Kitchen Medicine by Kat Morgenstern.
Introduced by Ivor Hughes.

Kat was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1964. She is a grassroots Herbalist and Ethno botanist with a passion for nature and the well-being of Mother Earth. For the past 20 years she has been deeply involved in the study of plants, the healing arts and related topics. Her path has led her to study and travel extensively throughout Europe, the US, as well as Central and South America. Seven years ago she set up Sacred Earth, an Internet based forum for Ethnobotany and Eco-travel.

Kat's vision of the plant/human relationship is profoundly holistic, spiritual and 'deep green' in nature. She believes that fostering respectful and engaging interactions between people and plants is a practical way of bridging the rift between 'culture' and 'nature' and provides a positive step towards healing both, people and planet.

Kat presently resides Berlin where she is working as a freelance writer and Ethno botanist, studying the traditional uses of local plants and working on several book projects. Over the past decade she has written numerous articles and educational materials on various aspects of Herbs and Healing, Ethno botany and Eco-psychology for various herbal companies (e.g. Star Child, UK) and magazines (e.g. Herb Quarterly, US) while continuously expanding her repertoire at the Sacred Earth website and other on-line Ezines and off-line Magazines. Her latest project is the Sacred Earth Newsletter, which is published every six weeks, and is circulated via email and published at the Sacred Earth website. at  to get a fuller insight into Kat's work and philosophy. The Sacred Earth Newsletter can be viewed at:

Kitchen Medicine by Kat Morgenstern.

This little reference is not intended as medical advice to be followed in lieu of professional medical care. It is by no means exhaustive, but is rather intended as a short introduction and overview. Before using any herbs for the treatment of medical conditions it is important to familiarize yourself
with the suggested herbs or substances and study the condition as thoroughly as possible. If symptoms persist seek professional medical advice.

Kitchen Medicine
'Let your foods be medicines and your medicines be food' - the old aphorism first coined by Hippocrates is coming back into vogue. In an age where medicine has become a multi-billion dollar industry and the market is flooded with thousands of ever new permutations of various synthetic compounds that make it impossible to keep track, it may well be a good idea to simplify matters a bit. Even the natural remedy department is seeing an explosion of ever more pills and extracts which will do little but confuse the average consumer. Nobody knows what's what anymore. Confronted with conflicting messages and a glut of magic pills the task of sorting the wheat from the chaff is not an easy one. Thus, it is essential to start with the basics and to educate oneself about health and nutrition.

The word health derives from the Anglo-Saxon root 'hal' meaning 'whole'. Health is a state of wholeness, of balance and harmony between mind, body and soul. Disharmony and imbalance manifests as dis-ease. Thus, the first principle of healing is to restore balance. The three main factors responsible for that balance are: proper nutrition, exercise and relaxation. I won't elaborate too much on exercise and relaxation at this point, but will concentrate instead on nutrition.

The average convenience diet barely contains enough nutrients to keep the system running, much less to keep it healthy. Refined carbohydrates, sugars and fats are the main ingredients, supplemented with gene manipulated, processed vegetables and meats, often with artificial flavors and preservatives added to the chemical concoction. Is it really that surprising that so many people suffer from degenerative diseases, allergies, food sensitivities, cancers and immune system deficiencies? To compensate the lack of nutrients in the normal diet many people are now on an expensive regime of vitamin and mineral supplements. Vitamins and minerals are extremely important to keep the body healthy and in general all essential nutrients can and should be obtained from a wholesome, well balanced diet. However, deficiencies can result in various ailments as shown in the chart below.






Vitamin A
and Beta Carotene
(fat soluble)

Growth, vision, healthy tissue, skin, hair, resistance to infection.

Night blindness, itching, dry skin, loss of sense of taste.

milk, butter, eggs, liver, leafy green and yellow vegetables.

Vitamin D
(fat soluble)

Bones, teeth, optimum calcium-phosphorus metabolism.

Soft bones and teeth, spontaneous fractures, bone curvature.

milk, cod liver oil, tuna, salmon oil, eggs.

Vitamin E
(fat soluble)

Antioxidant. Protects cell membrane and tissues. Maintains circulatory system.

Poor muscular and circulatory performance.

vegetable oil, grains, wheat germ, lettuce.

Vitamin F
(Unsaturated Fatty Acids)
(fat soluble)

Influences skin, blood coagulation, cholesterol, glandular activity.

Acne, allergies, dry skin, brittle hair, eczema, brittle nails.

Vegetable oils, sunflower seeds

Vitamin K
(fat soluble)

Blood clotting (coagulation).

Diarrhea, increased tendency to hemorrhage

Green leafy vegetables, molasses, yogurt, alfalfa






Vitamin B1
(water soluble)

Heart and cardiovascular system, growth, nervous system, energy production, digestion.

Fatigue, poor appetite, pins and needles in legs, depression.

cereals, fish, lean meat, liver, poultry, milk, pork.

Vitamin B2
(water soluble)

Healthy skin. Tissue repair. Antibody and red blood cell formation.

Cracks at mouth corners, sore tongue, light sensitive eyes.

cereals, yeast, milk, eggs, leafy green vegetables, lean meat.

