White Sage

{Salvia apiana}

Also, Known As:

  • Bee Sage
  • Sacred Sage
  • White Ceremonial Sage
  • White Sage

Salvia apiana or white sage is a perennially growing evergreen shrub that is indigenous to the southwestern regions of the United States and the adjoining north-western areas of Mexico. This herb is mostly found growing in the wild in the scrub habitat in the coastal regions of Baja California and Southern California, located on the western peripheries of the Sonoran and Mojave deserts.

White sage possibly derives its name from its ashen evergreen leaves, which contain oils and resins. The leaves of white sage emit a potent aroma when they are rubbed. The white to light lavender hued blooms of this plant attract bees, and this is described in the plant’s specific name – apiana. White sage bears many flower stalks, which measure anything between 1 meter and 1.3 meters (3.3 feet to 4.3 feet) in height. Occasionally, the flower stalks of white sage have a pinkish hue and they grow higher than the foliage, especially in spring.

White sage usually grows up to a height of five feet. The plants bloom during the summer. The petals of white sage pucker back, as the stamens dangle on the sides. The white sage flowers are often troublesome for the bees, as they can neither go inside nor get out with ease. However, bumblebees are more apt at dealing with these flowers, while hummingbirds have no trouble at all in collecting nectar from white sage flowers.

Plant Part Used:

Dried leaves.

Herbal Use:

Native American groups inhabiting the United States’ Pacific coast extensively use white sage or Salvia apiana. The seed of this plant formed the main ingredient of their staple food, locally known as “Pinole”. People belonging to the Cahuilla collected the white sage seeds in large amounts. They pounded the seeds and blended it with wheat flour as well as sugar for preparing biscuits or gruel. Even the leaves and stems of white sage were consumed by members of the Chumash as well as other local tribes.

Many tribes used the seeds of white sage to clear their eyes of foreign objects, much in the same manner as the Europeans used the clary sage seeds. Cahuilla women also used the roots of this plant to prepare a tea, which is reported to provide strength after childbirth, in addition to healing. Several Native American tribes also burnt the leaves of white sage and the smoke was used in various rituals undertaken for purification.

The leaves of this plant were also used to make an infusion, which was employed in the form of a blood tonic as well as to treat colds and coughs. The leaves are also edible. In addition, they are used in the form of a sweat bath and also to treat colds. As aforementioned, the seeds of white sage are used in the form of eye cleaners.

White-sage-cultivation-and-medicinal-uses

 

Several native tribes in America, including the Costanoan, Cahuilla, Kawaiisu, Diegeno, and Maidu of California used the seeds of white sage or chia, as known locally, for cleansing as well as healing their eyes. One means of cleaning the eyes was placing a few white sage seeds inside their eyes at bedtime. These seeds became swollen and gelatinous during the night. While the seeds moved around underneath the eyelids during sleep, they pull together foreign substances, if any, on the eyeballs. The seeds were taken out in the morning, cleaning the eyes and also getting rid of all foreign particles.

For centuries, various native groups have been using the leaves of white sage in the form of hair shampoo, hair straightener, and hair dye. They crushed the leaves in water and applied the water to their hair. In addition, freshly crushed leaves were also used to make a poultice, which was applied to the armpits to get rid of foul odors. They also burnt the leaves and used them in the form of incense to fumigate their homes following the outbreak of infectious ailments like measles.

These native tribes collected the seeds in a flat basket or beater basket. Subsequently, the seeds were dried and pounded into a powdered form for use in meals. In southern California, the Cahuillas used one part of the pounded seeds to blend with three parts wheat flour and a small amount of sugar. This blend was consumed dry, mixed with water in the form of gruel. Alternatively, they baked the powdered seeds into biscuits or cakes.

These tribes harvested the seeds in large quantities and kept them in baskets at home after drying. For instance, the tribes inhabiting north of Santa Barbara stored the dried seeds as well as other foods in small baskets on hand. They especially stored some seeds for the winter, when many other foods were not available. In California, the Chumash, as well as other tribes, also consumed white sage leaves and stems.

Women of the Cahuilla drank an infusion prepared from the roots of white sage after childbirth with a view to getting rid of afterbirth problems as well as support internal healing. Cahuilla people also consumed white sage seeds for treating colds. Similarly, the Diegueno employed the white sage to prepare a tea for curing colds.

These native tribes of America used the white sage leaves in various ways – they smoked the leaves, used them to prepare a herbal tea and also employed the leaves in sweat houses for treating colds. Members of the Diegueno tribe used the leaves of white sage in the form of shampoo to cleanse their hair as well as to prevent them from becoming grey untimely. Some tribes also rubbed the leaves against their body or applied the crushed leaves to their body to get rid of any foul smell. In fact, men of the Cahuilla tribe usually did this prior to venturing out for hunting. They also burnt the dry white sage leaves and the smoke was used in the form of incense during purification rituals. Several native Indian tribes in America hold the white sage in high esteem. This herb is also cherished by many other cultures across the world even to this day. White sage is especially valued for its tender feminine attributes.

White sage is an aromatic herb that has been widely used over the centuries in the form of incense as well as in smudge pots during ceremonies. Hence, this herb is commonly also known as the white ceremonial sage.

Some people also burnt the white sage leaves to fumigate their houses or dwellings following any contagious disease and also for purifying the air during ailments. When drunk in the form of an infusion or tea, white sage offers potent anti-inflammatory properties. White sage tea may also aid in reducing the symptoms of an ulcer.

white-sage-smudge-salvia-apiana

CULINARY USES

White sage seeds are used for culinary purposes, either raw or after cooking. Native American tribes also mixed the seeds with cereals like wheat or oats, toasted them and subsequently ground them into a fine powder for consuming it dry. Alternatively, they also soaked the white sage seeds in water or fruit juice for the night and drunk the liquid or consumed it along with cereals. Sometimes, the seeds were also used in the form of spice. On the other hand, white sage leaves are consumed after cooking. The leaves are also used to add flavor to seed mushes. Often, people also consume the young stalks of white sage raw. The tops of ripened or mature stems are peeled and consumed raw.

Habitat Of White Sage:

Salvia apiana (white sage) is indigenous to a very small region in southern California as well as the northwestern areas of Mexico. This plant has a preference for the conditions found in this dry, coastal region, which has a sloping milieu on the fringe of the desert. The plants need deep watering only once in two weeks, especially when grown in a sandy soil having proper drainage and a sunny location. Although white sage can endure cool climatic conditions, the performance of the plant will be poor when grown in shade and humid conditions and if they are watered excessively. If you are living in areas where frosting is common, you can grow white sage in pots and keep them indoors. It is best to grow the white sage as annual plants in such areas.

White sage hybridizes very easily with other species belonging to the Salvia genus, especially Salvia clevelandii and Salvia leucophylla.

The ideal conditions for growing white sage include a dry climate. In fact, these plants may be killed if the winter months are too wet. Salvia apiana is unable to endure colder climates and, hence, they die. Plants of this species can only tolerate low temperatures in the range of -5°C and -10°C. White sage seeds are available in health food stores and are usually used to prepare beverages – infusion or tea. White sage is an excellent bee plant. Plants belonging to this genus are seldom disturbed by browsing deer.

For commercial purposes, white sage is usually propagated by its seeds, which are ideally sown in a greenhouse during the March-April period. Normally, it takes about two weeks for the seeds to germinate. When the seedlings have grown sufficiently big to be handled, prick them out and plant them in separate pots. You may transfer the young white sage plants to their permanent positions outdoors during the onset of summer next year. In places where the temperatures hover around the endurance levels of white sage, it is advisable that you grow them in a greenhouse throughout their first winter. You may plant them outdoors during the end of spring in the subsequent year.

White sage can also be propagated from semi-mature wood cuttings. These cuttings can be done at any time during the growing season, as they are generally very successful.

Research:

In 1991, scientists at the University of Arizona undertook a study which showed that white sage (Salvia apiana) possesses potential antibacterial qualities, especially against Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus, Candida brassicae and Klebsiella pneumoniae.

Constituents:

White sage contains triterpenes and diterpenes, including oleanolic acid, carnosic acid, and ursolic acid.

Possible Side effects and Precautions:

Although white sage is safe for consumption by most people, this herb should be avoided by women during pregnancy.

Harvesting White Sage:

While harvesting white sage (Salvia apiana) by cutting the stems one needs to be careful to discriminate between the fleshy and woody parts of the stem. Cutting the fleshy top of the white sage stem will produce two stems in the following year. On the other hand, cutting the woody base of the plant will not promote the growth of new leaves or stem. After cutting the stems, hang them upturned to desiccate them and subsequently bundle them in the form of smudge sticks (dried herbs). You may preserve the dry leaves of the herb for preparing tea or, if you prefer, even use them in your food. The seeds can be collected for sowing in the next year. For this, you need to save the brownish fruits, which are akin to nuts, prior to the release of the seeds.

Cardamom Health Benefits

What Is Cardamom

Scientific Name: Elettaria cardamomum

Other Names: Amomum cardamomum, Bai Dou Kou, Black Cardamom, Cardamome de Malabar, Cardamome Noire, , Cardamome Verte, Cardamomo, Cardomom, Cardomomi Fructus, Ela, Elettaria cardamomum, Green Cardamom, Huile Essentielle de Cardamome, Indian Cardamom.

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is a plant that is native to India, Bhutan and Nepal in the ginger family Zingiberaceae, that is highly valued as an expensive culinary spice next only to saffron and vanilla. Cardamom fruits or seeds are primarily used as flavoring for drinks, baked goods, and confection. Cardamom is also valued for its traditional use in herbal medicine, providing health benefits for those suffering from stomach problems, liver, and gallbladder ailments, and as a stimulant. Other species that is closely related to genus Amomum in the ginger family are likewise called cardamom. These cardamom species have larger and darker fruits and have somewhat coarser taste and aroma.

Plant Description

Cardamom (Elletaria cardamomum) is a herbaceous perennial plant usually found in the wild in India and Sri Lanka but has since been cultivated in other tropical areas. Cardamom is a clumping plant of up 20 leafy shoots arising from the rhizome. The shoots are composed of overlapping leaf sheaths, lanceolate in shape with dark green color. The clump of leaves can reach up to 6 meters in height. Some shoots produce flowers on a drooping pinnacle. The flowers are both male and female and are pale green in color. The cardamom fruits are pale green to yellow in color but turns into brown when dried and contains 15 to 20 small aromatic seeds about 3 mm in length which are highly valued as flavoring.

Cardamom, Nutrient value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient Database)
Proximates NV %RDA
Energy 311 Kcal 15.5%
Carbohydrates 68.47 g 52.5%
Protein 10.76 g 19%
Total Fat 6.7 g 23%
Dietary Fiber 28 g 70%
Vitamins

Niacin 1.102 mg 7%
Pyridoxine 0.230 mg 18%
Riboflavin 0.182 mg 14%
Thiamin 0.198 mg 16.5%
Vitamin A 0 IU 0%
Vitamin C 21 mg 35%
Minerals

Calcium 383 mg 38%
Iron 14.0 mg 78%
Magnesium 229 mg 57%
Phosphorus 178 mg 32%
Sodium 18 mg 1%
Zinc 7.5 mg 50%
Copper 0.4 mg 19%
Percent daily values are based on 2000 Kcal diets.

