Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Guess What's Coming to Thanksgiving Dinner.

Remember 1966, when Simon and Garfunkel sang about Scarborough Fair and 4 simple herbs? They were parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
The USDA  and other modern nutritional organizations have us thinking of food consisting mainly of vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and calories. Yet every naturally occurring food source item contains a complex mix of natural chemical substances that have an action or reaction within our bodies. Some of these actions might clean sooth, stimulate, nourish or relax.

The 4 herbs made famous by Simon and Garfunkel, were supposedly the reason many grave robbers survived the Black Plague of the mid 1300’s. The thieves managed to protect themselves from the disease by wearing and consuming these herbs. Today we use them to flavor foods but originally their connection to food was in helping retard the purification of meat in days before refrigeration. They do this by inhibiting the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria and fungus.  My favorite use is in my savory Thanksgiving dressing.

A little research on the herbs gave me a greater respect for their place in my kitchen plus an indispensable addition to my potted herb gardens. I found parsley to be a vitamin and mineral powerhouse containing a large amount of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll cleans the colon (therefore the lungs) and builds healthy blood and muscle. Historically Parsley Teas were used as kidney stone, bladder infection, and jaundice medications, as well as digestive aids. Parsley is a natural diuretic, high in vitamins A, C, E and K and was the only thing my rabbit, Patch, was interested in eating after we had the poor guy neutered.
According to an article on www.diet-and-health.net, the oils and tannins in Sage have astringent, antiseptic, and irritant properties. Therefore it becomes an important herb in medications for mouth sores, mouth ulcers, thyroid and sore throat medications. Most viruses enter your body through your mouth or nose. Sage is used to offset endless list of problems in humans. I usually recommend it for hormone imbalance, excessive sweating, and it was the cure for restoring color to my first gray hair.

A search on Rosemary shows that it is under study for its antioxidant properties. They find that it can help stop free radicals before they damage your cells. It also contains antimicrobial properties, which means it kills bacteria and fungi. Rosemary also increases alertness, memory and concentration when used as a tea or tonic. I usually pass a small bottle of the essential oil around the room when I teach workshops. It can reduce fatigue, depression and anxiety and encourages calmness.

Surfing Wikipedia I found the essential oil of common thyme (Thymus vulgaris), contains 20-54% thymol. Thymol is an antiseptic and the main active ingredient in various mouthwashes.  Before the arrival of modern antibiotics, oil of thyme was used to medicate bandages. It has also been shown effective against various fungi that commonly infect toenails.

All the more reason to make my dressing. Why don’t you try researching some of your favorite cooking herbs to find how much they help your health.  And remember ‘all things in moderation, ‘ herbs can be self-limiting.  Happy Thanksgiving. Among other things, I am thankful for what herbs give us.

Thanks for the help from these sites.