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How to Stock a Remedy Pantry

How to Stock a Remedy Pantry

Top ten ingredients to include in your pantry for homemade remedies

How to Stock a Remedy Pantry

Look at that spice rack. Hiding among the barely touched jars lie potent natural medicines, just waiting to be plucked from the shelf so they can show off their health benefits.

Dandelion

What is it?

Like so many of our herbal heroes, dandelion is actually considered a weed! You’ve probably got plenty of it growing in your backyard, but since it’s easily confused with another herb called cat’s ear, I don’t recommend that you play botanist and forage for your own. We use two parts of the plant in herbal medicine: the green leaves stimulate digestion, and the root is used for liver complaints.

What can I use it for?

Loss of appetite, constipation.

Elderflower

What is it?

Elderflowers are tiny creamy-white flowers that grow on elder trees in big clusters called umbels. They appear just when we need them, when allergies hit in springtime.

What can I use it for?

Hayfever, allergies, colds and to help children with a runny nose.

Fennel seed

What is it?

Fennel is a small, elongated seed that comes from a plant from the same family as the carrot. It tastes a bit like aniseed, and in traditional medicine is regarded as a carminative and spasmolytic. That means that, along with fresh peppermint from your garden, it’s about to become your strongest ally when it comes to the battle of the bloat; the oils in fennel relax muscles in the gut and make for easier digestion.

What can I use it for?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), bloating, cramps, flatulence.

Garlic

What is it?

Garlic bulbs really are a gift from nature. Known to boost immunity, kill off bad bugs and even help lower ‘bad cholesterol’, garlic is a tonic we should all be on. Keep the parsley within reach though, and munch on a handful afterwards to ward off garlic breath.

What can I use it for?

Maintaining healthy cholesterol and lipid levels, boosting immunity in winter and fighting off colds.

Ginger

What is it?

Like its colourful cousin turmeric, ginger acts as an anti-inflammatory. It’s also my absolute favourite option when feeling nauseous. In traditional Chinese medicine, ginger is used to warm a cold body, and so it is a great tea to sip on during cooler weather.

What can I use it for?

Bloating, colds, nausea, period pain, motion sickness and even hangovers.

Green tea

What is it?

Green tea is produced from the leaves of the same plant as black tea, Camellia sinensis, but is less processed. It’s full of catechins, which have been rigorously tested in clinical trials to show their antioxidant and immune-stimulating effects.

Other compounds called xanthines have given green tea a reputation as a metabolism- booster and weight loss aid. As if all that wasn’t enough to land it a permanent spot in your pantry, it’s also strongly antibacterial. As a teenager, I spent a lot of time ridding myself of pubescent pimples with a damp green tea bag—true story!

What can I use it for?

Colds and flu, weight loss, fatigue, acne.

Licorice

What is it?

Before you get too excited, I’m not giving you the all clear to jump into the sweets aisle. Licorice root was once used to flavour confectionery, but has mostly been abandoned now in favour of artificial alternatives. The root itself though is an incredible tonic, and herbalists use it to aid in recovery from periods of intense stress, both physical and emotional.

What can I use it for?

Recovery and adaptation to stress, and sore throats. Avoid licorice if you may have high blood pressure, and check with your doctor first.

Oats

What is it?

‘Oats aren’t a herbal medicine!’ I hear you cry, and maybe you’re right, but they are such a medicinally powerful food that I couldn’t leave them out. The fibres in oats bind to excess cholesterol in the gut and help lower ‘bad cholesterol’. They also leave skin feeling silky smooth when used in external preparations.

What can I use it for?

Maintaining healthy blood cholesterol and lipids, and eczema.

Turmeric

What is it?

Turmeric really is the king of anti- inflammatories. It contains a little something called curcumin, which is believed to work in the same way as pharmaceutical anti- inflammatories. And the good news? It doesn’t have the nasty side effects, leaving your gut lining healthy and happy.

What can I use it for?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), arthritis and joint pain.

Valerian

What is it?

Valerian root was my first introduction to herbal medicine, when I decided to take a natural sleep aid on a long-haul flight. It was a big mistake opening the tincture inside the plane; it didn’t take long for valerian’s tell-tale old sock smell to fill the cabin.

What can I use it for?

Insomnia, mild anxiety.

This is an edited extract from The Garden Apothecary by Reece Carter (HQ NON FICTION $39.99)

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