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This is the last in a 3 part series about using foods God created to get well – and stay well.
I am married to a doctor with a prescription pad and a closet full of medication samples. But for the last several years I have been teaching myself basic home remedies so we can handle basic, minor health situations at home on our own. My number one “pharmaceutical” is whole foods – including natural fats, bone stocks, and kefir. For details see almost any post in this blog, but specifically “Staying Well – Prevention.” As I have journeyed down the road of eating only foods that God created, and realizing just how amazing his creation is in terms of keeping us healthy, I have begun to see that God also included many “medications” in his creation as well: foods and herbs that effectively treat and heal us when we are sick. Food is medicine! My goal here is to enlighten you to some of God’s amazing, medicinal foods and hopefully tempt you to begin learning how you too can take charge of your family’s health.
I’ve already written about the wonderful probiotic effects of Kefir, but it deserves mentioning again. Kefir is an incredible tool for good health. Because it boosts and promotes the good bacteria in your gut, it makes your body better able to fight off ugly bugs. Consuming kefir regularly is a great prevention, but it is also a great treatment for gastro-intestinal problems like diarrhea. Making a kefir smoothie out of about 1 cup kefir, one or two frozen bananas, and a squirt of raw honey is an excellent weapon. I can personally testify that this will stop an intestinal bug in its tracks. The kefir is a probiotic, the bananas are good for slowing things down, and the raw honey is a natural anti-viral.
Did you know that berries are a powerhouse of nutrition? They are also great fighters against sickness and disease of all kinds.
Cranberries, already well-known for their effectiveness with urinary tract infections, also have very effective anti-bacterial, antibiotic, and anti-fungal agents. They even have probiotic properties. Cranberries are among the highest antioxidant foods, they prevent kidney stones, are good for cholesterol, provide protection against cancers, and are even better than carrots for your eyesight. Native to the United States, American Indians commonly used cranberries in poultices because they were so effective at stopping bleeding, contracting tissue, and healing infection. Now, science has backed up what they already knew.
Blueberries are cousin to the cranberry and they share many of the same healing properties. But of course consuming these foods in the form of sweetened juices or canned jellies or in any other processed form will not provide you with any of their benefits. These foods need to be eaten in their natural state, the way God created them.
A delicious way to combine the beneficial and medicinal effects of kefir, cranberries, and blueberries is to make a smoothie. In a blender combine 1 cup kefir, one frozen banana, and about one cup of a combination of frozen blueberries and cranberries. Add a good squirt of raw honey (maybe a little extra honey because cranberries are fairly tart), and if you want to further boost the immune-building properties you can drop in a tablespoon of coconut oil.
This delicious and eye-catching shake will help your body fight off many an ugly bug.
Elderberries are another amazing berry that I have been hearing and learning about lately. Elderberries are famous flu-fighters and also help fight colds, coughs, bronchitis, inflammation, and pain. Elderberry can easily be made into a syrup for pancakes or coughs. There are many recipes readily available on the web. Elderberry is also a primary ingredient in many natural cold “medications” at health food stores. One that we keep on hand is called Sambucus. My husband has been taking it daily to help build his immunities during this year’s troublesome flu season.
I have always known about ginger because I have often used powdered ginger in my holiday baking. But it has only been in the last couple of years that I have begun using and enjoying fresh ginger in my cooking and also for treating ailments. Ginger is odd looking and most people think it is a root but really it is a rhizome. Regardless of what you call it, ginger is amazing and powerful.
Ginger is probably most famous for its effectiveness against motion sickness and the nausea, vomiting, and dizziness that accompany it. Studies have proven that ginger is even more effective than Dramamine. Is this any surprise? God created ginger, man invented Dramamine. Even better, ginger is safe to use during pregnancy when nausea can be debilitating. But that’s not all that ginger does. It is a proven anti-inflammatory: it reduces the pain associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis as well as increases the mobility of people afflicted with these conditions. Ginger also protects against E Coli and Staph, and is effective against colds and flu because it is very warming and promotes a healthy sweat. But ginger also inhibits the growth of colo****** (homesteadblogger is blocking out that word that begins with R and ends with L and has "ecta" in between) cancer cells and even kills ovarian cancer cells. Quite an amazing creation, isn’t it?
Personally, I have effectively used ginger powder in tepid baths to lower fever, and I have effectively used fresh ginger to fight colds and nausea.
A very delicious way to use ginger is by making Ginger Tea, using fresh ginger, fresh lemon, and raw honey.
Start by boiling 2 cups of water. Finely mince a 2” piece of ginger.
When the water is boiling, add the ginger and let it sit for about 10 minutes –covered – at barely a simmer. Then add a couple tablespoons of raw honey and the juice of half a lemon. Stir. Then pour into a teacup through a strainer, sit back, and let the healing begin.
