cut into 1 inch cubes.  Refrigerate until firm, which will take about 3 hours and then you can cut them up.

gelatin-flu-shots

This mix can make up to 9 dozen, but the recipe can be cut in half.  I will probably keep the shots in the fridge, and take one daily to boost the immune system and if I succumb to the bugs, then up the dose to 2 a day.

 

If you do make these, let me know how you get on with them!

 

Allergy season is definitely upon us…

I am lucky.  I don’t suffer from hayfever.  But this last couple of weeks, the pollen from the plants have even got up my nose.  I have been sneezing and rubbing strangely itchy eyes.  I understand these are some common symptoms of the dreaded hayfever, along with sore throats and dry coughs.

hayfever

I wondered if there was anything I could find online to help.  Unfortunately I do not have a magic wand to cure hayfever.  I wish I did.  I know it makes people miserable, and uncomfortable, and I wish I could help you all.  Plus… let’s face it, if I could cure it, I would make millions!

 

However, I did find an allergy relief syrup which might help.  All the ingredients of this recipe need to be organic, and it should really help with the sore throats and the dry coughs.

honey and lemon

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of grated ginger

1 tablespoon of raw honey (either local to your area, or manuka)

1/2 teaspoon of bee pollen

1 tsp lemon juice

 

Combine all of the ingredients and warm slightly so the honey is runny.  Once it is all combined, put it in a clean glass jar and take a teaspoon of this twice daily.  The honey will coat the throat and will help to ease the soreness and dry cough, and the ginger and cinnamon will clear the nose and shake up and congestion.  The bee pollen may actually help you to become less sensitive to the pollen particles in your local area.

 

 

I hope it works for those of you who suffer.

Ouch… herbal pain relievers…

The idea for this morning’s blog has come out of yesterdays topic.  It is all well and good trying to prevent inflammation, but sometimes, the pain is there and although it isn’t bad enough to reach for the painkillers (remember what I said… if you need them, use them!) you wish there was something you could take naturally for it.

 

The good news is that yes, there are several different things you can try.  Of course, there are also lots of different sorts of pain.  I was going to give you the top ten natural painkillers… but I have actually found 11 of them.  So here comes the top 11 natural painkillers.

garlic

Number one is Garlic.  I loooove garlic, and it is absolutely awesome as an antibiotic.  I remember it being referred to as Russian Penicillin.  It is also good for earache.  That is one of the worst forms of pain you can have to my mind.   If you infuse some oil with crushed garlic and then drop the warmed oil into the ear (by the drop rather than the gallon) it works a treat apparently.  Thankfully, earache is not something I usually suffer with, for which I am very, very grateful!

cloves 2

Second on the list is cloves.  Cloves are fabulous for toothache and gum inflammation (plus they taste fabulous with Ham.  Sorry… I digress!)   I think toothache is almost as miserable as earache.  You do have to be careful with clove oil, the essential oil, though.  It can be very, very powerful.  I would actually put one clove in the mouth and crunch it.  That should do it.  Your breath will smell spicy, though you might need a gallon or so of water to wash the woody bit of the clove out of your mouth!

 

Three is Apple Cider Vinegar again.  Apparently it is great for heartburn, which is another good reason for taking it before you eat in some water.

ginger root

Four is ginger.  Ginger is great for muscle pain and is actually a constituent of several of the popular muscle balms you can get.  It also smells fabulous and tastes even better.

 

Cherries and Tumeric come in at five and six on this list.  I wrote about them yesterday, so please refer back if you are interested!

peppermint oil

Peppermint comes in at number 7.  It says in my research that Peppermint is good for sore muscles, but I also know it is EXCELLENT for headaches.  It is actually the menthol in the essential oil which is the force at work.  I also love the smell.  It is fresh and vibrant and green.  Yes, smells can be green.  Don’t look at me like that!  I know what I mean!

pineapple

A strange entry at number 8 is pineapple.  It is great for stomach bloating and gas.  Actually, this makes sense because pineapple is packed with important enzymes, and as your stomach is a veritable maelstrom of enzymes, pineapple is likely to even things out.  Lets face it, a bloaty and gassy tummy is all about imbalance somewhere in the system, so anything to even the scales is a good thing.

water drop

Good old water is number 9.  If you have a lot of pain, keep up the water intake.  Dehydration plus pain is not a pleasant mixture, and should be avoided.  Apparently water is good for general injury and pain.  I take that to mean, if in doubt, drink water.

horseradish

Number 10 is Horseradish.  This is great for sinus pain.  Of course, while it is clearing the blockages, it causes significant sinus pain, but boy oh boy does it work a treat on a blocked sinus cavity.

blueberries

And… drum roll please… number 11 is for the pain and discomfort caused by bladder and urinary tract infections.  Blueberries.  Interesting… I knew about cranberries but apparently blueberries have the same chemical in them and so both are good for helping to clear them up.

