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Spice Rack for Home First Aid

As herbalists, we often get calls at all times of day and evening from friends and family asking what can help with this or that, from troublesome splinters to croupy coughs, fever, pain, you name it. The first thing we ask is what they have in? What is in the kitchen cupboards and what does their herbs and spice rack look like? This is especially important when it comes to your spice rack for home first aid.

Your kitchen herbs, spices, and store cupboard items are not just ingredients for delicious meals – they also hold the potential to be your home’s first line of defense when it comes to minor health concerns. From soothing skin irritations to calming digestive woes, these everyday items have been used for centuries as part of traditional and holistic medicine. This guide will show you how to utilise your kitchen’s bounty for a natural approach to health and healing. Let’s dive into the wonderful world of kitchen herbs, spices, and store cupboard essentials that can transform into your trusted allies in times of need.

History of the Spice Rack

A spice box, the masala dabba of ancient India holds much importance. Not only are spices recognised for culinary flavour but also for powerful and preventative medicines. These spice boxes are still passed through the generations and represent a homage to ancient cultures, a connection to past generations.

A spice rack today often adorns the kitchen and often without even knowing it, holds a vast array of medicinal actions in just a few popular spices like cinnamon, cardamon, turmeric, black pepper.

Home First Aid from the Spice Rack

Many spices commonly found in kitchens can be sourced and applied for medicinal purposes due to their natural properties and health benefits.

Turmeric

Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory herb, hepatic (meaning the liver is supported), a healing and soothing remedy. Turmeric milk or golden milk has gained popularity in recent years. A centuries old remedy in India combined with black pepper and warm milk as a soothing medicinal drink. It is absolutely delicious and can be sweetened a little – if that is the way you like it. You can mix a little of the powder into a paste and pour over hot milk and black pepper, adding a spoon of coconut oil then simmer gently for a few minutes and then pour into a cup. The fat and pepper help the spice to become more bioavailable or easier to get into our tissues properly.

Black pepper contains a compound called piperine which has the ability to boost the absorption of curcumin, one compound in turmeric, by up to 2000%! This is down to piperine inhibiting enzymes that break down curcumin in the digestive tract, allowing more of this anti-inflammatory superhero to enter your bloodstream.

Turmeric is fat-soluble, meaning it dissolves in fat. Incorporating a source of healthy fat, like coconut oil or olive oil, into your turmeric-infused dishes and drinks enhances absorption. Fat ensures that curcumin is transported through the bloodstream and utilised effectively by your body. This by combining the Piperine from pepper and the fat-solubility of turmeric, you create a synergistic effect that maximises the therapeutic potential of this ancient spice.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon has been used for centuries not only for its delightful flavour but also for the potent medicinal properties. A wonderful powerhouse, cinnamon boasts abundant antioxidants that safeguard the body against oxidative stress induced by free radicals, promoting overall health and mitigating inflammation. It enhances insulin sensitivity, thereby reducing blood sugar levels. Additionally, cinnamon aids in supporting heart health by decreasing total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. The spice also possesses natural antimicrobial properties, facilitating the removal of bacteria and fungi from the body. Traditionally, this delightful sweet spice has been employed for preserving food and inhibiting the growth of specific microorganisms due to its antimicrobial effects.

Cinnamon is also super naturally sweet and is a fabulous anti-inflammatory, digestive spice. We often add cinnamon along with cloves (also wonderful for toothache) and cardamon with a little sweetener, like honey, to make a warming digestive drink. This is especially supportive when feeling under the weather, or if you are suffering from a stomach bug or are generally feeling poorly.

Garlic

Garlic contains allicin, a potent compound endowed with robust antibacterial and antiviral attributes, aiding the body in resisting infections and fortifying the immune system. Abundant in antioxidants such as selenium and sulphur compounds, garlic provides a shield against oxidative stress. This, in turn, bolsters overall cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure and reducing cholesterol levels.

The compounds within garlic also enhance immune system function. Regular garlic consumption is associated with prevention and speeding up recovery from illnesses. With a longstanding tradition of use in alleviating respiratory issues, garlic’s antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties make it potentially beneficial for conditions like the common cold and cough. Plus, garlic exhibits antifungal properties, offering potential support against certain fungal infections.

The oils in garlic are excreted through the lungs which is why you can get smelly garlic breath after eating it. This means that the lung tissue comes into direct contact with the antimicrobial effects of the garlic.

Fresh Cloves

Cloves exhibit remarkable versatility in herbal first aid due to their diverse therapeutic properties. With their analgesic attributes derived from eugenol, cloves offer a natural remedy for pain relief. Whether applied topically as clove oil or integrated into a poultice, they present a potential solution for minor injuries, toothaches, and muscle discomfort.