Traditional Health Benefits Of Cardamom

Cardamom being native in South India and Sri Lanka, it has a long history of use in Ayurveda medicine. When the Chinese discovered this spice, it was brought to China and likewise applied in traditional Chinese medicine.

Cardamom has long been used as an effective herbal remedy for digestion problems including intestinal spasms, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, liver and gallbladder complaints.

Other traditional uses and health benefits of Cardamon include the treatment of;

Bronchitis
Cold
Constipation
Cough
Gallbladder problems
Gas
Heartburn
Intestinal spasms
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Liver problems
Loss of appetite
Preventing infections
Sore mouth and throat
Urinary problems

In recent years, claimed health benefits of Cardamom include its strong antioxidant property and an effective body detoxification agent,

Cardamom being rich in minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium maintains cell and body fluids that help control heart rate and blood pressure. It also contains copper and iron that is important in the production of red blood cells.

Cardamom is also rich in vitamins including riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C and contains essential oils that improve overall health.

Cardamom promotes urination that improves kidney function by eliminating excess calcium, urea, and other toxins. It is also used in the treatment of genital and urinary infections. Cardamom is also believed to improve sexual performance.

Other health benefits of cardamom are its use in the treatment of gum problems and in preventing bad breath. It is also used as an antiseptic and antimicrobial.

Scientific Studies Of Cardamom Health Benefits

Blood pressure lowering, fibrinolysis enhancing and antioxidant activities of cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum).The Indigenous Drug Research Center, RNT Medical College, Udaipur, India conducted a study on  Elettaria cardamomum  (Small cardamom) fruit powder  to evaluate its antihypertensive potential and its effect on some of the cardiovascular risk factors in individuals with stage 1 hypertension.
Results have shown that administration of 3 g of cardamom powder to patients with primary hypertension of stage 1 for a period of 12 weeks demonstrated a significantly (p<0.001) decreased systolic, diastolic and mean blood pressure and significantly (p<0.05) increased fibrinolytic activity at the end of 12th week. The total antioxidant status was also significantly (p<0.05) increased by 90% at the end of 3 months.
Additionally, all study subjects experienced a feeling of well-being without any side-effects. Thus, the present study demonstrates that small cardamom effectively reduces blood pressure, enhances fibrinolysis and improves antioxidant status, without significantly altering blood lipids and fibrinogen levels in stage 1 hypertensive individuals. (Indian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics. December 2009).Protective effect of Eleteria cardamomum (L.) Maton against Pan masala induced damage in the lung of male Swiss mice.

In a study conducted in Ranchi University India, the potential ameliorating properties of cardamom Elettaria cardamomum (E. cardamomum) L. Maton against pan masala induced damage in the lung of male Swiss mice was investigated.  Results have shown that the lungs of pan masala treated group showed adenocarcinoma, edema, and inflammation with increased activity of acid phosphatase, alkaline phosphatase, and lactate dehydrogenase. While the deleterious effects were seen to be less in cardamom treated group and the enzymatic activity also decreased significantly (P<0.05) in the ameliorating group. This study suggests that cardamom supplementation may decrease the  damage to the lungs of pan masala treated subjects. (Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine, July 2013)

Chemopreventive effects of cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum L.) on chemically induced skin carcinogenesis in Swiss albino mice.

The potential of cardamom as a chemopreventive agent was investigated in a study done in the College of Health Sciences, University of Hail, Saudi Arabia. The study was done on mice treated orally with 0.5 mg of cardamom powder in suspension continuously at pre-, peri-, and post-initiation stages of papilloma genesis compared with the control group. It was observed that the treatment of cardamom suspension by oral gavage for 15 days resulted in a significant decrease in the lipid peroxidation level of the liver (P < .01). In addition, the reduced glutathione level was significantly elevated in comparison with the control group (P < .05) following cardamom suspension treatment. These findings indicate the potential of cardamom as a chemopreventive agent against two-stage skin cancer (Journal of Medicinal Food, June 2012).

Antioxidative effects of the spice cardamom against non-melanoma skin cancer by modulating nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2 and NF-κB signaling pathways.

Cardamom,  a dietary phytoproduct, has been commonly used in cuisines for flavor and has numerous health benefits, such as improving digestion and stimulating metabolism and having antitumorigenic effects.  A study done in Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute, Kolkata, India, investigated the efficacy of dietary cardamom against 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-induced skin papilloma to genesis in Swiss albino mice that closely resembles human NMSC. Results from the oral administration of cardamom to DMBA-treated mice up-regulated the phase II detoxification enzymes, such as glutathione-S-transferase and glutathione peroxidase, probably via activation of nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2 transcription factor in ‘DMBA+CARD’ mice. Furthermore, reduced glutathione, glutathione reductase, superoxide dismutase and catalase were also up-regulated by cardamom in the same ‘DMBA+CARD’ group of mice compared with DMBA-treated mice. Cardamom ingestion in DMBA-treated mice blocked NF-κB activation and down-regulated cyclo-oxygenase-2 expression. As a consequence, both the size and the number of skin papillomas generated on the skin due to the DMBA treatment were reduced in the ‘DMBA+CARD’ group. Thus, the results of the study suggest that cardamom has a potential to become a pivotal chemopreventive agent to prevent papilloma genesis on the skin (British Journal of Nutrition, Sept 2012)

Gut modulatory, blood pressure lowering, diuretic and sedative activities of cardamom.

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is traditionally used in various gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and neuronal disorders.
A study done in the Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan have using Cardamom crude extract in guinea-pig, mice and rabbits suggested that  cardamom exhibits gut excitatory and inhibitory effects mediated through cholinergic and Ca++ antagonist mechanisms respectively and lowers BP via a combination of both pathways. The diuretic and sedative effects may offer added value in its use in hypertension and epilepsy. (Journal of Ethnopharmacology, February 2008).

Cardamom extract as an inhibitor of human platelet aggregation.

The Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition, Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore, India, investigated the protective effects of cardamom extract against platelet aggregation and lipid peroxidation.  In the study, a sample from the blood of healthy volunteers was taken and the platelets were subjected to stimulation with a variety of agonists including ADP, epinephrine, collagen, calcium ionophore and ristocetin.  Results have shown that the inhibitory effects of cardamom against lipid peroxidation and platelet aggregation were dose dependent and time dependent and an increase in the concentration of the aqueous extract of cardamom results to significant decreased MDA formation.(Phytotheraphy Research, May 2005)

Allergic contact dermatitis from cardamom.

Cardamom is a popular traditional flavoring agent for baked goods and confectionery.  A case is presented of a confectioner with a chronic hand dermatitis and positive patch test reactions to cardamom and certain terpenoid compounds present in the dried ripe seeds of cardamom. Dermatitis from skin exposure to cardamom has to the best of our knowledge not been reported.

Cardamom Side Effects And Warnings

Cardamom may be considered safe for most people in food amounts and there were no reported side effects from its consumption.

Cardamom is considered safe for use by pregnant and breastfeeding mothers if taken in food amounts. But caution should be taken if to be taken in large doses as there are no sufficient studies that determine its full effects.

Large doses of cardamom have been found to trigger gallstone colic that causes spasmodic pain.

Cardamom may trigger an allergic reaction for sensitive people. Severe side effects include difficulty in breathing, hive, swelling of skin and heaviness of chest.

Cardamom Availability And Preparation

Where To Buy Cardamom

Cardamom comes in several forms depending upon how the cardamom seed pods are treated. Cardamom is usually available in most grocery stores along with the other spices;

Green cardamom pods are the preferred form of this spice in its native country, India. This fancier cardamom has been picked while still immature and sun-dried to preserve its bright green color. Green cardamom pods are harder to find and more expensive than the other forms of cardamom in part because of their superior ability to retain aroma and flavor longer. This premium form of cardamom is all connoisseurs will use in any recipe which calls for cardamom.

Cardamom seed has had the outer pod, or cardamom fruit, removed so that only the pure seeds remain. This form of cardamom spice is sometimes called cardamom-decort, which simply means the seeds have been removed from the pods or hulled. The seeds are crushed or ground prior to use, which provides plenty of cardamom flavor at a more economical price, substitute 12 seeds for every whole pod called for in a recipe.

Black cardamom is the seed pods of closely related species that also are aromatic and have an appearance similar to that of true cardamom. Although, black cardamom is not a suitable substitute in recipes that call for cardamom. Its flavor is much earthier with sweetness and a flowery accent that is different from that of true cardamoms. It is an ingredient used in some African cooking and abroad to add a bacon-like a flavor to some vegetarian dishes.

Ground cardamom is convenient to have for baking and other applications where the spice needs to be ground. Freshness and thus flavor are of course compromised when cardamom is pre-ground because it loses flavor soon after grinding. To appreciate cardamom’s true flavor we suggest grinding it before use in a spice mill, electric coffee grinder, or mortar and pestle.

White cardamom that was commonly available in the North America and Europe had been bleached to achieve its color or lack of it. It is used in baking and some desserts because its color helps keep light colored batters, sauces, and confections speck free. The bleaching process also destroyed much of the cardamom’s flavor leading to white cardamom’s decline in popularity.

Cardamom – The Queen of Spices

My favorite spice in the house!

Cardamom is the Queen of Spices and has grown lavishly under the tropical canopy on hillsides in the Ghat Mountains on the Malabar Coast of southern India to be harvested by hand and shipped around the world.  The cardamom familiar to India and the western world is called green cardamom and it, along with several other types such as giant cardamom, black cardamom, and bastard cardamom, have been used for cooking, perfumery, incense, and medicine since very early in history.

cardamom lotion

Ancient Egyptians used it frequently for perfume along with frankincense, myrrh, cinnamon and cassia, and had a recipe for an ointment called “Oil of Lilies” that included the scent from 1000 lilies. It is often mentioned as one of the ingredients of the ancient incense kyphi. Cardamom essential oil is one of the oldest essential oils known in perfumery and in the apothecary. Cardamom  is the third most expensive spice after saffron and vanilla.

Why is cardamom called the Queen of the Spices? Maybe it is its association with queens. The large-leaved plant with purple and white flowers had a place in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The terraced garden was built by King Nebuchadnezzar for his wife who was homesick. Cleopatra burnt cardamom incense whenever Mark Antony visited.