 

That was an interesting bit of research for me to do, and I hope it helps you too.

Ouchy. Moving houses = sore muscles

Today, I am helping my in laws move from the big house (which my husband and I will eventually move into) and into the house they have built.  It will be an exciting day, but I can also guarantee that we will all have sore muscles by the end of it.

sore muscles

So, here are a couple of possibilities which I might be making up very soon.

 

First of all, I like to rub in ointments onto sore muscles, but I hate using the preparations you can get from the pharmacy.  Although the heat is nice, if you apply too much it can feel like it is burning your skin, and that is not a nice feeling.  So, one recipe for a homemade ointment is to take a tablespoon of several herbs, and to infuse them in oil.  To make an efficient liniment, you need to have herbs which are external tonics, anti-inflammatories and also counter irritants.  So, I would use some or all of lavender, rosemary, calendula, chamomile, camphor, ginger, eucalyptus, and wintergreen .  You need to make sure these, and 2-4 cups of oil, are put into a non-metal double boiler as the chemicals in the herbs might react with a metal container.

ointment

Simmer the herbs in the oil for about an hour.  Strain through a muslin cloth and press the herbs to get as much goodness from them as possible.  Melt separately 2-3 tablespoons of beeswax and mix into the oil and then place it all in a sterilised jar.  Once it has cooled, apply liberally wherever it hurts.

 

If you don’t want to use an ointment, then how about having a nice hot bath?  You can use nettle, yarrow and pennyroyal dried herbs, or mint, calendula, chamomile, wild marjoram and hops.  I would put them into a muslin cloth, tie it up to keep the herbs in, and then hold them under the hot water running into the bath.  You could also drop the cloth into the bath when the water has been completely run.

muslin cloth

If I have enough muscle movement, I shall type again on Sunday!

How to nix pain naturally…

There is nothing worse than being in pain.  Some people have a high tolerance for it, and some people don’t, but one thing is for sure, if you have it, you are suffering.  I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like reaching for the bottle of aspirin or ibuprofen or paracetamol all the time.  I would prefer to treat as much pain as possible as naturally as I can.  So… I started digging around on the internet and found a wealth of natural pain remedies we can use to make ourselves feel better.

ginger tea

Remember our blog on Monday?  All about Ginger and it is one of remedies for muscle pain.  Ginger contains potent compounds called gingerols which prevent the production of pain triggering hormones.  I think, after a couple of days of painting walls and going to the gym for the first time in a couple of months, I am going to need some!

cloves

There is very little worse for the temper than having a toothache.  How about chewing on some cloves?  They can ease tooth pain and gum inflammation for up to 2 hours if you chew one slowly.  Cloves have a natural compound in them called eugenol which is a powerful and natural anaesthetic so that accounts for it.

apple cider vinegar

If you don’t think Heartburn is painful, then you are either very brave, or you have never had it.  But if you take 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water, before every meal, it will reduce the risk of you getting it in the first place.  Apple Cider Vinegar is rich in malic and tartaric acids which speeds the breakdown of fats and proteins in order for your stomach to empty quickly and hopefully stop the reflux which causes the heartburn.

garlic

Do you suffer with earaches?  Using 2 drops of warmed garlic oil twice daily for 5 days will definitely help.  Garlic has germanium, selenium and sulphur compounds which are naturally toxic to bacteria.  5 days, bye bye infection.  And Vampires.  And possibly friends, because lets face it, garlic can really whiff sometimes.  But, anything is better than the throbbing of earaches, so I would risk it.