Vitamin B3
(Niacin or Niacinamide)
(water soluble)

Healthy skin, nervous system, cell metabolism

Weakness, skin rash, memory loss, irritability,


cereals, yeast, lean meat, liver, eggs.

Vitamin B5
(Panotothenic Acid)
(water soluble)

Helps convert proteins, carbohydrates, fats into energy. Immune system

Weakness, depression, decreased resistance to infection.

most plants and animal food

Vitamin B6
(water soluble)

Healthy red blood cells, gums, teeth, blood vessels, nervous system.

Fatigue, anemia, nerve dysfunction, irritability.

cereals, wheat germ, yeast, meat, bananas, vegetables.

Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin)
(water soluble)

Development of red blood cells, growth, nervous system maintenance.

Anemia, weakness, fatigue, red-sore tongue, nerve degeneration.

fish, lean meat, liver, milk.

Folic Acid
(Folacin, Folate)
(water soluble)

Production red blood cells, tissue cells. Normal growth. Healthy intestinal tract.

Anemia, intestinal problems, pale tongue

yeast, leafy green vegetables, meats.


Nerve transmission. Regulates liver and gall bladder. Cell membrane structure.

Growth problems, impaired liver and kidney function.

Yeast, eggs, fish, lecithin, wheat germ, organ meats, soy.


Fat and cholesterol metabolism. Nerve function.

Hair loss, constipation, eye abnormalities, high cholesterol.

Molasses, yeast, lecithin, fruits, meat, milk, nuts.

Para-Amino Benzoic Acid

Blood cell formation, pigmentation of skin and may help restore color to gray hair.

Constipation, depression, fatigue headaches, irritability.

Molasses, eggs, liver, milk, rice, yeast, wheat germ, bran.

Vitamin C
(Ascorbic Acid)

Wound healing, immune system. Maintenance of healthy gums, skin, blood.

Bruise easily, wound healing, tooth/gum defects, aching joints.

citrus fruits, berries, cabbage, vegetables, tomatoes.

Vitamin H

Skin, circulatory system. Metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, fats.

Non-specific skin rash

egg yolk, green leafy

vegetables, milk, liver, kidneys.

Vitamin P

Blood vessel wall maintenance, healthy capillaries and veins.

Bleeding gums, colds, eczema.

Skin and pulp of fruits, especially citrus fruits.







Bone and tooth development and maintenance. Muscle contraction, nerve transmission.

Heart palpitations, muscle cramps, tooth/ bone weakening.

milk, cheese, green



Carbohydrate metabolism, energy production and optimum utilization of glucose.

Poor glucose tolerance. Low blood sugar levels.

yeast, whole grains, vegetable oils.


Enzyme function. Hemoglobin production.

Anemia, fatigue, weakness, bone fragility.

nuts, seeds, meats, raisins.


Production of thyroid hormone. Regulates metabolism.

Enlarged thyroid gland in neck.

seafood, kelp, iodized salt.


Transport of oxygen to tissues. Enzyme functions.

Fatigue, weakness from anemia, brittle fingernails.

whole grain cereals, nuts, green vegetables.


Enzyme activity. Health of heart arteries. Protein production. Nerve function.

Growth failure, leg cramps, nervousness, confusion, easily angered.

whole grains, seafood,

green vegetables.


Enzyme activity in reproduction, growth, fat metabolism.

Poor growth, reproductive and coordination abnormalities.

whole grains, eggs, nuts, green vegetables.


Bone/tooth formation, muscle contraction, kidney function, nerve and muscle activity.

Continuous thirst, dry skin, general weakness, weak reflexes.

eggs, fish, meat, poultry, grains, cheese.


pH balance of blood, body-water balance, nerve and muscle function.

Irregular heartbeat muscular weakness. Build-up of lactic acid.

dates, raisins, figs, peaches, sunflower seeds.


Antioxidant (with vitamin E). Protects cell membrane and internal structures.

Anemia, heart muscle enlargement, irregular beat.

whole grains, seafood, eggs, meat, brown rice.


Wound healing, reproductive organ development and growth. Male hormone production.

Loss of sense of taste, poor growth and wound healing. Immune system enhancement

yeast, whole grains, liver, sunflower seeds.

(Note: This guide is not intended as a tool for diagnostic or prescriptive purposes. For any treatment or diagnosis of illness, please see your medical practitioner.)

A balanced diet should supply all necessary vitamins and minerals, preferably obtained from natural, organic sources. Certain conditions can deplete vitamin and mineral levels in the body and it may become necessary to boost them with nutritional supplements. (For detailed advice on this subject see Earl Mindells 'The Vitamin Bible and 'The Mineral Bible'.) However, unfortunately vitamin pills don't always live up to what they promise. If at all possible fresh pressed juices are the best way of obtaining nutrients from organic sources, facilitating easy absorption for the body).

Many foods and vegetables provide far more than essential nutrients, though. In fact, most can be used directly as healing agents. The distinction between staple foods, vegetables, spices, herbs and drugs are often rather arbitrary. Lets take a closer look at this scale of distinction:

Grains, (such as oats, barley, wheat and rice) and starchy root vegetables (such as potatoes, yams or cassavas) are sometimes called 'the staff of life'. They should form the basis of a balanced diet, as they supply not only energy in the form of complex carbohydrates but also contain a large range of nutrients. They are rich in fiber, too, which is especially important for maintaining a healthy digestive system, vital for the process of eliminating toxins and keeping cholesterol levels low.