Eletteria cardamomum is the popular green cardamom and has an exotic aroma with warm, spicy and highly aromatic nuances.  There is an initial sharp camphor note, somewhat like eucalyptus, that quickly evolves to a sweet, spicy-woody, balsamic scent that can have lovely floral tones.  It can be long-lasting in a blend and must be used with skill so that it doesn’t overwhelm a perfume or add too much sharpness. The warmth and sweetness of cardamom can provide a lovely backdrop to floral perfumes such as muguet and rose scents. It also warms Oriental perfume bases and is used in the heart notes of chypres perfumes. Although it is called the Queen of Spices, it is a favorite ingredient in masculine scents. Cardamom is available as an essential oil but there is also a solvent-extracted absolute and a CO2 extraction.

cardamom aromatherapyIn the company of the King of Spices, black pepper, cardamom was an important commodity of the early spice trade that also transported frankincense, myrrh and other resins and precious aromatics. Caravans with as many as 4,000 camels would carry treasures of the East in the form of spices to markets in Babylon, Carthage, Alexandria, and Rome.  Later traders would sail ships along the Indian Coast and through the Red Sea into Egypt and thus through the rest of the world. The Spice Route was second in importance only to the Silk Road and the spices it transported were often as valuable, or more so than gold or precious metals. In addition to Arab and Portuguese traders, the Vikings discovered cardamom on one of their raids and brought it back to Scandinavia where they enjoyed it in festival cakes.  According to The Economist the spice trade, founded on spices like black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger, has been the foundation of the world economy’s oldest, deepest, and most aromatic roots.

Cardamom plants require very warm and humid climates and are perfect understory plants for humid mountainsides. As a member of the Ginger family, they also have tall leaves, thick rhizomes, and a unique flower. The flower stalk or panicle comes out from the base of the plant and in the Malabar variety will grow along the ground but there is also a Mysore variety that has vertical panicles. Cardamom plants will bear seeds in pods clustered near the ground and continue bearing for 10-15 years. The seeds need to be gathered at exactly the right time, if too early the pods will shrivel and if too late they will shatter. They are then dried, traditionally in the sun but sometimes by fire or in traditional hot houses. The pods are naturally green and, if dried correctly, will retain a green color.  However, some markets prefer a light colored pod and producers will bleach cardamom pods to achieve a creamy or golden yellow color to the husk. Outside of India and Asia, Guatemala is a big producer of much of the world’s cardamom.

cardamom cakeThe Queen of Spices is best used in sweet dishes such as pastries, cakes, and baked goods; however it is often used in some meat dishes and curries where the spices are mild. It’s an important ingredient in the spice mix garam masala.  There is a Bedouin coffee called Gahwah that is made with freshly crushed green pods and often combined with mace, nutmeg, and/or saffron. In many Arabic countries, cardamom is symbolic of welcoming (traditionally male) guests; there is a ritual to making the coffee and  cardamom is closely associated with hospitality. The green coffee beans are first roasted and powdered with mortar and pestle then the cardamom pods are broken and dropped into the pot with the coffee.  Often the blend may be as much as half cardamom and half coffee or more.  Its common use with coffee in hot climates reflects the belief in the cooling properties of the spice. It is believed that Arabs consume one-half of the world’s cardamom annually.

Cardamom is frequently used to aid in digestion, and is often consumed after a meal as a breath freshener and digestive aid; it may even prevent tooth decay . The seeds have a distinctive tingling feel on the tongue when chewed and a tenacious sweet aroma.  Many people chew cardamom to freshen the breath and, in Sweden, it is thought to mask the residual aroma of too many alcoholic drinks. It’s used in over 30 traditional Chinese medicines and is a famous Ayurveda medicinal plant for digestive disorders, for detoxifying, stimulating the senses and may benefit those suffering from asthma or bronchitis.

It is called Ela “golden grains of paradise” in Sanskrit and is mentioned in ancient Sanskrit texts,  as well as during the Vedic period (about 3000 BC). Cardamom has been used for thousands of years for its sexual powers. It is known in many cultures to have aphrodisiac properties and is included in the ingredients to be poured in “the sacrificial fire on the occasion of a Hindu marriage ceremony.” Asian cultures use cardamom as nature’s Viagra- to cure impotency and premature ejaculation.

The 1001 Arabian Nights makes frequent reference to cardamom’s use as an aphrodisiac.One might associate it with Venus but it is more closely allied with Mars due to its warming and stimulating effect.   But it is Mars exhibiting a lighter, feminine side with sweet heat.  It is frequently found in women’s love charms, or perhaps more accurately ‘lust charms’. Ancient Romans used cardamom to stimulate desire.  Does cardamom sweeten the words of love and soften the heart of the other?  Add some cardamom spice to your life and find out!

Cardamom Tea

Cardamom has many health benefits from detoxification, oral health, digestion. Usually, it’s the seeds in the cardamom pods that hold flavor and you can remove the seeds and then blend to have a powder, but I felt that using the pods/ shells reduces the work, later you can sieve it to get a fine powder.
cardamom tea
HOW TO MAKE CARDAMOM POWDER

Prep time – 10 mins
Makes – 1 and 1/4 cup cardamom powder
Storing suggestion – in an air-tight container at room temperature

Ingredients

Cardamom seeds- 1/2 cup
Sugar – 3/4 Th cup

Method

Using a mixer blend the sugar and cardamom pods for 3-4 minutes giving an interval of 30 seconds every minute. This is to avoid the mixer becoming really hot. later sieve this powder to grind again, let it cool down completely. Store in an air-tight container and use as and when required.


HOW TO MAKE CARDAMOM TEA/ ELACHI CHAI / YELLAKAI TEA

Ingredients

Tea powder – 3 teaspoons ( I used Taj Mahal Gold)
Water – 1/2 cup
Cardamom powder – 1 tsp
Milk – 1 and 12 cup
Sugar – 3 tsp (as required)

Method

In a saucepan bring water to a boil, add tea powder and let it boil further for a minute, now add milk, let it boil, add the sugar and cardamom powder and switch off

Serve hot along with crisps or snacks

Cooks Wisdom

  • You can remove the shells of the cardamom and use only the seeds to make a fine powder
  • Tea can be made with boiling tea powder in milk or with water and then adding milk. Since I used full-fat milk I used water to make the tea
  • Store the cardamom powder in a moisture free air tight jar for long life.

Ginger {Zingiber officinale}

Also, Known As:

  • African Ginger
  • Ardraka
  • Black Ginger
  • Chiang
  • Gan-jiang
  • Ginger
  • Nagara
  • Race Ginger
  • Shen-jiang
  • Sunthi
Zingiber officinale, the official name of the common ginger was coined by the famous eighteenth-century Swedish botanist and general naturalist, Carl Linnaeus. While Latinizing the name, Carl Linnaeus also derived the name Zingiber for the generic term, using the Indian Sanskrit name for ginger – singabera, or shaped like a horn.
About 1,400 species of plants are placed in the family Zingiberaceae and the ginger is just another of these plants. It shares equal honors with other famous family members, the spices turmeric – which is a principal component used in curry; it is also an herbal medicine – and the spice cardamom – used extensively in South Asian cuisine. The ginger has a slender stem; ginger is a perennial plant, about 24 to 39 inches in height. Compared to the second and following stems, the first stems are lengthier and also bear beautiful and fragrant flowers. The ginger flowers are greenish yellow and streaked with purple down the sides. Dark green ginger leaves are characterized by a famous midrib that is sheathed at the growing base. The seeds of the ginger appear in the rare fruiting body.
The underground stem of the ginger is the most familiar part of the plant and it is extensively used for commercial as well as domestic purposes. Often mistakenly called the root of the ginger, the irregular shape and size of the underground section of the stem is the most important part of this herb – the plant stores food reserves in this underground stem. The botanically correct term to apply to the underground stem is rhizome, even if the ginger will probably always be associated with the term root by common people. Whole new ginger plants can self generate from budded sections, and property of the rhizome is very different to a root, which will die if split into sections. Cultivation of the ginger has been made possible by these buds in the rhizome and the plant has been cultivated in this way for thousands of years. The habitat most suited to the cultivation of ginger is one with a hot and moist climate with some shade; ginger also prefers soil that is well tilled and rich in loam. The rhizome is white to yellow in color and bears thick lobes – it is also very aromatic, a property used in culinary and herbal processes. An unusual exception to this mild color range is one ginger variety, which has a characteristic blue ring, lying in circles inside the fleshy interior – this is one of the most prized varieties of ginger.
ginger parts
Today, the ginger is the most widely cultivated spice around the world. A lot of countries and regions cultivate this spice and different opinions exists as to who grows the best ginger. Any favoritism of a particular variety of ginger is purely a matter of personal taste, as the ginger appears in countless varieties, shapes and sizes, India alone is said to have an estimated fifty varieties of this versatile herb. Depending on the conditions of the soil and the manner of its cultivation’s, each and every variety of the ginger possesses its own distinctive flavor and aroma. Africa is reputedly the home of the most pungent ginger, while the milder varieties are grown mainly in China. The general agreements is that culinary applications will likely use milder ginger varieties, while the stronger and more pungent varieties are best to prepare ginger beverages and for use in therapeutic herbal remedies.
Oral anti-coagulants are normally prescribed to individuals who suffer from frequent blood clots to help keep their blood free from clots. The compound known as warfarin sodium commonly called coumadin, is one of the most frequently used medications in this regard. This compound is also a potent rat poison and taking it in high doses can cause serious internal hemorrhages in the body, especially if it is used over an extended period of time by the person. The ideal substitute for these synthetic blood thinners is ginger root, which can replace the role of this compound in the body. At least some individuals suffering from such problems who took an average of two herbal ginger capsules two times a day in between meals appears to have benefited.

Plant Parts Used:

Rhizome, root, essential oil.

Ginger Tea for Women:

This ginger tea is extraordinarily healing for all female organs and the intestines, as well as for stressed nerves and a sluggish metabolism.
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger
  • 1 cups (1/4 l) water
  • 2 cups (1/2 l) milk
Peel the ginger and grate or slice very fine. Simmer very slowly for about 20 minutes in the water. Now add up to 2 cups (1/2 l) milk and let it boil up. Remove from the heat and sweeten with honey or cane sugar. Ginger tea is best consumed in small sips over the course of the day, as required. In the morning and before meals it stimulates digestion; on cold winter afternoons it warms and protects from the flu. Many women take the tea after miscarriages or abdominal surgery, to promote the healing of the uterus.
Ginger tea is so effective against ailments of the reproductive and digestive systems because it stimulates circulation and supports a good blood supply to these organs. Bloating can be treated with this tea, by adding a pinch of cinnamon. In the presence of stomach ulcers, however, modest amounts of this tea are recommended and the quantity of ginger can be cut down. Similarly, in the early weeks of pregnancy, the further stimulation of blood flow into the abdomen is not recommended, so go easy on ginger at this time. Modest amounts, however, are a great remedy for morning sickness.

Candied Ginger:

  • 1 lb. fresh ginger root
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
Pare the root and cut into long narrow slices, across the grain. Cover with about 1 1/2 cups cold water in a saucepan and heat to boiling. Simmer 5 minutes, drain and cover with cold water again. Heat to boiling, simmers 5 minutes more. Drain. Dry well.
Combine granulated sugar and 1 cup of water in a small kettle. Boil 10 minutes. Add the ginger slices and cook over very low heat. Do not boil. Stir, and cook until all the syrup is absorbed, about 40 minutes. Remove the ginger, and dry on a rack.
Roll the cooled ginger in superfine sugar, and let it stand in the sugar until it has crystallized.

