Preventing illnesses with common herbs

Herbs have been used since time immemorial to treat health disorders, both for prevention and cure. India being home to the traditional healing system of Ayurveda, it is but natural that we use many natural therapies that are part of our regular diet, like coriander, pudina (mint), ginger or garlic.

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In fact, some herbs when administered properly can prevent and treat serious illnesses. Here’s a look at the benefits of some of the common herbs that we consume every day.

Tusli or basil: Commonly used in Italian cooking and even worshipped in India, this herb has multiple benefits. It helps relieve fever and inflammation and fights bacterial infection. It prevents development of gastric ulcers and cancer, and also reduces blood pressure.

Mint: Mint or pudina, known for its flavour and smell, also has medicinal properties. It is good for the gastrointestinal system and reduces irritable bowel syndrome. It acts as an effective pain killer and is used to treat sprains and joint pains. It also has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Inhalation of mint relieves nasal congestion. Menthol, an essential oil present in mint, is used for many medicinal preparations. Applying a paste of freshly ground mint leaves can give the face an instant glow. But there’s more – researchers at the Salford University in UK found that mint may also help in fighting cancer.

Coriander: Coriander, also known as cilantro, is widely used in many Indian preparations and most of our dishes would be incomplete without it. Known for its appetizing aroma, coriander is a rich source of fibre and aids in proper digestion. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, making it effective for arthritis. It may also increase insulin levels, thus reducing blood sugar levels. Coriander contains an antibacterial substance which might be a safe and natural way of fighting salmonella, a common cause for many food-borne illnesses. Coriander seeds help to reduce fever and excessive menstrual flow.

Parsley: A sprig of parsley is much more than a garnish. Parsley is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K, iron and folate. Parsley also neutralizes certain carcinogens (cancer producing substances). Additionally, it’s rich antioxidant properties help to prevent diseases of the heart, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.

Cayenne pepper: Cayenne pepper, or lal mirch, not only makes food spicy, but has great health benefits. It protects the gastrointestinal tract against the formation of ulcers and helps in managing functional dyspepsia. It is also used to treat chronic musculoskeletal and neuropathic pain in patients who do not respond to other treatments. It may also be helpful in treating cancer, like that of the prostate and bladder.

Dill: Also known as soa, dill is good herb for relieving gas and bloating. When given to nursing mothers, it is known to promote milk production.

Garlic: Extremely beneficial for our health, garlic reduces blood pressure. It also dilates blood vessels, thus ensuring better oxygen supply to the organs. Research shows that the consumption of garlic is associated with reduced risk for cancer.

Ginger: Ginger boosts the immune system, helping the body to fight off infections. It is also known to reduce cancer treatment side effects, such as nausea and vomiting. It is also rich in antioxidants that reduce the effects of aging and protect the body against inflammation, atherosclerosis (plaque-formation in the arteries) or cancer.

Turmeric: Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. When mixed with milk and black pepper, it acts as a disinfectant and also soothes the throat in case of cough. It also reduces muscle and joint pain. Turmeric paste applied on the skin helps against skin diseases, while inhaling its fumes relieves cold. Besides turmeric may help fight cancer due to the presence of its compound, curcumin.

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