Then there are the vegetables. Some of these are root vegetables, such as carrots and parsnips, others are leafy, such as spinach or cabbage. They supplement the staple foods and ensure a balanced intake of a wide range of nutrients. However, one should not let them dominate the diet completely, as too much of a good thing can be just too much: Fat soluble vitamins are stored in the body and can be damaging if built up to excessive amounts. Too much asparagus can damage the kidneys and too much spinach leeches the calcium from teeth and bones.

Next on the scale are the spices, which not only add flavor to a good meal, but also subtly insure that it can be digested comfortably. Most herbs commonly used in the kitchen are rich in volatile oils and thus stimulate the digestive juices. Their action is carminative and soothing. Additionally, many, kill worms and bacteria in the intestinal tract or add nutrients to the diet. In fact, most commonly used kitchen herbs are very useful medicinal herbs.

At the very far end of the scale, beyond these simple herbs and spices are the medicinal herbs, which don't usually feature in the diet at all, but are generally only used as medicines. Most of these tend to have a tonic and restorative effect on the body. They are not fast acting magic bullets, but over time restore the bodily balance by toning the entire system. Beyond these are the toxic herbs, which, depending on the dosage, can either heal or harm. These are the plants that tend to be favored by the pharmaceutical industry as potential sources for their drugs, as they usually depend on one or more very definitive 'active principles', which can be isolated and synthesized with relative ease. In contrast to the gentler herbs, which act as toning restoratives, they tend to provoke a strong re-action from the body in response to the biochemical assault. Only experienced herbalists should attempt to use strong and potentially dangerous herbs in their practice. When such plant drugs are isolated and synthesized into chemical medicines the effect tends to become even stronger and oftentimes downright toxic as the herbs natural buffer substances (thought to be 'inactive waste materials) are eliminated from the formula.

When faced with a subject as vast as herbal medicine, the number of different remedies available can be quite overwhelming. Thus, the simplest strategy is to start with herbs and spices that one is already well familiar with. There are dozens of simple home remedies that over time have proven to be extremely effective and safe, although they have almost slipped into the realm of 'old wife's tales' and are forgotten by the general public, who tends to prefer the convenience of 'modern' processed chemical medicines, herbal pills or tinctures. This trend is supported by the ferocious advertising campaigns of the herb (and drug) companies, who find it more profitable to hype exotic, (thus expensive) and processed herbal remedies.

The truth is, that one rarely has to look beyond one's own kitchen garden and spice cupboard to find all the remedies anybody could need to treat most common ailments. For more complicated conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, kidney disease and any other potentially life-threatening diseases one should never attempt to be one's own doctor, but rather find a practitioner who is open towards integrating herbal remedies and nutritional therapies into his/her overall approach.

Grains - Poaceae
(Hordeum vulgare)
Barley gruel is an excellent nutritional food for throat and stomach problems. Cooked with milk this gruel promotes lactation in nursing mothers. Externally, Barley flour simmered in milk makes a cooling plaster for inflamed skin sores and ulcers. Barley flour and barley bran mixed with vinegar and butter, briefly brought to the boil, makes an old home remedy (plaster) for sprained muscles and general muscle stiffness, rheumatism and skin afflictions. Even Barley beer has some healing virtues: it stimulates the appetite and increases the secretion of digestive juices, thus making fatty foods more digestible and easing heartburn. Warm beer is demulcent and diuretic, which can be beneficial for urinary complaints.

Oats (Avena sativa)
Oats are very strengthening and nutritious. They make excellent food for convalescence, especially in cases of stomach and intestinal afflictions, such as ulcers and inflammation. Oats also act beneficially on the gallbladder and can thus be recommended for hepatitis as well as for diarrhea or constipation. Oat bran is an excellent digestive aid and inner cleansing agent. It not just promotes bowel action, but also binds and eliminates endotoxins. Even Oatstraw has healing properties. Oat straw tea strengthens the nerves and is beneficial for the urinary system and the liver. It can be used to treat urinary weakness as well as bladder and kidney catarrh/inflammation. It is also beneficial in cases of respiratory catarrh, cough and whooping cough. Externally, this tea can be used as a healing bath additive for bladder, kidney, and liver complaints as well as for gout and rheumatism. It is also recommended as a footbath for poor circulation and permanently cold feet. Oats are extremely nutritious and contain many essential amino acids. Anyone would benefit from replacing their bowl of sugary corn flakes with a bowl of oats and fruits (avoid granola though), but even if one doesn't make it a part of the regular diet, it should definitely rank as the number one food item during sickness and convalescence (plain porridge).