Lamb’s Quarter

Lambs quarter is one of the most common weeds in gardens, backyards, and fallow fields, following human habitation closely. If you add horse or cow manure to your garden you will have a steady supply of these tasty wild greens for most of spring and summer. Easy to recognize with its alternate, triangle-to-diamond shaped leaves which are coated on the underside with a whitish gray powdery meal resembling flour. This coating may sometimes possess a coppery-fuchsia sheen and is sold as a cultivar called “magenta spreen” in some garden catalogs. The coating is a natural part of the leaf and is fine to eat. Put a leaf under water and the meal will cause the water to bead up in a beautiful iridescent fashion. Lamb’s quarter grows to 3-5 feet and is a branching annual with a grooved stem which is often tinged with red, especially at the node, or leaf joint.

 Chenopodium album, the scientific name of Lambs quarter, translates to white goosefoot and refers to both the white mealy covering and the leaves resemblance to the webbed foot of a goose. In the same family as quinoa, beets, spinach and chard, (the Chenopodiaceae), Lamb’s-quarter has been eaten in Europe and Asia since Neolithic times as evidenced by the seeds presence in archeological digs. Native to Eurasia, lambs quarter quickly followed the European settlers and was incorporated into the diets of the Native peoples of the Americas. Currently eaten in Japan, South Africa, Europe and the Americas, this cosmopolitan weed is appreciated by many cultures palates.  Its English name, fat hen, and its country name, pigweed, both refer to its use as a food for animals. (The name pigweed is also used for wild Amaranth – another common edible garden weed) There are several explanations for the origins of lambs- quarter’s name. One hypothesis is that the shape of the leaf is reminiscent of a cut of lamb meat, the quarter. Another theory is that a close relative of Lambs quarter, orache, was an integral part of the pagan harvest celebration on the first of August -Lammas Quarter.

The tender top two inches are picked and steamed, sautéed or added to soups and have a flavor similar to its close relative, spinach. I like to make a tofu quiche every spring from the tender tops of nettles, wild amaranth, and lambs-quarters. Rich in Vitamins A, C, B1 and B2; iron and protein, this nutrient dense green is worth letting be in the garden where it is not out-competing planted vegetables. I often let it grow in between tomatoes, okra or peppers when they are still young and don’t need as much space and pull the lambs –quarter as the veggies fill out. Lambs quarter requires no cultivation and is relatively disease and insect free. Compare this to many of our cooking greens in the mustard family such as collards and kale which require vigilant bug protection in the southeast. As I write this article my mustard family greens are riddled with holes from the flea beetle and the edible weeds such as lambs quarter are showing no signs of damage from the beetles, nor the drought. Rethinking our current cultures agriculture and culinary paradigms, we can adapt our tastes to the relative ease and nutrition of our weeds.

One last note about lambs quarter: like its close relatives spinach and chard, it contains oxalates and should be consumed lightly if a person has kidney stones, kidney disease or gout. If the diet is varied with many different vegetables, the oxalates are not a problem. Also, remember to never pick any wild greens close to a road or in heavily sprayed fields as the plants may accumulate heavy metals or toxic amounts of nitrates in these situations.

Some years ago I thought to bring some of my favorite wild edibles to the farmers market where we were selling organically grown vegetables. I set out pretty baskets filled with tidy bundles of pigweed (Amaranthus sp.), purslane (Portulaca oleracea) and Lambs quarter accompanied by little signs explaining the preparation and nutritional value of these tasty greens. I also thought a yummy sample of the greens would inspire people to move beyond any fears of eating an unknown vegetable, especially a “weed”. As it turns out we did not develop a wild following or even a tiny demand for our weeds, but people went crazy for the sample – wild greens pate. We ended up selling just as much wild greens pate as fresh salsa and pesto. Wild greens pate freezes well and works well where ever you would use pesto – tossed over veggies and pasta, as a base to a green or white pizza (no marinara) or as a dip for crackers, raw carrots, and celery. Last week I made delicious green lasagna with wild greens pate and added more steamed lambs quarters instead of the traditional spinach.

Happy foraging and may your gardens be bountiful!

Wild Greens Pate

  • Sautee 3 chopped cloves of garlic in extra virgin olive oil for a few minutes in a deep pot
  • Add the washed tender tops of purslane, lamb’s quarters and pigweed (about 7 big handfuls)
  • Saute until tender and add tamari or soy sauce to taste
  • Blend in a blender or food processor with more olive oil, nutritional yeast and your choice of raw nuts
  • Be creative with your ingredients – miso, freshly grated parmesan cheese and raw garlic are just some of the many ways you can put a little twist on this recipe.
  • Note: This recipe is still delicious even if you only have one of these wild greens. Nettles and lady’s thumbs are other wild greens which blend well with lambs quarters.

The Antioxidants – Free-Radical Fighters

Antioxidants are basically a specific type of molecules that protect our body from the damages caused by the detrimental free radicals. Precisely speaking, antioxidants work as defenses against the disparaging actions of free radicals produced by our body during different processes. In this article we shall concentrate on the four major antioxidant nutrients – vitamin C, vitamin E,  beta carotene and selenium, as well as other natural antioxidants which show the maximum potential for the medical treatment.

The expression ‘antioxidant’ may appear to be somewhat complex, but, in reality, it is very easy to comprehend. While the prefix ‘Anti’ denotes ‘against’, the word ‘oxidant’ refers to reactive substances which accept electrons from other substances, which is, free radicals.

The term ‘oxidant’ has been derived from the word ‘oxygen’. When you allow oils and meat to remain outside for a prolonged period, they start decomposing. In fact, oxidants are involved in the rancidity of these substances by means of a process known as oxidation. Precisely speaking, oxidation occurs when oxygen reacts with proteins and fatty acids to develop into free radicals, which are eventually responsible for decay. Another instance of oxidation is rusting, which is a reaction between oxygen and iron forming a fragile, peeling substance known as ferrous oxide or rust. Therefore, all things such as oxidation, decay, decomposition and burning express similar things – in brief, destruction caused by free radicals.

In effect, awareness regarding free radicals started as late as in the 1930’s. This came to the light for the first time when a chemist at the Rockefeller Institute of the United States, Leonor Micaelis was perplexed over the cause of oils turning stale. In those days, the findings of Leonor were stimulating and they prompted great interest in the functions of the free radicals in our every day lives.

Consequently, antioxidants combat the harmful oxidation by means of counteracting the free radicals, which are responsible for the damages. It may be noted that the electron in a free radical does not occur in a pair and steals the missing electron from a normal molecule, making it a free radical. This is an unending process. In such a situation, an antioxidant actually supplies the mislaid electron or takes away the additional electron with a view to make the free radical stable. Subsequently, the antioxidant turns into a free radical, but its structure is such that it is several times less volatile and does not harm the other normal molecules. Unlike in the case of free radicals, the process of stealing or donating electrons stops when an antioxidant stabilizes a free radical. Additional biochemical developments only help to make the antioxidant process comprehensive, thereby, turning off a free radical unharmed.

In fact, the similarity of a nail lying on a freeway may also be useful in describing the manner in which antioxidants work. Provided the sweeper has been successful in removing the nail from the highway prior to a car running over the piece of metal, it would help in avoiding much damage. Alternately, provided the tires of the car are shielded with impassable coatings, the nail would not be able to cause a puncture even if the car runs over it. On the other hand, if the nail remains on the highway and any car with ordinary tires run over it, there will be considerable damage. For that reason, the antioxidants work like the highway sweeper or the impenetrable seals on the tires and put off any possible damage.

There are several different types of antioxidants within our body that protect us from ailments and other health problems. These antioxidants may comprise nutrients, amino acids, enzymes, proteins as well as other bio-chemicals.

Antioxidant Enzymes

antioxidant-rich-foodsEnzymes that function as antioxidants are produced within our body. These enzymes set off the developments those eventually guide the unnecessary, detrimental vigor of the free radicals to engender undamaging substances like water as well as regular oxygen. Primarily, there are three such enzymes, which include catalase, glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase.

The enzymes mentioned above are produced as well as work as antioxidants in majority of the cells in our body. In all respects, these enzymes are a part of ourselves. In the absence of the defending actions we would factually become flawed very easily. One of the reasons why dead flesh decomposes so rapidly is that these enzymes neither exist nor function in the dead cells of the dead flesh.

More often than not, the body responds to the existence of more free radicals by augmenting the production of enzymes that function as antioxidants within our body. An ideal example of this is the skilled athletes who, in comparison to majority of the people, generally possess elevated levels of these enzymes. Their bodies are attuned to tackle with the increased free radicals produced due to enhanced metabolism of arduous work outs.

On the other hand, the pressure and tensions of contemporary way of life coupled with the toxic side-effects of technology have augmented the burden of free radicals that we all have got to cope with. In fact, the preceding generations were not afflicted by problems like air pollution,pesticides, industrial wastes as well as deposits of herbicides and several other sources that generate free radicals. Therefore, the aptitude of our body to produce adequate amounts of enzymes that function as antioxidants is likely to be under pressure and may perhaps turn out to be deficient.

Other Antioxidants

In addition to the antioxidant enzymes, there are also different other categories of antioxidant substances. There are a number of artificial or man-made antioxidants, including butylated hydroxyanisole (BRA), dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), which are employed in the form of pharmaceutical agents as well as food additives. Additional normal antioxidants comprise amino acids containing sulfur and proteins, for instance, glutathione and cysteine, uric acid as well as several substances that are obtained from herbs.

Antioxidant Nutrients

Majority of the clinical trials make use of antioxidant nutrients for the purpose of human supplementation since they are not only most useful, but also inexpensive options. Among the various antioxidant nutrients the ones that are most useful in neutralizing free radicals are vitamin C, beta carotene (provitamin A), vitamin E and the vital trace mineral selenium.

Different from the enzymes that function as antioxidants, our body is unable to produce the antioxidant nutrients. Instead, the foods we ingest, such as vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts and whole grains, supply these antioxidant nutrients in sufficient amounts. When these antioxidant nutrients are soaked up by the body during the digestive process, they pass through the bloodstream and concentrate in every cell as well as organ of our body with a view to combat free radicals. While they continue to extinguish the free radicals, the antioxidant nutrients become inactive, while some of them may possibly be reactivated later, and are ultimately removed from the body. As a consequence, it is necessary to continuously reload antioxidant nutrients by means of taking healthy diets. This is something akin to calories which need to be replenished all the time to keep up the energy levels.

It may be noted that the antioxidant nutrients work in harmony like a team to douse the free radicals. Time and again, the antioxidant nutrients also work in combination with additional categories of antioxidants, for instance the enzymes or synthetic antioxidants. It is worth mentioning here that no antioxidant functions in seclusion, but every one of them is an element of complicated biochemical series, something akin to the bucket brigades organized to extinguish the ‘fires’ attributable to the harmful free radicals. Simultaneously, all antioxidants possess a distinctive chemical arrangement as well as character, and they work in several specific functions, besides those performed as antioxidants.

The Best Antioxidant-Rich Foods

berriesBesides being refreshingly sweet, several types of berries, for instance, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, provide us with plenty of antioxidants. Precisely speaking, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries enclose high amounts of proanthocyanidins – antioxidants that possess the aptitude to put off cancer as well as heart ailments. You may consume them in a drink in the morning, blend some on top of yogurt or cereal you eat in the morning or take delight in them in the form of a snack during the afternoon.