Spice Rack for Home First AidThe antimicrobial and antiseptic features of cloves make them an effective aid in infection prevention. In particularl, clove oil stands out as a natural antiseptic, serving to cleanse wounds and cuts, thereby reducing the risk of bacterial contamination. They’re also renowned as a home remedy for toothaches, cloves, and their numbing effects, provide temporary relief when clove oil is applied to the affected area. This traditional approach offers a soothing solution for tooth pain.

Moreover, cloves exhibit anti-inflammatory characteristics, attributed to eugenol, making them valuable in reducing swelling linked to minor injuries or insect bites when applied topically. In addition to pain relief, cloves have a historical application in easing respiratory issues, offering relief for coughs and congestion through inhalation or clove tea consumption. Plus, their digestive assistance, mild anti-spasmodic traits, and effectiveness in treating aphthous ulcers showcase the diverse and holistic benefits of incorporating cloves into health and wellness practices.

Dried Herbs for Home First Aid

When you add to the spice rack the dried herbs like oregano and bay, the kitchen shelves really start to look like an apothecary.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

A bit of sage brewed up into a healing infusion is a classic sore throat remedy. Soothing, anti-infective, sage has antimicrobial properties. A sage tea can be gargled with or just drunk. Amazing relief when your throat is feeling really uncomfortable and tonsils swollen.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Thyme is a classic for coughs and colds as it has antibacterial properties and can be used for respiratory issues. It is very powerful as a herb and only a little is needed in a brew. We like to combine thyme with a little ginger root, sage and oregano.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Rosemary has antioxidant, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties to support the healing process by creating poultices for minor wounds and cuts to help prevent infection. The soothing scent of rosemary can also offer relief from headaches.

Oregano (Origanum vulgare)

Oregano is rich in antioxidants and antimicrobial compounds. Additionally, oregano’s anti-inflammatory attributes can provide relief when incorporated into poultices for soothing sore muscles and reducing localized swelling, making it a versatile and beneficial herb for addressing common ailments.

Home First Aid from your Store Cupboard

Your store cupboard likely contains various items that can be used for natural remedies and medicinal purposes. Here are some common items you might have in your store cupboard that can be used as home remedies:

Bread

Bread can surprisingly make and excellent poultice for splinters refusing to come out, any infections, like around an ingrown toenail or anywhere where you need a drawing and softening action externally on the skin. A poultice is a soft mass of material be it herbs in a warm soaked sock, clay with a little warm water or indeed bread. You gently moisten some of the soft middle and apply with a large plaster to hold it in place. As a poultice dries out you need to apply another until the drawing action has worked.

Oats

Oats are very resourceful for home first aid, and are especially effective to alleviate skin irritations such as eczema, rashes, sunburn, and insect bites. Add them to a bath to soothe skin irritations or make an oat paste applied topically can help relieve itching and inflammation. Alternatively, soak a cloth in oatmeal tea and gently apply it to the affected area to provide relief.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is often used for its potential digestive benefits and can help with heartburn and indigestion. Its antimicrobial properties means it can also be used as a disinfectant for minor wounds, cuts and abrasions. Dilute raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with water when using it, and if you have sensitive skin or allergies, perform a patch test before using it on a larger area.

Honey

Honey is known for its antibacterial properties and can be used to soothe sore throats, coughs, and minor burns. Applying a thin layer of honey to a wound and covering it with a clean bandage can promote healing and keep the wound clean to limit the risk of infection.

For your herbal first aid kit, you can include a small jar of raw honey, along with sterile dressings or bandages for wound care. It’s a good practice to label the honey jar specifically for first aid purposes to prevent any cross-contamination.

Another great example of using honey as a kitchen medicine, especially  when it is hard to get to the shops or the herbs needed are not in season is our Onion Syrup Recipe – so easy and so healthy!

We invite you to have a little look through your store cupboards and see what you have that could support you in times of need. Even certain types of tea, such as chamomile or peppermint, can be used for their various health benefits like a warm compress for soothing eye irritations.

So take a peek in your cupboards….you might be surprised to realise what herbal remedies are in there for home first aid!

Don’t stop reading yet…!

Have you got the right remedy in your first aid kit to deal with any common accidents in the home?

Our First Aid E-guide has you covered for anything from hayfever to headaches, bruising to bug bites….and so much more!

We dive deep into symptoms and herbal remedy recipes so you can feel confident and build a better relationship with health and safety in the home.

Herbal First Aid Eguide

 

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