Wheat (Triticum sativum)
Pure, unadulterated wheat starch is a great drying and soothing powder for weeping skin rashes and inflamed sores (poison ivy!). Stirred into a thick 'glue' it makes an effective remedy for children's diarrhea. Wheatgerm is particularly healthy. It is rich in Vitamin E and has many essential amino acids, oils, vitamins and minerals. People suffering from any kind of debilitating conditions, weak nerves or circulatory problems, digestive problems, blood impurities and impure skin would be well advised to add a regular dose of this superfood to their diet. Wheat bran is also recommendable. Many people use it as a cleansing agent for lazy bowels or to create a sense of fullness when dieting, but for internal use one shouldn't overdo it. Wheat bran is water insoluble and thus does not bind endotoxins. It adds bulk, but the sharp edges of coarse bran in particular can irritate the intestinal lining. Nutritionally it adds very little to the diet. Externally however it as an old remedy for rheumatism, gout and certain skin problems. A muslin bag filled with bran is added to the bath water to create this healing effect. Blackheads and pimples can be treated by applying a mixture of thin, runny honey and bran as a plaster/ face mask. After a few minutes the mixture is washed off with warm water and the spots can be squeezed out.

(Allium cepa)
Onion and garlic are similar in their action, though onion tends to be the gentler of the two. They stimulate mucus secretion and act strongly anti-putrefactive. They stimulate the heart and circulation and act diaphoretic, diuretic and expectorant. An effective cough remedy can be made by cutting up an onion and covering it in sugar. Leave covered overnight and use the resulting liquid as a cough syrup. For ear infection, heat a slice of onion and apply it to the ear. Onion juice stimulates the kidneys and helps to dissolve small kidney stones. However, in cases of inflamed or diseased kidneys onion should not be used as they can be too irritating.

Garlic (Allium sativum)
One of my favorite herbs. Garlic doesn't just add great flavor to any meal but is also a wonderful home remedy whenever an antiseptic/antibiotic is needed. Naturally, its action is most beneficial when eaten raw. There are several ways of making this quite a palatable experience. A great way to enjoy raw garlic is to mix it with honey and lemon juice as a dressing for avocados, or as is, as a syrup. Some also like eating garlic and apple together, a most healthful combination. A soup consisting of lots of garlic, onion and strong chilies is one of the best remedies to ward off threatening colds. This should be eaten at the first signs of weakness. Garlic reduces cholesterol levels, is beneficial for the heart and blood circulation as it lowers the blood pressure (vasodilator) and inhibits arteriosclerosis. It is full of vitamins and acts strongly antiseptic. It kills worms (enema) and disinfects most foods (great precaution when traveling in countries where one can't be sure of food safety - always add a little garlic, chili and lemon juice). It also stimulates the liver and gallbladder. Garlic acts diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, stimulating and disinfecting. Cooked in milk it is a great expectorant remedy for the lungs and garlic juice used to be used as a remedy for tuberculosis. Steeped in Olive oil it makes a good application for ear aches. For severe cases, a heated clove of garlic (lightly toasted) can be applied directly to the ear, perhaps wrapping it in a thin layer of gauze to avoid a skin reaction. Due to the strong nature of this remedy its use should be closely monitored. In sensitive individuals too much raw garlic can cause internal or external skin irritation.

Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)
Asparagus stimulates the kidneys and increases urinary secretion. This can be beneficial as part of a cleansing diet for rheumatism, gout or certain skin problems. It is also employed for treating bladder problems, though too much asparagus irritates the kidneys.

Cabbage family (Brassicacae)
(Nasturtium amphibium)
This humble herb should be added generously to the salad plate. Watercress is full of vitamins and minerals. Old herbals consider it as a blood cleanser. This is due to its diuretic action and beneficial effect on the digestive system, gallbladder and liver. Externally it can be applied to badly healing ulcers and wounds. Use with care during pregnancy. Excessive use can irritate the kidneys.

Cabbage (Brassica oleracea capita)
The humble cabbage is another magical healing plant, which, thanks to its high vitamin C content has saved numerous lives back in the days of long sea journeys. Sauerkraut and cabbage are also great detoxifying inner cleansing agents. Fresh cabbage juice, (5x a day for 2 weeks) is a wonderful remedy for stomach ulcers. Bruised or cut up cabbage leaves applied as a plaster draws pus and infection from rashes, sores and boils. Hot cabbage leaves applied to muscle aches, neuralgia, and rheumatism soothes the pain. Cabbage leaves applied to the chest as a pulmonary plaster is beneficial for bronchial infections.

Horseradish (Amoracia rusticana/ Cochlearia armoracia)
This often cursed herb, which in some areas grows abundantly as a weed, is used as a much loved condiment in many parts of Germany, where it is served along with fatty meats and beers. Horseradish helps to digest this kind of hearty diet. However, it is not just a useful condiment that stimulates the digestive juices, liver and gallbladder, but also has a number of useful healing properties that can be employed both externally and internally. Applied as a plaster (ground fine) to aching muscles, gout and rheumatic joints, neuralgic pain, sciatica or even paralyzed limbs will help to stimulate the circulation to these parts and act as a rubefacient. For a simpler method of application one can prepare a simple tincture by adding horseradish to 40 proof brandy or vodka. This liquid is also said to cleanse the skin from freckles and blemishes. Applied to the forehead it can prevent migraine attacks. Mixed with a little lemon juice it is supposed to halt an asthma attack - though this remedy is not for a weak stomach.