Among all the nourishing vegetables available, broccoli surely is the best, as this cruciferous vegetable encloses far more vitamin C compared to an orange, which the calcium content of broccoli is more in comparison to a glass of milk. Apart from being loaded with vitamins and minerals, broccoli is also packed with chemicals called phytonutrients that help us to combat numerous diseases. Broccoli also encloses another chemical called sulforaphane, which has been found to diminish the chances of developing several types of cancers. You may consume broccoli by steaming or boiling it. Alternately, you may also season broccoli using salsa or lemon to prepare a delectable side dish. In fact, broccoli is a powerhouse of several nutrients and it goes extremely well with salads, omelettes or even stir-fries.

People throughout the world use garlic in the form of a appetizing seasoning agent for almost all types of dishes. In fact, garlic offers numerous health benefits and these have been publicized in different countries for several centuries. For instance, people have been traditionally using raw garlic in the form of a natural antibiotic to eliminate various strains of dangerous bacteria. In addition, garlic is also employed to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, get rid of heavy metals from our body, and also put off the chances of developing cancer. Garlic also functions in the form of an antiviral as well as antifungal agent. It may be noted that a solitary garlic clove encloses vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, potassium,iodine, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium.

Green tea is another important antioxidant, which has elevated levels of compounds called catechin polyphenols. Green tea is also known to facilitate weight loss. Within the body, these compounds work in conjunction with other chemicals to intensify the levels of fat oxidation as well as thermogenesis – a condition formed within the body by burning fat in the form of a fuel. Normally, one ought to try to consume at least three cups (750 ml) of green tea every day with a view to lose the extra pounds. In addition, it has also been found that green tea works to thwart the possibilities of developing cancer, heart ailments as well as high blood cholesterol.

Tomatoes are also very potent antioxidants. Tomatoes enclose a potent anti-cancer agent called lycopene. Findings of several studies have revealed that in comparison to beta carotene and vitamin E, lycopene, which is present in abundance in tomatoes, is more potent in combating diseases. It may be noted that presence of fat is essential for lycopene to ensure optimum absorption. Hence, when you put the nutritious fat olive oil in spaghetti sauce, it works excellently to augment the lycopene levels in the body. You may begin by incorporating additional tomatoes in your diet in various forms – whole, sliced, stewed, canned, sauced tomato or tomato paste.

Besides the antioxidant-foods mentioned here, there are several others, including spinach, red grapes, carrots and whole grains. Each of these foods contains as well as provides us with abundance of antioxidants.

Garlic {Allium sativum}

ALSO, KNOWN AS:

  • Clove Garlic
  • Da Suan
  • Garlic
  • Poor-man’s-treacle
  • Rashona
  • Rustic’s Treacle
  • Stinking Rose
  • Tricolor Garlic
The common kitchen herb, the garlic – Allium Sativum to botanists – is a familiar herb and culinary spice. This perennial herb is known for its white colored bulb that is composed of small white cloves that have a very peculiar odor and tangy taste. The various forms of sulfur compounds found inside each clove are responsible for the unique smell of the garlic. The smell of the garlic is of much renown and has attracted a lot of commentaries. At different times throughout history, it has been said that the garlic is “a herb that only the prince of hell himself could enjoy the aroma of full time with nary a complaint.” This distinct smell is due to the heavy accumulation of the rather smelly sulfur compounds in the underground storage bulb of the herb. The garlic is used widely as a vegetable as well as in herbal medicine.
The garlic plant itself is not a remarkable herb on first sight, growing about two feet tall with flat, long, and pointed leaves – the main repute of the garlic lies in its underground storage bulb. The herb bears flowers in mid summer and the colors of the flowers can range from pink to white in different varieties. Garlic flowers are edible and are consumed in many places. The garlic plant comes in many varieties and cultivars – each with its distinct characteristics. The American or California garlic varieties come in many large and white skinned types. There are also early and late cultivars of the garlic that can be grown at suitable times. Garlic varieties with pinkish or purple skinned bulbs are variously known as the Chilean, the Creole, the Mexican or the Italian type. While it seems to grow best in dry and mild climatic regions, the garlic grows rather well in most places in the continental United States and is much naturalized in this country. The bulbs of most garlic varieties that are grown in northern climates are not large due to the shorter growing seasons. A relative of the garlic called the “elephant garlic” – A. ampeloprasum to botanists – develops prodigious heads or bulbs, each with four to six large cloves and each of these bulbs can often reach the size of an orange fruit.
The herb is known as the “Rocambole “- A. sativum var. ophioscorodon to botanists – is yet one more garlic like the plant that is sometimes grown by garlic aficionados of the world. This particular herb is also known by many other names including the Italian or the French garlic and has a rather striking appearance. This herb has numerous flat leaves like those of the garlic chives plant – A. tuberose – that tend to appear in the spring, it also bears looped flower stalks in the summer months. The variety of garlic has a “floral head” that opens to reveal the presence of a cluster of bulbils inside the bulb instead of flowers as in other garlic varieties. The “rocambole” is entirely edible and all parts of the plant are consumed. The bulbs produced by this variety are also harvested like regular garlic bulbs and used for culinary ends. French or Italian garlic is a good crop to grow for other reasons not connected to culinary uses alone, according to people who have cultivated it. One major reason cited by these cultivators is that the bulbs of this variety of garlic tend to keep very well and are easy to store. The other reason is that the cloves on the bulb are a lot easier to peel off. The final reason given is that the distinct flavor of this variety of garlic is quite good compared to other varieties of garlic. Though seldom offered as a seed plant in nurseries, the ‘rocambole” is readily available through some mail-order seed houses.
The garlic herb is an effective herbal remedy to treat viral, bacterial, fungal, and other parasitic infections in the body. A compound released by crushed raw garlic called allicin is known to be much more potent as an antibiotic than the common antibiotics such as penicillin and tetracycline used in most standard medical regimens. Remedies made from the garlic are usually employed in treating problems such as chronic sore throats, common colds, flu, infections in the bronchial and general pulmonary systems, to treat infections of the gut and also to help reestablish the natural populations of beneficial bacteria in the gut – these helpful bacteria in the gut are often eliminated during an infection or on the use of orthodox antibiotic treatments to treat infections. The remedies made from the garlic are also effective and potent for treating intestinal worms as well as problems such as candidiasis. Garlic remedies can also be used topically to treat thrush affecting the mouth or the vaginal cavity. The general rate of digestion is improved by garlic; the herb also helps alleviate excessive gas and abdominal distension in the body. The remedies made from the garlic also help boost the rate at which food is absorbed and assimilated in the intestines. Garlic is also a good remedy for blood sugar related problems in diabetics as the herb boosts the secretion of insulin in the pancreas – thus helping the body better regulate sugar levels.
The remedy made from the garlic also has a decongestant action and is very useful in treating problems affecting the respiratory passages. At the same time, the expectorant action of the garlic remedy is excellent for treating acute and chronic bronchitis, to treat a whooping cough as well as bronchial asthma, it is also effective in treating sinusitis, in the treatment of chronic catarrh, in the treatment of hay fever and rhinitis and other allergen-induced complaints. Fevers can be alleviated by consuming garlic – the herb induces perspiration in the body and this helps in lowering the elevated body temperature. Elevated blood cholesterol levels are also lowered to a significant degree on consuming garlic regularly. The elevated blood pressure in the body and the tendency to form clots is also lowered by garlic – this effect of the herb is helpful in the prevention of heart attacks and strokes in susceptible patients. The blood vessels in the body are also opened up and dilated by the action of garlic – this action results in an increase in the flow of blood to different tissues in the body, thereby improving the general circulation. The beneficial action of garlic helps relieve cramps and alleviates general circulatory disorders affecting a person. The evidence from recent clinical research points out that garlic can act as potent anti-carcinogen and possesses strong anti-tumor properties, due to the fact that it is a powerful antioxidant by virtue of the numerous sulfur compounds found in it. Garlic is also believed to help the body deal better with the effects of nicotine and pollution, helping protect the body against the destructive effects of such long-term exposure to irritants.

PLANT PART USED:

Cloves.

COMMON USE:

Since very early in human history, the garlic has held an esteemed position among common herbs due to its healing powers and its use as a spice. The garlic was used to treat all kinds of infections, ranging from diseases like tuberculosis to typhoid fever before the development of antibiotic drugs. In fact, the garlic was used as a remedy for wounds till quite recent times and the herb was often employed to dress the wounds sustained by soldiers fighting during the World War I.
All kinds of infections affecting the chest can be treating using the garlic as the primary herbal remedy. The remedy made from the garlic is good for the treatment of common colds and flu, as well as in treating ear infections, and as an herbal aid in reducing the amount of mucus produced in the nasal passages. The garlic remedy is also effective in treating infections of the digestive system. This herbal remedy is also the treatment of choice to rid the body of all kinds of intestinal parasites and pathogens. As human blood is thinned by the garlic, it actively helps in preventing the onset of many dangerous circulatory problems and keeps the chance of strokes at bay. Elevated cholesterol levels and high blood pressure affecting a person is also lowered on treatment with garlic remedy.
OTHER MEDICAL USES
  • The remedy made from the garlic is employed as a general remedy for treating all kinds of infections. The herbal remedy can also be used with conventional antibiotics to help support their biochemical action and to ward off the side effects of strong drugs. In addition, the garlic benefits people affected by the late onset of diabetes as it tends to keep blood sugar levels in check at all times
  • Abscess
  • Altitude sickness
  • Aneurysm
  • Breast cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Glue ear
  • Hantavirus
  • High Triglycerides (TGs)
  • Septicemia
  • Strep throat
  • Stomach cancer
  • Thrombophlebitis
  • Toxic shock syndrome
  • Viral Infection
  • Xanthomatosis
CULINARY USES:
Many dishes contain garlic as an essential seasoning. Garlic used in the preparation of food may be fresh, dried, or freshly ground. Garlic helps in increasing the flavor of all kinds of dishes including seafood, poultry preparations, various pasta items, all kinds of meat dishes, vegetables and meat stews. It can be added to casseroles, vegetables, and soups; it brings zest to salads and salad dressings. Many cuisines cannot exist without using some garlic in the preparation of the meal. The dish known as aioli, which is a hearty and thick French mayonnaise prepared using eggs, olive oil, and crushed garlic is one dish that cannot exist without the use of garlic. Indian, Mediterranean, Chinese and many other cuisines will not be what they are if it weren’t for the garlic.
Fresh cloves of garlic can be ground in a press or mortar and pestle, the alternate method is to hit the cloves sharply using the flat end of a chopping knife. There is a lot of debate in culinary circles about the appropriate amount of garlic needed to be used in any dish. The tolerance of the diner should probably be the factor that decides the issues, it may be best to use garlic sparingly till what is required by the diners. One interesting point found through research is that the huge consumption of garlic and red wine in Mediterranean countries may be responsible for the low incidence of some types of cancers in these regions.
The whole cloves of the garlic can be steamed or bake and consumed with the daily meal. Cooking tends to make the strong acrid flavor of the garlic milder. At the same time, burnt garlic always ends up tasting bitter and this should be avoided. If garlic is to be fried, the oil being cooked must not be too hot, as the garlic will then develop an acrid taste and become tasteless.
The skin of freshly peeled garlic cloves must be prevented from sticking to the fingers when it is being peeled. A way to avoid this stickiness is to immerse all the garlic cloves in boiling water for thirty seconds before peeling. The cloves can then be removed from the water, dried and cool, and then peeled.
Salt flavored using garlic is widely employed on a commercial basis to flavor different kinds of foods sold in the market. Garlic salt is also quite a popular standby in some home kitchens; however, the high sodium content of this product may not be the best choice for flavoring dishes if the intent is to cook with the health of the heart in mind.