Garlic is yet another creation that does all kinds of amazing things. Besides adding great flavor to your meals, garlic is a potent medicine. All of mankind has made use of garlic’s medicinal properties, ever since the ancient Egyptians. Garlic is high in nutrition – manganese, vitamin C, vitamin B6, calcium, selenium, and more – but it is also a proven anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral. Garlic helps prevent asthma attacks, lessens the pain of arthritis, and is very effective against colds and flu. It is also effective against stomach viruses, Candida yeast, and even pathogenic microbes such as tuberculosis and botulism. In fact, garlic is potent against drug resistant bacteria such as MRSA and is even showing promise in treating skin cancers. Garlic is already proven to decrease the risk of other common cancers, especially when it is combined with onions as a staple in the diet.
The best way to use garlic is raw, gently crushing the clove to release its benefits. Let it sit for a few minutes to “activate” it. You can lightly cook garlic for up to 10 minutes before you kill off the healthful agents. However, microwaving garlic kills everything immediately.
Time and again I have effectively used garlic to prevent colds. I do this by squirting raw honey into a spoon,
then mincing a SMALL clove of garlic into the honey,
and covering it completely with more honey.
Then I quickly, very quickly, swallow the whole thing in one big swallow and immediately chase it down with a full glass of water. I never do this on an empty stomach, and I never use a big clove of garlic. Garlic is potent and too much can cause nausea and vomiting. Often just one dose will do ya. But on rare occasions I will have to do this twice a day. This is an extremely effective home remedy, but it is definitely not for the faint of heart!
I also like to sprinkle raw, finely chopped garlic on a pizza fresh from the oven. Another way to get raw garlic is to mince some into soft butter and mix well for garlic butter. Garlic can also be infused into olive oil which can then be used as ear drops to treat ear infections, or rubbed onto the soles of your feet so that it will soak into your skin and find its way into your bloodstream. You can also place a small clove into your ear when fighting an ear infection. To learn more about how to use garlic in these ways, visit www.nogreaterjoy.org and type “garlic” in the search box.
Time and again on this blog I have talked about the healing powers of properly prepared chicken stock. It is the perfect food for the sick because it is loaded with nutrition and extremely easy to digest. It nourishes your body without you having to work for it. When someone is sick with a cold, I will make them a soup that is mostly stock, and I will add some chopped garlic and ginger at the very end for more nutrition and medicinal properties. Eating soups of all kinds made with properly prepared chicken stock immediately makes me feel revived and nourished, whether I am under the weather or not. Whenever my littlest one has the sniffles, she gets a little mug of plain stock every morning.
Of course, it always helps to have Pooh peek at you from the bottom of the cup.
God made an abundance of beautiful plants that are specifically designed to treat and heal what ails us. Herbs can do everything that modern medicine can, but without the nasty side-effects. And nothing is ever “herb-resistant”, so herbs never lose their healing power.
I have done a little “dabbling” with herbs but I am not confident enough yet to share any of that with you. In the past I have made an effective tincture using Echinacea that helped fight colds; I have made an effective bug spray using an herbal mix, garlic, and vinegar; I have used herbs effectively to strengthen, nourish, and add shine to my hair. Most often I make herbal teas for various ailments. I discovered that peppermint is great for getting rid of headaches in addition to calming a rumbly stomach. All of this I read about in books, then tried out on my own.
Along the way I have acquired several books about herbal medicine, and have discovered some fabulous websites with reliable information. You should check them out and see what you can learn that will help you and your family:
Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Remedies for Children’s Health
The ABC Herbal by Steven H. Horne
The How To Herb Book by Velma J. Keith and Monteen Gordon
Practical Herbalism by Phil Fritchey
Mommy Diagnostics –and- The Naturally Healthy Pregnancy both by Shonda Parker
Making Herbs SIMPLE a dvd available at www.bulkherbstore.com
Some of these websites offer free newsletters and simple online courses. Some offer over-the-phone counseling. Others offer real herbal and natural health courses that you take at your own pace. My hubby just signed me up for one with Vintage Remedies and I am looking forward to learning valuable information about God’s creation that I can use to nurture my family.
One thing that is really cool about herbs is that once you know what to look for, you can just go out into your yard or the woods and gather the herbs you need. I’m pretty sure God planned and designed it that way. He isn’t out to make money selling a product – he just loves you and is always there to provide for your every need. You can turn the herbs that you’ve gathered into whatever it is you need, whether it is a salve, a poultice, a tincture, a tea, a lotion, whatever. Or you can just eat them fresh in a salad. I haven’t quite reached that point yet, but I have learned to identify a few things on my own. And I have a great book that explains how to make all these cool things: Practical Herbalism by Phil Fritchey.
If making your own herbal medicines is not your cup of tea, there are plenty of good quality herbal medicines available ready-made. For the past couple of years we have been using TriLight Herbs to help prevent and treat colds. They are more effective than conventional medicine, yet without the yucky dyes, preservatives, and risks.
There is truly no end to the information I could type into this post so I will stop here. I haven’t even gotten to tell you about cinnamon, or how to use honey and lemon as a cough syrup, or how a backyard weed like plantain can heal bee stings. But all of this information, and more, is available on the web and in books. You just have to read them to find out. That’s what I did.
I hope you are beginning to see and understand that God has provided for your every need – spiritually AND physically. There is a whole world of good health just knocking at your door. The question is, will you open it?