cherries

Apparently cherries are amazing for their painkilling properties!  A daily bowl of 20 cherries, be they fresh, dried or frozen can help with arthritis, gout or chronic headaches.  Anthocyanins, which give the cherries their red colour, are 10 times stronger anti-inflammatories than ibuprofen or aspirin.  They work by shutting down the enzymes which kick start tissue inflammation.  This means they can prevent as well as treat pain.  Amazing.  And they taste fabulous too!

oily fish

Suffering with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Indigestion or Inflammatory Bowel Diseases?  Eat 18 ounces of oily fish a week.  Again, it is those amazing fish oils which are doing their stuff again.  And if you are a lady who suffers with Pre Menstrual problems (or someone who lives with one who does!  It is not much fun on either side of that equation!) try snacking on 2 cups of yogurt a day.  The Calcium in it helps the body deal with the ups and downs of estrogen and progesterone which cause the issues.

turmeric

Cases of chronic pain can be tamed with Turmeric.  The active ingredient within it is called Curcumin and it naturally shuts down cyclo-oxygenase2, and enzyme which churns out pain producing hormones.  If you sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon on any rice, poultry, meat or veg dish daily, it should have the required effect.

salt

Do you have foot pain from ingrown toenails?  I do, and it is miserable.  So, I am going to use this tip, and take 1 teaspoon of salt into a cup of water heated as hot as I can bear it and then soak the affected area for 20 minutes, twice daily.  The salt kills the  bacteria causing the infection and therefore the pain, stone dead.

pineapple

Pineapple is great for solving the pain from digestive upsets.  1 cup of fresh pineapple is packed with proteolytic enzymes which speed the breakdown of pain causing proteins in the stomach and small intestine.  I know it used to work for my Father, who had myriad problems with food intolerances and before he died he had several intestinal issues.  He used to have pineapple for breakfast and it did seem to help.

peppermint oil

And finally, for our foray into natural pain relieving ingredients, how about soothing aching muscles using 10 drops of peppermint oil in a warm bath.  If you do this 3 times a week it can ease cramping up to 25% more effectively than using over the counter relaxants.  Also, peppermint oil can help headaches as well.

 

I hope this was an enjoyable post to read, and I hope it will help you find natural alternatives to processed chemical pain relievers.

 

What can Ginger do for you?

In response to my blog post about cinnamon, a friend asked if I could do a post about Ginger.  As I feel about cinnamon, she feels about Ginger, and as I know it is a real herbal superstar, I didn’t need much convincing.

from healthyreader.com

from healthyreader.com

In Indian traditional medicine, called Ayurveda, Ginger is considered to be an essential, a virtual medicine chest in and of itself.  Ginger is used liberally in Indian cuisine, Ginger-infused chai is a household favourite as well as being a great remedy for cold and flu.  Apparently, it is also considered to be an Ayurvedic aphrodisiac, so you have been warned!!

Ginger is great for pepping up your appetite.  This is really good if you are recovering from one of those horrible vomiting and diarrhoea viruses which seem to be flying around at this time of year, and eating a bit of ginger will fire up your digestive juices and get you back to normal.  Ginger is also a traditional remedy for helping with nausea, however it is caused, from travel or pregnancy or viruses.

ginger tea

Ginger can also help decrease flatulence and relieves stomach cramps, and it also helps to clear the micro-circularity channels of the body, including the sinuses.  How many people know someone or indeed are suffering themselves with a sinus infection?  Ginger can also help with throat and nose congestion.  This kind of complaint is EVERYWHERE at the moment, and if Ginger can help, bring it on!!

Ginger is anti-inflammatory in nature, and putting some ginger essential oil in your bath can help soothe joint pain.  These anti-inflammatory properties also can ease some asthma symptoms, it can help migraines, and can assist in reducing blood pressure.  It has been shown to help soothe exercise induced muscle pain as well, and it also improves the absorption and assimilation of essential nutrients in the body.

ginger powder

One of the most exciting things I discovered in my research about Ginger was that apparently, a study has found that exposing ovarian cancer cells to powdered ginger, causes those cells to either die, or to cannibalise one another!  How amazing!

There is a word of warning though.  As with all things, ginger must be taken in moderation.  If you have too much Ginger, it can cause diarrhoea, upset stomach, heartburn and mouth irritation.  Also, if you are taking aspirin or warfarin to thin your blood, don’t have too much ginger.

As always, moderation is the key.