GROWING GARLIC:

garlic drawing
The garlic is probably native to central Asia and is believed to have originated from there. However, it has been extensively cultivated on a worldwide basis for many centuries and is one of the most familiar kitchen herbs in the world.
The garlic plant grows optimally in rich and well-drained soils, possessing high amounts of organic compounds. At the same time, it is also possible to successfully grow the garlic in a wide range of soil varieties and climatic conditions. The garlic tolerates a pH range from slightly acidic 5.5 to an alkaline 8.5 – growing optimally within these extremes.
The garlic grows optimally in sites that have good exposure to sunlight; however, it can also grow successfully at sites with a partial shade. The growing garlic plants must not be given excess water or the bulbs will rot and the crop will be ruined.
Garlic can be grown from the cloves or the bulbils as most garden grew garlic will not produce seeds. Many nurseries and garden catalogs have the cloves and bulbils on sale.
Garlic cloves are usually planted in seedbeds early in the spring or late in the fall. Garlic planted in the fall tends to result in the best yields. This is mainly due to the fact, that the garlic plant requires a rather long growing season of a minimum of four months to grow to an optimal size. Garlic plants planted in the soil late in the month of September or in October can be expected to show their growing tops emerging from the soil by the month of November – by winter, all the plants will have rooted well at the site. Tender garlic plants have cloves that remain dormant over the winter; these will only resume growth in the spring when the snow melts. For optimum growth later and to successfully form new bulbs, the dormant cloves or young plants require some exposure to cold temperatures ranging from 0°C to 10°C – 32°F to 50°F – for a period of four to eight weeks. The dormancy of garlic plants is broken by the increasing daylight hours during the spring. This also leads to the stimulation of the plants and encourages bulb formation in the plants.
Garlic cloves must be planted into the soil with the pointed end up towards the surface. A planting depth of five cm – two inches – below the soil’s surface is ideal for optimum growth. Each individual clove must be planted a minimum of eight cm -three inches – deep in the soil. Garlic plants require some space from neighboring plants to grow well, plant the cloves leaving a space of fifteen cm – six inches – around each clove to give the seedling some room.
It is important to tend growing garlic plants with care, as the strong movement of the soil around the shallow rooted garlic plants will result in damage to the roots and hence retard the development of such plants. In mid-summer, it becomes necessary to cut back the flowering stalks of the plants, this helps in channeling all the plant’s energy into the development of storage bulbs resulting in a good yield.
The garlic is normally free of pests and common plant diseases – it is a hardy herb compared to many other cultivated plants. When growing garlic, in the northernmost range, it becomes necessary to mulch the cloves or young plants over the winter particularly if the snow cover in the area is limited.
Containers can be used to grow garlic plants, this is a good way of cultivation particularly when a suitable cold storage area for such containers is available during the months of winter. This storage area can include an unheated garage or garden shed. The soil must be moist when during freeze up; the soil must again be checked for moisture content during the thaws in mid-winter. In late March, the containers can be brought out of storage and if everything has gone as planned – green spears will soon poke up from the soil. This method of growing in a container is redundant for regions with warmer climates and the cold storage arrangement isn’t necessary. All the garlic containers can be kept outside over the winter without fear of losing the crop.

RESEARCH:

Extensive laboratory-based studies on the garlic have been conducted from the 1980’s onwards in places like Germany, Japan, and the United States. However, till date, most clinical authorities still have a lot of disagreement over the exact nature and benefits of the remarkable antibiotic action seen in the garlic. The compound called alliin present in the garlic is released when the fresh clove is crushed; it is broken down instantly by alliinase into allicin – the main active compound in garlic. A potent antiseptic and antibiotic action is evident in the compound allicin and in the other chemical constituents of the volatile oil found in the garlic. The presence of these compounds is an explanation for the effectiveness of garlic in relieving even severe infections like chronic dysentery and related digestive disorders.
The ability of garlic to lower elevated blood pressure was also confirmed by clinical trials carried out in the 1980’s. In fact, garlic reduces blood lipid – fats – levels, resulting in better control of hypertensive disorders.

COMPONENTS OF GARLIC:

Garlic contains volatile oil with sulfur-containing compounds (notably allicin, alliin, and ajoene); enzymes, B vitamins, minerals, flavonoids.

RECOMMENDED USE AS A TINCTURE:

Different people use garlic in different ways, and there are individuals who actually chew one whole clove of raw garlic daily to boost their health. The best way to take garlic for those who prefer it over other herbs is in an odor-controlled, enteric coated tablet or capsule form that is made with a standardized allicin potential. These tablets or capsules can be taken at doses of 400-500 mg one or two times daily – for a total intake of 5,000 mg of allicin a day. The tincture can also be taken instead, at doses of 2-4 ml three times a day. Taking garlic in this way boosts health and reduces the chances of many diseases.

POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS AND PRECAUTIONS:

Garlic is enjoyed as a food by most people and garlic remedies are also well tolerated by and large. However, some individuals can experience dermatitis on being exposed to garlic dust and these people need to take care when using garlic for any purpose.
Some of the side effects of consuming garlic include a reduction in the clotting time of blood; this effect of the herb can lead to the development of medical problems in individuals already on aspirin or those using anticoagulant medications on a routine basis.
Diabetics should be aware that consuming large doses of garlic, in pill form, as capsules, etc, even in standard medicinal quantities can interfere with insulin therapy in the long term.
All individuals interested in consuming garlic extracts must consult with a physician; this is especially true of people who already suffer from any type of medical problem which requires the regular use of some prescription medication. Consulting a doctor before beginning garlic supplements is the recommended to avoid side effects. While the consumption of garlic consumption is generally safe, some medical authorities speak against the consumption of large amounts of garlic by pregnant or breastfeeding women. The Mediterranean diet is rich in garlic, the regular consumption of the garlic in many culinary dishes by the people in this region has been connected to the lowered risk for certain cancers in the people living here.

HOW GARLIC WORKS IN THE BODY:

Garlic’s distinctive smell is due to the presence of the volatile oil. The oil contains the compound called allicin that has been proven to induce an antibiotic action over the Staphylococcus aureus strain of bacteria. It is also effective in other bacterial strains and in general, it can be used to treat all bacterial infections in the human body. Infection caused by Candida albicans has also been successfully alleviated using allicin as the primary remedy. The allicin also possesses a potent hypoglycemic effect and helps in reducing blood sugar levels when they are elevated – mainly in diabetics. Allicin, in addition, has a demonstrated antithrombotic effect, helping in reducing the rate of blood clot formation. This compound also has the ability to lower blood pressure and helps in reducing elevated cholesterol levels in the blood.

USING YOUR GARLIC:

Cloves:
FRESH GARLIC CLOVES – Fresh slightly bruised cloves of garlic can be rubbed on acne covered skin as a treatment. Fresh garlic cloves can also be mashed and used on warts and verrucas, or to draw out corns and soothe irritated skin. Garlic cloves can be regularly consumed as part of the diet in the form of a prophylactic herbal remedy – to ward off the risk of infection. Consuming garlic on a regular basis also helps in reducing high cholesterol levels in the blood, which leads to an improved functioning of the cardiovascular system. Garlic also helps lower blood sugar levels and diabetics can consume some cloves as a part of the meals daily. To treat all kinds of digestive disorders, three to six crushed cloves can be eaten daily, especially when dealing with acute conditions such as severe digestive disorders – including gastroenteritis, dysentery, intestinal worms, and other infections of the digestive system.
HERBAL GARLIC JUICE – Garlic cloves can be turned into a juice, this drink relieves digestive disorders and infections. Drinking the juice daily will also help a person fight chronic atherosclerosis.
MACERATION – Three or four cloves of garlic can be steeped overnight in a little water or milk. This garlic liquor can be used the next day for ridding the body of intestinal parasites.
CAPSULES – Powdered garlic is also made into capsules. This form is an aromatic alternative to the commercial “pearls.” There are distinct benefits associated with using garlic in this form; recent clinical trials have shown that daily consumption of two g of the powder in capsule form actually prevented the incidence of additional heart attacks in individuals who had already undergone an attack earlier. Infections such as thrush can also be alleviated by taking the capsules daily.
PEARLS – This form of the garlic remedy can be used as an alternative to the capsule form. One thing to remember is that the greater the “deodorized” state of the pearls, the less is their effectiveness. Strong odors suggest potency in the remedy.

HARVESTING GARLIC:

Garlic is harvested when the tops of the plant dry up and starts bending; the bulbs are pulled up at this stage. The mature plants possessing the large and multi-clove bulbs are pulled out straight from the ground and then dried in the sun for about a week’s time. After this initial airing, each one is trimmed down or a braid is made from the stalks – this is then hung as garlic “ropes” in the shade for an additional period of drying in the open air.
Once the bulbs are completely dry, they are stored in a cool, dry and dark place – this space should have good circulation of air. The bulbs must not be kept in the kitchen as cooking heat often dries out the bulbs and the garlic become inedible. People who may require a lot of garlic lying within easy reach during cooking can store garlic bulbs inside a closed jar – this prevents the pungent odor of the garlic from penetrating other food items kept nearby.
Regarded as an easily stored herb, garlic bulbs can be kept up to six months if stored in a dry and dark location, the ambient temperature in the storage space must not exceed 0°C – 32°F – to ensure the preservation of the distinct taste and other characteristics such as the tangy smell.

GARLIC BUTTER:

  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup soft butter
  • 2 Tbs. fresh parsley, finely minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Set the unpeeled cloves in the boiling water. Bring to a boil, and boil 5 minutes. Drain, peel and rinse the cloves under cold water. Return to the boiling water, and allow the water to boil up once more. Drain the garlic again, and with the salt and pepper, pound it to a smooth paste in the bottom of a small bowl.
Beat the butter into the garlic. Use 1 teaspoon with broiled or boiled fish, with hamburgers, steaks, boiled potatoes, or to enrich sauces made with drippings from roasts.

HERB AND GARLIC CHEESE:

This is an extremely easy way to transform an ordinary cream cheese into a gourmet item, at a fraction of the price of the ready-made product. You can use full-fat cream cheese, curd cheese, or sieved cottage cheese but, if you opt for the latter, you will need to add 3 tablespoons of double cream to achieve the right consistency. As with herb butter, delicately flavored herbs with fairly soft leaves, such as chives, chervil or parsley, are best for herb cheese.
  • 225 g/8 oz cream or curd cheese, or sieved cottage cheese
  • 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs
  • 1/2 clove finely chopped garlic
Work the garlic and herbs into the cheese with a fork, until all the ingredients are well combined. Form into a round, place in a dish, cover with cling film and refrigerate before serving.