Horseradish is diuretic and is used as an old home remedy for oedema. For this purpose a handful of ground horseradish is added to a pint of ale and sweetened with sugar - not for a weak stomach either. Steeped in wine and taken in teaspoonful doses it acts anti-catarrhal on the respiratory and digestive system. It is a great internal cleanser that supports and stimulates the circulation, digestive system, and metabolism. However, when using horseradish internally for medicinal purposes it is advisable to start with small quantities and monitor the effects closely. Too much of this remedy can be rough on the kidneys and urinary system.

Kidney Bean
(Phaseolus vulgaris)
Dried bean pods are an incredibly effective diuretic agent. Prepared as a decoction they can be used to treat oedema that is due to heart or kidney trouble (simmer 2-3 handful in enough water so that after about 3 - 4 hours 1/2 - 3/4 of a liter remain). Usually it takes no more than 24h , or at the most 3 days before a strong diuretic effect occurs. This tea is recommended for kidney disease or inflammation as well as any other conditions of the urinary system including kidney/ bladder stones. (Don't attempt using this remedy without consultation with a qualified herbalist though. Kidney stones can be very sharp and unless they are sufficiently dissolved may be extremely painful to pass). Bean pods have an inhibitory effect on uric acid formation and can dissolve any crystalline deposits like no other remedy. A tea can also be prepared by infusing a tablespoon of dried pods in a cup of cold water for 8 hours and then simmering the infusion for a few minutes. This tea is recommended for mild diabetes, gout and rheumatism. (tablespoon doses throughout the day). Bruised kidney beans boiled with garlic are said to cure stubborn coughs. The fresh raw beans and the roots are toxic.

(Daucus carota)
The common carrot is one of the best sources for vitamin A, and also contains a host of other vitamins. It acts antiseptic and anti-putrefactive and has been used as a blood cleanser and to stimulate the metabolism. Carrot juice is an excellent remedy for excessive stomach acid and heartburn, and also cleanses the intestinal tract. Carrots even combat intestinal worms. They are a wonderfully vitalizing, helping to boost the immune system, especially for children. Carrot juice is also beneficial for rheumatism and arthritis and even acts positively on the sugar metabolism of diabetics. Externally, ground carrots can be applied to bruises, burns and sores. The seeds are an emmanogogue and should be avoided during pregnancy.

Celery (Apium graveolens)
This common vegetable is an excellent diuretic. The fresh juice is very beneficial for suppressed urination, oedema, rheumatism, gout and cellulite. However, it should not be used in cases of kidney inflammation, as its diuretic effect may be too irritating. It is recommended for a weak stomach, lack of appetite, wind etc. In Germany, the celery root stock rather than the sticks are more commonly used. The water in which celery root has been boiled is useful as a wash for treating dandruff. The juice boiled to a syrupy consistency with sugar makes an excellent cough remedy. The seeds are emmanogogue and should be avoided during pregnancy.

(Cucumis sativus)
This is more of a cosmetic plant than a healer, although the cucumber also has medicinal properties: it acts on the water balance, is diuretic and loosens kidney stones. It is useful in cases of edema and cellulite. It also stimulates lazy intestines. For cosmetic purposes, it is one of the best moisturizing agents. The juice is refreshing, tonic, cleansing and soothing, especially on sunburned, or tired skin.

Pumpkin (Curcurbita pepo)
This vegetable is rich in vitamin B. For medicinal purposes only the raw fruit flesh is used. Mashed to a paste it makes an excellent application for sore feet, inflamed ulcers, sores and varicose veins. When added raw to salad it makes an excellent blood cleansing food, which is especially recommendable for cases of kidney inflammation. Pumpkin seeds are one of the most effective and non-toxic worming agents. Pumpkin seeds are also rich in Zinc and as such are particularly beneficial for bladder and prostate problems.

(Capsicum annum)
Not everybody can stomach this healthy spice and many believe its hot taste to be harmful. This is not the case. Chili peppers are very rich in Vitamin C and are excellent for spicing up teas for flues, colds and coughs. They act anti-catarrhal, decongestant and antiseptic and stimulate the circulation. However, a sensitive stomach might react strongly to too much of this herb and long term use can irritate the intestinal lining. Externally, mixed with alcohol or oil it makes an excellent rubefacient for painful muscles and joints, sprains, neuralgia and rheumatism. Cayenne pepper (powder) makes a good styptic (it doesn't burn).

Potato (Solanum tuberosum)
Even the humble potato has some medicinal virtues. Externally, applications of sliced potatoes are anti-inflammatory. Raw, mashed potatoes can be applied to cankerous growths and sores. As a food they are extremely nutritious. If possible use organic potatoes and don't peel them prior to cooking as this leeches out much of their nutrients. Potatoes are rich in vitamin C. A temporary potato diet, consisting of little more than mashed potatoes (without salt) are indicated for diabetics and also for stomach problems associated with intestinal cramps and constipation.

Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)
Tomatoes stimulate the digestive juices and are beneficial for stomach ulcers and liver complaints. They also act positively on oedema, neuritis and circulation complaints, especially with regard to the peripheral blood vessels. Externally fresh tomato juice can be applied to wounds in order to prevent infection and pus formation and to take the heat out of inflammation. A piece of useful trivia: tomato juice neutralizes the stench of skunks.

(Vaccinium myrtillus)
Blueberries are very cleansing for the digestive tract. Dried berries simmered with Cinnamon and Cloves make a good remedy for diarrhea. Blueberry wine with Cinnamon and Cloves make a wonderful, tasty strengthening and warming stomach remedy that can be used for all kinds of intestinal and digestive troubles. Blueberry wine absorbs and eliminates endotoxins without disturbing the intestinal flora. Fresh blueberry juice makes an excellent gargle for throat infections and good mouthwash for periodontal disease. Tea made from the leaves is said to be a useful aid for treating hair loss when massaged into the scalp regularly. Studies on bilberries and blueberries indicate anti-tumor activity and free radical inhibition. Concentrated extracts are used to strengthen capillaries and increase micro-circulation to small blood vessels, which has been utilized as a treatment of retinal degradation caused by diabetes. Blueberry leaves have long been indicated as a folk remedy for diabetes. Some herbals recommend Bilberry leaves for various conditions, however, internal long term use of the leaves should be avoided unless monitored by a competent herbalist. (Blueberry wine = blueberries steeped in wine for a period of time, usually 4-6weeks)

Cranberry (Vaccinium vitis idaea)
Cranberries are astringent and can be used for inner bleeding (stomach/lung). The fruits are used in various preparations for coughs, colds and feverish infections. The juice is refreshing and vitalizing and is recommended for cases of mental and physical exhaustion. For bronchial catarrh one can simmer leaves and berries with honey to make an effective decongestant and anti-catarrhal remedy. The leaves are used similarly to the closely related bearberry (Uva ursi) for kidney and bladder complaints, such as kidney infections, stones, bladder cramp, urethritis, suppressed urination etc..

Apples (Fructus malus)
The common apple is a true miracle fruit. The fresh fruit, apple flower tea, apple peel tea, apple cider vinegar and apple wine are all used medicinally in various preparations. Raw apple peel increases the elimination of uric acid (use organic apples). An apple at night time is said to bring tranquil, soothing sleep. Apples act on the brain, liver and intestines. Apple therapy is indicated for gout, excessive blood flow to the head (migraines), constipation, hemorrhoids, kidney and bladder complaints. Apple cider vinegar and apple wine are especially recommended for kidney and bladder stones, skin rashes, gout and rheumatism. Apple juice is good for counteracting colds, especially when accompanied by cough, hoarseness, bronchial catarrh, fever and inflammation. Apples are most useful for gouty and rheumatic complaints including rheumatic kidney and liver complaints, as well as for arteriosclerosis and eczema. Apple flower tea is indicated for cough and colds. Apples are also soothing on the nerves. Apple cider vinegar is one of the most remarkable home remedies. Taken regularly diluted with water (can be sweetened with honey) it has a long standing reputation for use as a an anti-rheumatism remedy. Due to its high calcium content it helps to improve memory and concentration, muscle strength, circulatory problems, badly healing wounds, itchy skin, joint pains and lack of appetite. It is also indicated for arthritis, sinus catarrh, high blood pressure, migraine, chronic tiredness and night-sweats.

Lemon (Citrus medica)
Rich in Vitamin C, Lemon is an old standby remedy for colds and flues. It is decongestant, anti-inflammatory and generally boosts the immune system. Nose irrigation with lemon juice cures nasal catarrh and runny noses (allergies). As a gargle the juice is used to treat sore throats and hoarseness. Lemon juice stimulates digestion. As a diuretic it can be useful for cellulite and rheumatism.

Figs (Ficus carica)
Dried figs soaked in water or milk is a great laxative remedy. The liquid also has demulcent and decongestive actions, which can be used to treat coughs and catarrh as well.

Herbs & Spices
(Rosmarinus officinalis)
This herb is a great restorative. In times of excessive exertion or mental and physical stress it is a great pick me up. Rosemary increases local blood supply, especially to the head and peripheral nerves, which means more oxygen and nutrients. The aromatic and bitter principles act beneficially on the stomach and liver. Rosemary tea is useful for treating nerve pain, headaches and dizziness. It is an old favorite remedy for enhancing memory (before Gingko biloba came along). As a bath additive Rosemary tea is especially restorative and stimulating. This tea should not be used internally during pregnancy.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Thyme tea is the best remedy a for dry, tickly cough, bronchitis and lung catarrh. It is anti-spasmodic and soothing for whooping cough and asthma as well. The tincture of thyme makes a good rub for arthritis and rheumatism, neuralgia and nervous depletion. It also acts very beneficially on the digestive system and liver. It is anti-putrefactive, anti-septic and anthelmintic and can be used to treat intestinal worm infections.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Sage is an excellent astringent. It makes the best astringent and antiseptic gargle and mouthwash for sore throats and periodontal inflammations. It is a good supportive herb when dealing with flues, coughs and colds. Likewise it can also be used as a wash for ulcers and infected wounds. Internally it can be used for diarrhea and intestinal catarrh. It contains certain bitter principles that make it useful as an appetite stimulant and digestive aid, especially for fatty foods. It has been recommended for night sweats and hot-flushes, especially in connection with the menopause. However, the dose here determines the effect: weak sage tea is diaphoretic (stimulating sweat), while strong sage tea is anti-diaphoretic. This tea should not be used internally during pregnancy.

Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
A well known kitchen herb used for making pesto and flavoring tomato dishes. Medicinally it can be used to treat wind and poor digestion as well as bladder and kidney complaints. It is also useful for stomach cramps and gallbladder problems. An infusion of the seeds (infuse a table spoonful of seeds with a 1/4 liter of boiled but cooled down water) is a cooling beverage for feverish conditions and for kidney and urinary problems. Externally it can be used as a wound wash and as a gargle for periodontal problems.

Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
This tea should be enjoyed in small quantities as it stimulates the circulation and can raise the blood pressure. Simmered in wine it is a diuretic and can be used for oedema and urinary complaints. As a bath additive it makes a good restorative nerve tonic. The volatile aromatic oils and bitter principles have a positive effect on the digestive system, liver and gall-bladder. Sweetened with honey it makes a good expectorant tea. The essential oil of marjoram, diluted in a base oil such as almond oil, can be used as a massage oil for painful joints and muscles, rheumatism and arthritis. Its warming action is also beneficial for chilblains and insufficient circulation to the extremities.

Lovage (Levisticum officinale)
The root decoction is used for catarrhal conditions of the digestive and the respiratory system. It aids digestion, stimulates the appetite and can also be used for wind and colicky conditions. It is recommended for edema associated with heart problems. It is a liver tonic and helps in cases of temporary toxicity associated with alcohol and nicotine abuse. Externally the decoction can be applied to infected wounds. As a bath additive it is especially soothing for conditions of the uterine system.

Parsley (Petroselinum sativum)
In moderation parsley is a useful healing herb. It is rich in iron and acts as a diuretic and carminative. It stimulates digestive functions and helps the inner cleansing process in cases of arthritis, rheumatism and edema. However, too much parsley can damage the liver and kidneys. The seeds are toxic. Parsley should be avoided during pregnancy.

Caraway (Carum carvi)
Another excellent carminative and digestive aid. Good for indigestion, wind, colic and nervous conditions, cramps and griping. The tea should be prepared as a cold water extract. Caraway seed oil, mixed with a base oil is excellent as a rub for respiratory illnesses and also as a treatment for skin parasites. An old home remedy for treating rheumatic pains as well as for toothache and headaches is to wrap Caraway seeds in a muslin bag, which is then heated (on the stove) and applied topically. Caraway seeds assist in labor, act as an emmenagogue and stimulate lactation. Simmered in milk they are decongestant and help against cramps and colic.

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
The aromatic seeds of this herb together with those of Cardamom are sometimes served as breath-sweeteners after dinner. Fennel seed is a good standby remedy for mothers, as they are extremely helpful in soothing cramps, colic and winds. The seeds have a wonderful demulcent action and can also be used as a tea or simmered in milk to treat cough, whooping cough, colds, asthma and catarrhal conditions (or added to other teas to improve their flavor). Externally, the infusion of Fennel seed or herb can also be used as an eyewash for conjunctivitis or sore, inflamed eyes. Migraines that result from stomach troubles might also be treated with Fennel. A few (1-3) drops of Fennel essential oil mixed with sugar and diluted in a glass of water is effective as a gargle for hoarseness and sore throats.

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)
This herb tends to be underused, especially when considering its many medicinal properties. A tea can be made with the powdered seeds to treat catarrhal infections of the lungs. Fenugreek also makes a great external application as a plaster for sores, ulcers, swollen glands, infected wounds, hard knots, even tumors and gout pains. It can be used as a first aid external remedy for appendicitis. Simmer a few spoons of ground Fenugreek seeds in vinegar and apply as a plaster to the swelling. Nursing mothers can greatly increase their milkflow by drinking regular cups of Fenugreek tea.

Anise (Pimpinella anisum)
Anise seed is an aromatic spice, which in the olden days was usually added to other, more foul tasting remedies to disguise their flavor. However, it also has some beneficial effects of its own. Anise seed is rich in volatile oils, which stimulate the appetite and 'warm' the stomach. They are demulcent, carminative, sedative and stimulate the flow of gall. They reduce stomach cramps, griping, colic and wind. Anise seed is a useful addition to herbal mixtures for lung problems, coughs and bronchial catarrh, as it is anti-catarrhal and helps to break up the phlegm (dry coughs). It is an old home remedy for hiccups and, like other umbelliferae, also stimulates lactation.

