From ancient times humans have eaten natural herbs and spices.
Traditional medicine knew how to use them to act as catalysts in enhancing or reducing the power of foods. Food really can be medicine.
In June, Harmony in Health held an interactive workshop exploring tastes, textures and types of herbs and spices in cooked or raw food.
The session, which you can watch above, explored the six tastes found in easily accessible herbs and spices.
If you want to join in as you watch, then it’d be useful to have cinnamon, lemon, salt, ginger, a clove of garlic, cumin, rosemary and a hot cup of black coffee or tea with you. Otherwise, it’s fine to just watch!
The video discusses the variability of individual responses to them and explore ways to use them in our everyday lives.
How do we find the right balance in our cooking and eating to reach harmony within ourselves and the environment?
For more information on herbs; read our guide to 16 of them below:
A soothing, cooling, moistening herb that has been used for thousands of years in Ayurveda, by the ancient Egyptians and the early Greeks.
1). Excellent remedy for wounds, burns and tissue trauma – and a common ingredient in many skin products
2). Relieves inflammation in the digestive, skin and urinary systems with a cooling and soothing effect
3). A tonic for the female reproductive system, helping to regulate blood flow.
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A powerful plant which has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to support digestion, and boost a weakened immune system whilst also fighting infection.
1). Known in Ayurveda as the ‘king of bitters’, andrographis is renowned for improving digestion and cooling inflammation.
2). Growing scientific evidence supports that andrographis helps protect against upper respiratory infections like colds and flu, and reduces the impact of infections
3). Similar protective effects are likely for urinary infections, and infectious problems in the digestive tract
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A strengthening yet calming adaptogenic tonic that nourishes the nerves, whilst also building core energy.
1). As an adaptogen, it helps the body to cope with the increasing everyday demands of modern life and counters the effects of stress on the body
2). Calming and strengthening tonic for the nervous system, adrenals and immune system
3). Promotes restful and quality sleep, further promoting good health when demand upon the body is high
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Chamomile was recognised for its relaxing properties by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. It is probably the most widely used relaxing herb for soothing stress and anxiety.
1).Chamomile’s anti-inflammatory actions are useful in digestive, respiratory and skin infections characterised by pain, inflammation and swelling
2). Excellent for reducing tension and spasm in the digestive system
3). Effective and safe for children, especially as a tea, to relieve insomnia, colic and anxiety
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The humble elderberry is a natural immune booster for your body and a rich source of powerful antioxidants.
1).One of nature’s most effective antivirals
2). Antispasmodic, soothing, clearing, antimicrobial and strengthening to immunity
3). Natural source of vitamin C, anthocyanins and flavonoids- all powerful antioxidants
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Aside from its many culinary uses, fennel offers a wide array of health benefits providing antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial effects.
1). Main traditional use is within the digestive tract helping relieve many common complaints
2). Its essential oils help relax smooth muscle in the gut, musculoskeletal and reproductive systems, easing both
spasms and pain
3). Useful anti-microbial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect in the body
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A warming herb, known as ‘the universal medicine’ in Ayurveda, offering support for digestion, lungs and circulation
1). Supports the ability to digest food, as well as stimulating appetite and calming an upset stomach and gut
2). Excellent circulatory stimulant, particularly for the peripheral circulation to the tissues
3). Stimulates defensive responses in the upper respiratory and digestive mucosa helping the body fend off infections
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An ancient medicinal plant considered sacred in many cultures- its combination of cannabinoids and essential oils can support stress and its related symptoms, from digestion to inflammation
1). Long history of human use, reflected in our bodies having a specific signalling system that hemp compounds interact with (the cannabinoid system)
2). The leaf and flower contain negligible levels of THC, so are not psychoactive – they won’t get you ‘stoned’
3). Targets many stress symptoms at once due to its complex make-up and the ubiquitous nature of the cannabinoid
system in the body
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A sweet, healing and tonifying herb traditionally used to both harmonise a formula and enhance the effect of other herbs.
1). Contains glycyrrhizic acid which is fifty times sweeter than sugar without the calorific value and was prized by the
ancient Greeks and Romans
2). Soothes inflamed mucous membranes, with a particular affinity for the respiratory tract, digestive and urinary system
3). Strengthens and supports the nervous system and adrenal glands, making it an effective adaptogen and nourishing tonic
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A unique form of bright green tea, derived from young green tea leaf tips, that boosts metabolism and energy whilst also supporting cleansing and detoxification.
1). Natural energy booster and source of caffeine
2). Boosts cognitive functions such as memory and concentration
3). A natural antioxidant which protects against free radical damage
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Mint is one of the most widely consumed single ingredients in herbal teas. It is full of aromatic menthol which ‘wakes up’ the senses.
1). Mint is an excellent decongestant, acting primarily within the digestive, respiratory and nervous system relieving signs of congestion
2). It reduces discomfort caused by wind, bloating and colic
3). The pain-relieving properties of the essential oil menthol helps to reduce nervous or muscular tension within the body
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All medicinal mushrooms help to nourish, strengthen and balance the immune system.
1). Contain beta-glucans, powerful polysaccharides renowned for their profound effect on the immune system and on inflammation
2). Full spectrum extract which contains both the fruiting body and the mycelium to deliver the best concentration of beta-glucans
3). Provide both short- and long-term adaptogenic support for the immune system and chronic conditions
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An extremely bitter herb useful in treating inflammations and infections of the skin and digestive tract
1). A primary herb for dealing with infections caused by bacteria, fungi, yeast and parasites, especially for digestive and skin issues
2). As well as fighting infection, it also encourages a healthy inflammatory response
3). Protects the mucous membranes of the mouth and is traditionally used for oral hygiene
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The ultimate adaptogenic tonic to support women of all ages. Shatavari helps to balance hormones, enhance fertility and reduce menopausal symptoms.
1). Traditionally used to support women’s overall health, fertility and breastfeeding
2), Supports immune function1 and has good antioxidant activity2 which may contribute to its overall benefits for health
3). Soothing and cooling due to its moistening and nourishing properties, and is traditionally used for indigestion and ulcers
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Ayurveda’s most widely used formula supports natural cleansing processes helping to maintain a healthy digestive tract.
1). A combination of three fruits, suitable for everyone, as each fruit balances one of the doshas (constitutional types)
2). Its ability to both cleanse and tonify the digestive system makes it a very useful traditional formula useful in all digestive
3). Traditionally used for its laxative action, though this is mild enough not to induce any dependency
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Turmeric is a popular traditional spice with an established and confirmed reputation for reducing digestive upsets and inflammatory problems
1). An ancient remedy for improving digestion and reducing inflammation
2). Curcumin, its most commonly researched constituent, is very poorly absorbed
3). Both turmeric and curcumin are likely to work mainly in the gut, affecting mechanisms to reduce inflammatory problems elsewhere in the body
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