Onion {Allium cepa}

ALSO, KNOWN AS:

  • Common Onion
  • Onion
The onion – botanically called Allium cepa – is one of the most common culinary herbs around, and is used worldwide in many culinary preparations. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus writes of nine tons of gold being spent to purchase enough onions to feed the builders of the pyramids – this suggests the immense popularity of this vegetable in Egypt of the pharaohs. The ancient Egyptians even offered the humble onion bulb as a sacrificial offering to their god, to the great amusement of the conquering Romans. Thus not only was the onion widely used in the ancient world, but also highly valued by some societies. The onion had other uses during the later stages of the Middle Ages when the onion began to be used as a charm against evil spirits and the dangers of the plague – the strong smell of the herb was probably thought to influence and ward off spirits and disease. The strong aroma and flavor of the onions, leeks, and the garlic is due to their content of many sulfur compounds. The smell was seen by folk healers as indications for the power of the juice and they believed it could help the prevent infection in the body. The application of onion as a topical remedy to remove warts and prevent acne has also been suggested by some modern herbalist. These herbalist using the onion based syrup as an expectorant in treating coughs and congestion in the chest region. The diuretic action of the onions is also a long held belief and it is said that the herb can reduce high blood pressure in people suffering from the condition. As a tonic, the herbal onion extract is certainly superlative due to its rich content of various vitamins, such as the useful B1 (thiamine) and B2 (riboflavin) groups, as well as the vitamin C so vital to cellular function.
North American natives have also been familiar with the onion and its related herbs for many centuries. The onion was, in fact, a favorite spring food of the early American Indians. Indeed, the early adventurous frontiersmen had a sure way to locate the various scattered Indian encampments during the spring by following the heavy scent of onions clinging to the air around native camps.

onion drawingPLANT PART USED:

Bulb.

MEDICINAL, BENEFICIAL USE:

A long list of medicinal and beneficial properties has been attributed to the onion herb. The plant is believed to have diuretic, as well as antibiotic and anti-inflammatory actions, it is also said to be an herbal analgesic and an expectorant, and is also said to have anti-rheumatic properties. Circulation in the human body is also benefited by consuming the onion and related herbs. Remedies made from the onions are used in the treatment of various infections such as colds, flu, and persistent coughs affecting patients. The onion is similar to the garlic in the nature of its remedial actions and has a tendency to alleviate angina, problems like arteriosclerosis, as well as to thwart heart attack in patients. Problems like oral infection and tooth decay can also be prevented and treated using remedies made from the onion. In the case of an earache the warmed onion juice can be dropped into the ear for relief, and the poultice made from baked onion is used to drain away pus from sores on the skin. The aphrodisiac actions of the onion are also an ancient and longstanding reputation of the herb. Onion-based remedies are also believed to be cosmetically useful in stimulating hair growth in case of balding problems.

OTHER MEDICAL USE:

  • Homeopathy
  • Altitude sickness
  • Breast cancer
  • Glue ear
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Viral infection

ONION IS A NATIVE PLANT:

The onion is a native plant of the northern hemisphere. Millennial ago, the onion was one of the first plants cultivated in the Middle East. The popularity of the onion is such that it is now grown as a major vegetable around the world.

COMPONENTS OF ONION:

Onion contains a volatile oil with sulfurous constituents, sulfur –  containing compounds such as allicin (an antibiotic) and alliin, flavonoids, phenolic; acids, and sterols.

SALT-LESS SEASONING:

Ingestion of excessive salt either through the foods, we consume or otherwise is not beneficial for our health. Hence, you may alternately use a salt-free seasoning blend to ensure that you do not intake too much salt. When you have a ready-made quantity readily available you are able to season vinaigrette quickly or a number of steamed vegetables without spending any additional time to slice and chop them. Place the flavoring in a shaker having big holes on the lid – you may use a spice jar or a used salt canister for this purpose after having cleaned, rinsed and dried it. Irrespective of what you use for a shaker, it should essentially have a lid to keep the blend sealed; otherwise, you may also use Clingfilm to seal the shaker. The ingredients for this recipe are listed below.
  • 50 grams/ 2 ounces of dried dill leaves
  • 50 grams/ 2 ounces of dried onion flakes
  • 3 tablespoons of lightly roasted sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons of dried lemon peel
  • 2 teaspoons of celery seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon of recently pounded black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
Pound all these ingredients collectively in a mortar and grinder or a coffee grinder. Subsequently, put them in a shaker and seal the lid firmly.

Tomato {Solanum lycopersicum}

The tomato plant (botanical name Solanum Lycopersicum) is a member of the nightshade family. Usually, plants of this species grow to a height of anything between one and three meters (3 to 10 feet) and have the very delicate stem that generally spread out over the ground as well as climbs like vines on other nearby plants. Tomato is a perennial plant in its place of origin but is generally cultivated outdoors as an annual plant in places having temperate climatic conditions.

It is thought that the existing kind of tomato has originated from a species whose fruits were roughly the size of marbles and this species actually grew several thousand years back. In effect, the tomato is indigenous to South America’s Andean region and there is evidence that this species was cultivated in Peru as early as the 16th century when the Spanish conquered the region. Prior to the end of the 16th century, people in England, as well as the Netherlands, were consuming as well as taking delight in tomato. While the English nicknamed the fruit as ‘love apple’, romances in England portrayed tomato in the form of a symbol of fondness or love. According to the cultivators as well as its usage, a tomato is considered to be a vegetable, while in terms of botany, the tomato is regarded as a fruit. Moreover, going by botany, the tomato may be categorized as a berry, as it is yielding and encloses one or several seeds, which are not stones. Tomato is regarded to be an important fruit, which is a good source of citric acid and is classified in the same group that also includes oranges and grapefruit. In addition to citric acid, tomato also contains some amount of oxalic acid.

The utmost benefits of tomatoes can be obtained when they are mixed with proteins. You may use tomatoes in the form of fruits as well as in vegetable salads. When tomatoes are used in beverages, they provide a calming and rejuvenating feeling and are particularly wonderful in the form of flavoring for soups. In addition, tomatoes may be used in foods to provide color as well as to make green salads additionally tempting. It is advisable that you need to use tomato juice soon after it has been extracted from tomato or soon after the can containing the juice is opened. In case canned tomato juice is opened and allowed to remain in the same way, it will lose a lot of its minerals worth since it oxidizes very rapidly.

In addition, tomatoes should also be collected when they are ripe since the acids of the green tomatoes are extremely harmful to the body and have a negative reaction on the kidneys. Several varieties of tomatoes that are cultivated in the present times are grown in hothouses and are collected when they are still unripe and green. These unripe tomatoes eventually ripen while being transported to the markets or during the period when they are in cold storage plants, which are constructed for this purpose. When the seeds or the internal parts of the tomatoes remain green, while the exterior is red, it is a sign of the fact that the fruit has been picked prematurely.

Medical Properties

Ripe fresh tomatoes growing on the vine.It may be mentioned that tomato basically does not form acid. Although it encloses sufficient amount of citric acid, it is actually alkaline forming when it gets into our bloodstream. Tomato enhances the alkalinity of the blood and, thereby, facilitates in removing toxins, particularly uric acid, from the system. Tomatoes are excellent in the form of a liver cleanser, particularly when they are used in conjugation with juices of green vegetables.

In several European clinics or sanatoriums, tomatoes are employed in the form of a poultice for treating several health conditions. Some people have a wrong belief that tomatoes are detrimental for people who have been enduring gout and rheumatism. In effect, individuals who are suffering from these two conditions ought to blend tomato juice with juices of other green vegetables with a view to averting any type of possible potent reaction. Every time when it is found that the blood is sluggish in any area of the body, applying a tomato poultice is an excellent treatment for easing the blood stagnation. Applying a tomato poultice works as a suspending agent or in the form of a solvent.

Tomatoes are extremely rich in vitamin content. As aforementioned, tomatoes are excellent in the form of blood purifier and are very good in elimination diets. Nevertheless, they ought not to be employed regularly. It may be noted that tomato juice may also be employed in convalescent diets, in conjugation with juices of other raw vegetables, for instance, parsley, celery, carrot and beet juice.

Tomatoes contain a substance called lycopene, which belongs to the carotenoid family and is a pigment that is responsible for the red color of the vegetable/ fruit. In addition, lycopene is the main contributor to the tomatoes’ power to promote health. In effect, lycopene has shown a variety of exceptional as well as individual biological characteristics that have always fascinated scientists. A number of researchers have started believing that lycopene could be a very potent antioxidant, somewhat similar to beta-carotene. It has been proved that lycopene eliminates the free radical singlet oxygen, an especially toxic form of oxygen extremely proficiently. In addition, lycopene also has the capacity to scavenge a number of free radicals.

Findings of several types of research have begun to divulge that individuals who have consumed excessive amounts of tomatoes faced far little risks of death from all types of cancers in comparison to those who consumed very little or no tomatoes at all. Several other types of research have repeated the positive findings regarding the consequences of consuming tomatoes.

Lycopene found in tomatoes does not only help to alleviate cancer. In effect, this member of the carotenoid family is a crucial part of the antioxidant protection system in our skin. On its own as well as in conjunction with additional nutrients, dietary lycopene may increase the skin’s sun protection factor (SPF). Precisely speaking, when you consume tomatoes, you actually augment the ability of your skin to endure the battering from the harmful rays of the sun. Tomatoes work in a manner akin to an internal sunblock.

In addition, lycopene also has the ability to obliquely lower the risk for macular degeneration related to age by means of ‘releasing’ lutein oxidation to enable transportation of lutein to the macula in its un-oxidized and defensive form.

It may be noted that lycopene is rarely present in foods, and tomatoes are among just a few foods that enclose this potent antioxidant. In fact, the red watermelon is one more wonderful natural source of lycopene. According to some sources, lycopene is an extremely intense and bio-available source of the nutrient, which is present in more amounts in red watermelon compared to tomatoes. In fact, consuming watermelon certainly boosts the amount of lycopene in the blood more in comparison to tomatoes.

Although in recent times, lycopene has drawn plenty of attention, tomatoes enclose rich amounts of a range of nourishment’s that appear to work in synergy to support health as well as energy. The good thing about the tomato is that while it contains low-calorie content, it is high in fiber and potassium. In addition to having rich contents of lycopene, tomatoes are also an excellent natural resource of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, phytoene/ phytofluene, lutein/ zeaxanthin as well as a variety of polyphenols. Tomatoes also enclose a few B vitamins, including vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, thiamine, and niacin. In addition, they contain some amount of vitamin E, folate, manganese, magnesium and zinc.

Tomatoes and cancer: Many of the very thrilling researches were undertaken on tomatoes have concentrated on the fruit/ vegetable’s competency to provide protection against cancer, particularly prostate cancer.