Cloves (Eugenia caryophyllus)
Cloves stimulate the circulation, improve digestion, expel wind and counteract nausea. Above all though, Clove (and in particular clove oil) is known in dental care for its analgesic effect on the nerves. It makes an excellent first aid treatment for toothache, though proper attention should follow this first aid remedy. Too much clove oil can paralyze the nerves.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
A favorite Chinese herb used for all kinds of stomach troubles, nausea, indigestion and cramps, it stimulates circulation and digestion. However, people with stomach ulcers or hyper-acidity should avoid ginger. It is often added to teas for colds and flues. Externally it can be applied to sore muscles and stiff joints as well as to the forehead for headaches (crushed ginger or the essential oil of ginger). The oil is also good for treating dandruff. For coughs and bronchitis it can be applied to the chest as a plaster, while chewing fresh ginger relieves sore throats, hoarseness and loss of voice. Modern research has shown it to be useful in treating motion sickness. Its action is said to lower cholesterol and inhibit coagulation, thus making it useful in cases where there is a high risk of stroke.

Cumin (Cuminum cyminum)
A wonderful digestive herb. Ayurvedic doctors prescribe it for the treatment of dyspepsia, wind, diarrhea and dysentery. It can be used as gripe water for colic in infants. In India it is thought of as an essential ingredient in foods for convalescence and nursing mothers value it for its lactogenic properties. It is also said to relieve morning sickness.

Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
One of the best herbs to aid digestion, stimulate the appetite, reduce griping, colicky pains, winds and diarrhea. In Ayurvedic medicine it is valued as a diuretic. Its cooling quality is used to break fevers. As a gargle it is said to be effective in the treatment of thrush of the mouth. Ground seeds mixed with barley flour and warm water are used as an application for ulcers.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
A well known ingredient of curry powder, turmeric has recently attracted some attention by western scientists because of its immune system enhancing properties. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic. It also acts on the liver and digestive system. In India it is much used externally as a cosmetic skin cleanser. Modern western research has shown some interesting activity in certain types of cancers. It protects the inner lining of the intestinal tract, which has shown very beneficial effects on gastro-intestinal ulcers. In Ayurvedic medicine turmeric tea is used for respiratory illnesses.

Standard Herbs
(Mentha piperita)
This is an old standby remedy. Useful for conditions of the digestive tract, such as winds, nausea and cramps. With Valerian it makes a good remedy for insomnia, melancholy and hypochondria. Never boil Peppermint as this destroys and dissipates the volatile oils. It is anticatarrhal and has a reputation for loosening tough and stubborn catarrhal congestion. However, Peppermint should not be used too regularly as it can irritate the intestinal lining.

Lavender (Lavendula officinalis)
Lavender has so many uses and applications that one could dedicate a whole book to it. It is a premier remedy for nervous conditions such as anxiety, melancholy and insomnia. It can even stop nervous twitches and shakes (Parkinson disease). It is a most soothing remedy for any stress related illnesses. It is also antiseptic. Essential oil of Lavender can be applied externally to cuts and abrasions and makes one of the best remedies for minor burns and stretch marks as it prevents scar formation. It counteracts putrefaction in the digestive system and aids digestion. A bath with Lavender flowers or lavender oil is soothing for arthritis, rheumatism and gout. Lavender oil mixed with Juniper oil makes a good rubbing oil for the same conditions. It also makes a useful remedy for migraine, headaches, dizziness and depression. For skin care the essential oil can be employed to treat spots and insect bites, abscesses and boils, eczema, inflammations, acne, sores, sunburn, dermatitis, dandruff as well as some parasitic skin infections such as lice and scabies.

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
Chamomile is an old stand-by favorite that can be used almost for any condition, so it seems. It does indeed have many useful properties that make it a very versatile remedy. It is anti-spasmodic and relaxant, especially on the involuntary nerves, which makes it useful for spasmodic coughs, cramps and convulsions of the digestive tract and uterine system. Its slight bitter principles are also useful as a general digestive aid after dinner. The relaxant quality makes it useful for mild cases of insomnia or anxiety and all stress related conditions. It is also anti-inflammatory, which makes it a soothing tea for colds and flues, a gargle for sore throat and an eye wash for sore, inflamed eyes. Especially beneficial for catarrhal congestion of the upper respiratory tract is the use of Chamomile as a steam inhalation. Chamomile can be used as a first aid wound cleanser and frequent fomentations with strong chamomile tea will reduce swelling and inflammation.

Rosehip (Rosa canina)
Very rich in vitamin C, this is the tea of choice for coughs and colds. It also makes a very refreshing and healthy summer drink when served with ice. The seeds of the rosehips contain much of the healing virtues, thus they should not be discarded when picking and drying fresh rosehips. 3oz of whole rosehips simmered in 1/2 liter of milk for about 3/4 of an hour makes a soothing remedy for bladder and kidney troubles, including stones. The leaves are slightly astringent and are beneficial for lung troubles. A marmalade made from the fruits makes an excellent and very tasty and healthy bread spread which helps to ward off winter colds. The seeds simmered in water for 1 hour make an excellent diuretic decoction for oedema, rheumatism and gout. Rosehip tincture strengthens the stomach (steep a handful of dried fruit in 3/4 l of brandy).

The list could be extended indefinitely, but one has to draw the line somewhere. For the purpose of this article I have drawn the line at items, which can be found at any average grocery store. This is to illustrate that many everyday items, available with no more difficulties than reaching for the kitchen cupboard, can be used remedially. For those seriously interested in learning more about herbal home remedies, there are plenty of useful books available, which explain in detail the actions of the herbs as well as outlining the basic approaches to healing common illnesses.