Cooking to heal with common herbs and spices – highlighting basil.
Contributed by Rylen Feeney, Dipl. ABT & CH (NCCAOM), Certified Amma Therapist, Whole Food Nutritionist.
Herbs and spices are rich in phytonutrients such as flavonoids, antioxidants, carotenoids, inositols, isoflavones, and lignans, which contribute significantly to overall health and wellness. Phytonutrients improve our immunity, provide antioxidants, assist with estrogen metabolism, detoxify carcinogens, repair cellular damage and more.
From a Chinese Medicine dietary perspective herbs and spices are largely aromatic and pungent and thereby increase and circulate blood, qi and fluids, preventing stagnation and damp accumulations.
Here is a sample of one such common herb:
Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum; or Luo Le in Chinese medicine) belongs to the mint family and is referred to as the king of herbs. It is used medicinally and in culinary cuisines of Mexico, Spain, Italy, Greece, Thailand, Vietnam, and India among others. In addition to being loaded with phytonutrients, Basil is a good source of protein, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Riboflavin and Niacin, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Copper and Manganese.
Chinese Medicine categorizes sweet basil energetically as warm, pungent, sweet and bitter. It is a warming, drying yang tonic with an affinity for the organ complexes of the Lungs, Kidneys, Stomach, Spleen and Large Intestines. It can be used to transform phlegm in lung conditions, lift the spirit and brighten the mood by tonifying the yang. It also helps with upset and pain in the abdomen including stomach aches, bloating, gas and menstrual cramps due to cold in the abdomen.
Western Herbal Medicine recognizes basil to be antiviral, antifungal and insecticidal agent, anti-inflammatory, it lowers blood glucose, triglyceride and cholesterol levels, and said to be a remedy for headaches.
Along with pesto and Caprese salad, consider these additional ways to add basil into your diet:
Basil tea: coarsely chop a handful of fresh Basil and steep in hot water for 5 – 8 minutes, strain and drink. May add ginger and/or licorice for abdominal bloating, and pain.
Fruit salad: particularly good with berries, papaya, mango, peaches and apricots.
Eggs w/ basil (instead of parsley or chives)
Stir fry with ginger and green onion and meat for menstrual pain.
Blend handful of fresh Basil in blender with fresh apple juice for sinus congestion.
Here is a Wellspring School favorite recipe that contains Basil: Carrot & Cashew Pate … enjoy!
Photo by Hopkinsil on Flickr.