Tomatoes do not only protect us from prostate cancer. In effect, an increasing amount of evidence hints that to some extent, lycopene offers protection from other forms of cancers too – such as digestive tract, breast, bladder, cervix and lung cancer.

It appears that lycopene lowers the risk of cancer in various different manners. In the form of a potent antioxidant, lycopene assists in blocking the constant degenerative effects of the harmful free radicals inside the body. Lycopene is particularly effectual for this purpose when there is the presence of adequate vitamin E. In effect, lycopene also appears to obstruct the growth aspects that encourage the growth as well as the proliferation of cancer cells. And lastly, it also appears that lycopene also encourages the body to increase a further effectual immune protection against cancer.

Since lycopene is soluble in fat, it requires some amount of dietary fat to transport this potent antioxidant through the bloodstream. However, it needs to be mentioned that consuming a whole, fresh tomato out of your hand is not a very good source of this nourishment – lycopene. The most effective foods based on the tomato that appear to provide maximum protection against cancer are prepared with some amount of oil at all times. A salad prepared with tomato with added virgin olive oil is a food that genuinely promotes health. It may be noted that the greenish hue of olive oil signifies the existence of polyphenols. When these polyphenols contained by virgin olive oil are blended with the potent nourishment’s present in tomatoes, it gives spaghetti sauce a healthy flavor to treat on. It may also be used in soups based on tomatoes for the same purpose.

Tomatoes excellent for the heart: Besides being an effective food for protection against cancer, there is sufficient evidence that consuming tomatoes also has a crucial role in lowering the risk of cardiovascular ailments. Lycopene’s antioxidant function in conjugation with other potent antioxidants present in tomatoes, for instance, beta-carotene and vitamin C, work within the body to combat the harmful free radicals that might otherwise harm the cells as well as cell membranes. The protection of the cells as well as their membranes lowers the risks of inflammation and, hence, the advancement as well as acuteness of atherosclerosis. In fact, lycopene present in tomatoes has been found to be very effectual in providing protection against heart attacks.

tomatos2
Tomatoes on the vine

Healthy skin: When the tomato plants are growing outdoors in the wild, they need to guard themselves against any possible attack. In fact, these plants are under continuous assault from the ultraviolet rays (UV rays), predators as well as environmental pollution. Hence, it is very important that these plants should have a first, strong line of protection. In the case of humans as well as other living things, the skin is the first line of defense. Be it the skin or peel of an apple, the covering of a grape, or the outer layer of an orange, this portion of the fruit possesses wonderful antioxidant competence that allows it to endure the attacks of nature.

For instance, the exterior leaves of cabbage and spinach have the maximum concentrations of vitamin C, while the florets of broccoli have additional vitamin C compared to its stalks.

For example, 100 grams of fresh apple (peels included) enclose approximately 142 mg of flavonoids. On the other hand, an equal amount of apples without their skin or peel enclose just 97 mg of flavonoids. A very common flavonoid known as quercetin which has anti-inflammatory attributes is only present in the peel of the apples and not in the fruit’s flesh. In other words, the antioxidant actions of 100 grams of apples sans its skin or peel are about 55 per cent of the actions of 100 grams of apples having its skin. More precisely, apples without their peel are just about 50 percent as potent as those with their skin. Similarly, the paper-thin brown hued skins on peanuts as well as almonds are packed with a range of bioactive polyphenols.

Before concluding, it is advisable that you consume the right fruits and vegetables that have their skin/ peel or rind on. In fact, the skin is also the place where the detrimental pesticides and latently harmful bacteria may be found. Therefore, it is essential to meticulously wash the fruits and vegetables prior to eating them raw. At the same time, do not forget that while drinking juices of vegetables and fruits, it is important to choose the ones with sediments at the bottom. These sediments actually contain portions of the skin and pulp of the vegetables and fruits and they are all vital sources of antioxidants.

Cucumber {Cucumis sativus}

The cucumber, botanically known as the Cucumis sativus, is an extensively cultivated plant in the gourd family Cucurbitaceae that includes squash and also muskmelon. Though it is technically a fruit, cucumbers are widely considered vegetables.

Cucumber is a vegetable which is a member of the family that also includes different squashes, pumpkins, and zucchinis. The skin of this vegetable is dark green, which when peeled exposes a whitish or extremely pale green flesh. Basically, there are two varieties of cucumbers – the slicing type and the pickling type. Among these two varieties, the pickling type is comparatively small in size, approximately 2 inches to 4 inches in length. Most of us are aware of the fact that cucumbers possess a cooling attribute and are very beneficial to provide respite to the eyes during the summer. Nevertheless, cucumbers are related to much different health as well as nourishing advantages also.

In fact, the cucumber is an annual creeping vine that roots in the ground and grows up fencing or other supporting frames, wrapping around ribbing with thin, spiraling tendrils. Cucumber has large heart-shaped leaves that form a canopy over the fruit. The flowers of cucumber are yellow colored and bell-shaped while the fruit is ribbed green. Cucumber has cylindrical, elongated shape, with tapered ends, and it may be as large as 60 cm in length and 10 cm in diameter.

Although plant explorers are yet to find out an uncultivated sample of cucumber, it is known to have its origin in India. Cucumber is one of the oldest vegetables are known to mankind and is reported to have been cultivated for thousands of years. While records available state that the ancient Egyptians used cucumber as a food while it was also a favorite vegetable among the Greeks as well as the Romans. Interestingly, cucumber is among the very few vegetables mentioned even in the Bible.

cucumbers in basket

Here are a few tips on selecting the best quality of cucumbers. The best quality of cucumbers for slicing should be rigid, unsullied, bright, and able-bodied as well as of average or dark green in color. It is always advisable to stay away from shrunken or dried up cucumbers. Normally, the flesh of the cucumber is tough or rubber-like and slightly bitter to taste. Over-matured cucumbers can easily be identified by their messy and inflated exterior. Even the color of the over-matured cucumbers is not green, but dull and very often yellowish. Besides, the flesh of the overgrown cucumbers is very tough and they contain hard seeds. Even the tissues present in the seed cavities are like a jelly. Under no circumstance should cucumbers in these conditions be used for slicing.

There are types of good quality cucumbers that are base green in color when they are full-grown and suitable for slicing. These varieties of cucumbers are usually whitish at the tips and have lines like ribs running from one tip to another. The tips of this variety of cucumbers change from light green to whitish to yellowish when they are over-mature.

How to Use Cucumbers

Interestingly, cucumbers are alkaline and starch-less vegetables and among the best cooling food when they are added to vegetable juices. In ancient times, owing to its slightly bitter taste, people were of the opinion that they would die if they consumed the vegetable without peeling it. However, this is not true and over the years, people have realized the fact. Cucumbers are useful in more ways than one. While the vegetable acts as an excellent digestive support, cucumbers also help in purifying the bowel. Many people eat cucumber raw after soaking it in salt water to get rid of its slightly bitter taste. However, this is not necessary and the vegetable can be consumed raw after slicing it finely. These cucumber slices can be eaten raw with sour cream, lemon juice or yogurt for a cool and pleasant summer dish.

The cucumber is also a natural diuretic used in the fitness world by bodybuilders and people trying to reduce fat. Cucumbers have cosmetic use too. They have an excellent effect on the skin and also have a cooling effect on the blood. While cucumbers keep the skin cool and clean during hot summers, they help in maintaining the temperature of the blood in the body. It is due to these qualities of the cucumber that the ancient adage, ‘Keeping cool as a cucumber’ gains ground.

Applying raw cucumber to the skin may possibly aid in lessening inflammation as well as heat. Cucumber is excellent for the health of the skin owing to its cooling, diuretic and purifying attributes.

In addition, drinking freshly prepared cucumber juice has the aptitude to alleviate gastritis, acid stomach, heartburn and also ulcers. When you place a slice of cucumber on your eyes, it helps to cool the eyes and, at the same time, also diminishes the swelling. Consuming cucumber juice on a regular basis facilitates in dealing with conditions, such as arthritis, eczema, and gout.

It has been found that cucumber is useful for people enduring chest, lung and stomach disorders. Cucumber contains potassium and this mineral makes this vegetable effective in treating both low and high blood pressure. Cucumber also encloses an enzyme called erepsin, which makes protein digestion easier.

The juice obtained from cucumber is known to stimulate hair growth, particularly when it is blended with carrot, spinach and lettuce juice. It is said that when cucumber juice is blended with carrot juice it is beneficial for treating rheumatic conditions caused by too much uric acid in the body. Cucumber may also be useful for people who are enduring diseases related to the teeth and gums, particularly in the instance of pyorrhea.

As cucumber contains high levels of valuable minerals, it facilitates in preventing the finger and toe nails from splitting.

It may be mentioned that cucumber has been related to healing diseases related to the kidneys, liver, urinary bladder and pancreas. Consumption of cucumber, as well as cucumber juice, has also proved to be beneficial for people who are enduring diabetes.

Cucumber has very high water content and this offers several health benefits that are physical, for instance, lessening the swelling under the eyes, clear or blemish-free skin as well as respite from sunburn. However, the water contained by cucumbers also facilitates in detoxifying the body, thereby, safeguarding you from falling sick.

While cucumbers do not burn fats by themselves, when you include cucumber in a salad, it may aid in boosting the daily fiber ingestion to burn fat and, thereby, help in weight loss. Owing to the high water content, cucumbers also provide you with the requisite fluid for processing fiber. Apart from the flesh, even the cucumber peel is a wonderful resource of dietary fiber, which is effective in providing relief from constipation as well as protecting against developing specific types of colon cancer.

It is worth mentioning that every cup (250 ml) of cucumber contains about 16 micrograms of magnesium and approximately 181 mg of potassium, which is able to assist in regulating as well as lessening high blood pressure (hypertension). When blended with properly balanced diet, consumption of cucumbers may prove to be helpful in regulating the blood pressure.

It is advisable that every time it is feasible, purchase organic cucumbers since cucumbers may possibly be waxed or be coated with pesticides. In case you purchase non-organic cucumbers, in any case, rinse them under cold running water and also cleanse them tenderly using a vegetable brush.

In addition, you may also soak cucumbers in water for about 5 to 10 minutes with about one to two tablespoonful of apple cider vinegar to get them rid of any pollutant or pesticides.

History and Habitat of Cucumbers

Cucumbers are known to be native to India and there is enough evidence available that shows that cucumber has been cultivated in Western Asia for about 3,000 years. Cucumber is also listed among the useful foods of ancient Ur. Some sources also mention that cucumber was cultivated in ancient Thrace. From India, cucumber spread to Greece where it was called “views” and Italy, where the Roman people were especially fond of this vegetable. Later, the cucumber was introduced in China. Today, cucumber is widely cultivated across the globe.

Homemade Cucumber Lotion

The ingredients required to prepare the elder flower and cucumber lotion to include:

  • 1 teaspoonful (5 ml) of cucumber juice
  • 1 teaspoonful (5 ml) of almond oil
  • 2 tablespoonfuls (30 ml) of almond milk
  • 1 drop of the tincture of benzoin

Just blend all these ingredients in a jar and seal the lid tightly. Shake the mixture thoroughly before use every time.