The plant world is the greatest provider of our food, yet when we think of the food we eat versus herbal medicine, we often think of two separate things. Foods make us think of calories, carbohydrates, fats and proteins, whereas herbal medicines make us think of chemical constituents with specific healing actions on specific organ systems. However, many plants that are now being used as herbal medicines were once discovered, cultivated and used as medicinal foods by our ancestors, meaning they were consumed regularly as part of their normal diet.
In herbalism, there are some herbs that are classified strictly as medicines since they can be toxic in large doses and must be used cautiously, but generally, many herbs can be added to one's daily diet to provide the body with an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and disease fighting chemicals known as phytonutrients.
Most people are quite familiar with the use of culinary herbs and spices. However, many don’t realize that they are adding extraordinary medicinal value to their meals by using them on a regular basis. Herbs and spices, even when used in small quantities, are extremely rich in phytonutrients, which have profound effects on health and wellbeing.
Keep in mind that your typical culinary herbs and spices are not the only medicinal foods that you can add to your diet. Many fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, have extraordinary medicinal properties and can be classified as medicinal foods, often referred to as “super foods.”
One of my favorite quotes by Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food” always made a lot of sense to me in terms of nutrition and eating healthy to prevent and reverse disease. However, the second part of the quote didn't become as apparent until I started learning about super foods and herbal medicines. All the medicine we need is found in nature, although the important take home message is that these natural medicines are best taken as foods, as part of our daily diet as a whole complex package of nutrients the way nature designed it, rather than synthetic or isolated constituents in supplemental pill forms.
Don’t get me wrong, supplements can be very helpful for providing certain nutrients to the body, and I do use supplements in my practice. However, I always like to incorporate more whole food based medicines into one’s diet through the use of herbal medicines and highly nutrient-dense foods.
Here is a list of my top 10 favorite medicinal foods that I like to add to my daily diet:
1) Medicinal Mushrooms: Immune modulating, adaptogen, antioxidants
2) Garlic: Antimicrobial, anti-cholesterol, detoxifying, immune supporting
3) Ginger: Warming, antimicrobial, digestive tonic, detoxifying
4) Turmeric: Anti-inflammatory, antioxidants, antimicrobial, detoxifying
5) Lemon: Alkalizing, antimicrobial, digestive tonic, detoxifying
6) Cilantro: Alkalizing, chelates heavy metals, detoxifying, mineral rich
7) Hemp Hearts: Complete protein, rich in omega 3 fatty acids, mineral rich
8) Goji Berries: Adaptogen, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, soothing digestive tonic
9) Blueberries: Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, venous tonic, heart protective, anti-platelet
10) Honey: Antimicrobial, wound healing, enzyme rich, anti-inflammatory
Information can be empowering, but we all have unique health profiles and needs. The health-related information contained in this post is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for a visit with a licensed naturopathic doctor. The advice in this article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
I'm Dr. Alexia Harris, welcome to my
creative online space!
I created this blog for anyone wanting to learn more about naturopathic medicine and for those who enjoy healthy recipes or want inspiration on how to nourish their body from the inside out!
Hope you enjoy!
Follow me on Instagram and Facebook for notifications on my most recent posts!