Spices, herbs, tinctures and essential oils have been used for millennia to season our food, heal our bodies and boost our spirits. In our Throwback Thursday (#TBT) series, we at re:iimmune will take you back in history to learn how these gifts from Mother Nature have been used. We'll focus on their use through the ages and beneficial purposes in regard to nutrition, natural health and household care. This week we discuss plantain, a "weed" that has many benefits!You’ve probably seen plantain (the plant variety, not the fruit related to the banana) growing in your backyard and dismissed it as a weed. However, this plant has been used for thousands of years by native peoples as a source of nutrition and healing. Plantago major or common plantain can grow almost anywhere, sprouting up even through cracks in asphalt and concrete and it can thrive in nearly any climate. Related to spinach, plantain leaves provide iron, beta carotene, calcium, ascorbic acid and contains vitamins A, C and K. It can be added raw to salads but adult leaves tend to be stringy. It can be cooked just like spinach and the seedpods are edible as well, a bit like asparagus. Plantain is a little more bitter than spinach or asparagus and are great to use in stews or soups and stir-fries. They also have gentle astringent properties which help to dry up excess secretions in the respiratory and digestive tracts and can be helpful in treating chest colds and diarrhea. Plantain is also commonly used as a natural poultice to draw out toxins and stingers from bug bites and stings and to alleviate other irritations. Crushed and added right to the problem area like a paste, it’s anti-inflammatory properties make it useful on wounds, burns and even removing splinters. Even if you don’t plan on harvesting the plant for use from your own backyard, it’s good to keep this information in your mind when camping or hiking in the woods! Plantain can also help to cool and heal sunburns and because it contains a phytochemical called allantoin it generally promotes healthy skin by stimulating new cells and healthy tissue. While you may be able to find plantain in your own backyard, if it’s been sprayed with chemicals and fertilizer you may want to find it from a different source. It is invasive so if you are thinking about planting some in your yard, be forewarned. Also keep in mind that while young shoots are more tender, the larger leaves contain more of the beneficial phytochemicals.
AWhat doesn’t Vitamin A do? This powerhouse is in charge of general growth and development. It’s crucial for eye health, teeth, skin and helps to boost the immune system and cuts the risk of heart disease. You know you are getting a dose of A when you are eating foods with an orange hue, caused by the carotene pigment. Carrots, oranges, sweet potatoes and cantaloupe are all packed with Vitamin A. The recommended daily dosage is 2,300 IU. Be advised that it can be toxic in large doses so stick with the recommended amount. B VITAMINS The eight B vitamins include B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B7 (biotin), B12 and Folic acid. These are responsible for energy production, maintaining metabolism, muscle tone, iron absorption, immune function and memory. These nutrients can be found in whole foods including potatoes, bananas, lentils, peppers, beans, whole grains, yeast and molasses. Recommended daily allowance is as follows. . .
- B1: 2-10 mg/day
- B2: 5-10mg/day
- B3: 15-30mg/day
- B5: 1-15mgs
- B6: 6-12mg/day
- B7 : 100-300 mcgs
- B12: 12-100 mcg
- Folic acid: 200-400 mcg/day
CKnown for boosting the immune system, Vitamin C is also hard at work giving skin elasticity, strengthening blood vessels, assisting in iron absorption, helping wounds heal faster and preventing heart disease. Oranges, guava, bell peppers, kiwi, grapefruit, strawberries, Brussel sprouts and cantaloupe are all great sources for C. A single orange covers your recommended daily dosage, 75 mg.
DHere’s one of the essential vitamins you may want to strongly consider supplementing. While milk, eggs, orange juice, fish and mushrooms provide Vitamin D, the amounts are not enough. The recommended daily dosage is 1,000 to 2,000 IU. The best source of Vitamin D is spending time in the sun. However, with rising skin cancer rates we have to balance how much time we spend in the sun without sunscreen with our need for Vitamin D. It’s necessary for strong, healthy bones and optimum muscle function. It’s believed that it can reduce the risk of breast cancer by as much as 50 percent! E Many cells of our body use vitamin E to carry out important functions. It gives a boost to the immune system, widen blood vessels, prevents clots and offers protection against free radicals. Almonds are absolutely packed with Vitamin E and other nuts like peanuts and hazelnuts and sunflower seeds are also good sources. For adults, the recommended daily allowance is 15 mg or 22.4 IU. K Blood coagulation, the process by which blood clots is dependent upon K. Green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli and brussel sprouts are the best natural sources. The recommended daily doses differ for men and women at 120 mcg for men and 90 mcg for women. Research is finding that vitamin K has been shown to help improve insulin resistance in older men.
Spices, herbs, tinctures and essential oils have been used for millennia to season our food, heal our bodies and boost our spirits. In our Throwback Thursday (#TBT) series, we at re:iimmune will take you back in history to learn how these gifts from Mother Nature have been used. We'll focus on their use through the ages and beneficial purposes in regard to nutrition, natural health and household care. Today we focus on the wonders of dill!
These days, dill is known primarily as a pickling herb and though it is common in many gardens, it’s not widely used for medicinal properties. However, since ancient times and still today it’s been used by herbalists as a digestive aid to ease gas, infant colic, to induce sleep and treat kidney problems.
In the ancient Egyptian Ebers papyrus from around 1500 BCE, lists dill as an ingredient for a painkiller mixture. The Greeks are said to have used fronds of dill to cover their eyes to induce sleep and even it’s name is derived from a Norse word “dylla” which means “to lull” or soothe. Modern German studies have shown the herb to be an effective treatment against intestinal bacteria.
The seeds of the plant contain an oil which has antibacterial properties which help destroy the intestinal bacteria that lead to ulcers and other intestinal issues. The herb contains stimulating essential oils that activate digestive juices and is helpful in relieving constipation. It’s also very effective at combating halitosis and in India, the seeds are often chewed to treat bad breath.
It has also been commonly used throughout history by nursing mothers to increase milk production and deter colic in newborns. The essential oils of the herb can also help with the stimulation of hormones helping to keep menstrual cycles regular. The plant is also a good source of calcium, helping to reduce bone loss in postmenopausal women.
In addition to all of the above, dill is also a good source of fiber, manganese, magnesium and iron.
To store fresh dill, it’s a good idea to keep it wrapped in a damp towel or stems in a glass of water in the refrigerator. It is a fragile herb and therefore will only keep for a couple of days. You can also freeze it, whole or chopped in an airtight baggie or container. Dill seeds, if stored in a sealed container and kept in a cool, dry place, will stay fresh for about six months.