IBIZA‘S HEALING HERBS
Texto: Sabina Brownstein
One of the ways in which our culture can evolve to a more sustainable way of living is by rediscovering how to use the immense health and healing powers of natural plants and herbs. Our ancestors had passed this knowledge on from generation to generation for hundreds of years, but during the 20th century this tradition was lost as people learned to rely almost exclusively on pharmaceutical drugs rather than natural remedies. Growing awareness is reversing this trend as we awaken to the fact that most of these “miracle” drugs have serious side effects which can often outweigh their benefits. In the search for more gentle ways to ease our ailments we are once again turning to Mother Nature and her abundance of natural healing plants. All of the herbs described below are readily available here on Ibiza, and many of them grow wild in the countryside.
The free PARSLEY that we get in the markets is more than just a nice decoration for soups and salads. It is a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, potassium and important antioxidants. Traditionally it has been used as a diuretic and this aids in the elimination of uric acid which is helpful in the treatment of gout and rheumatism.
The beautiful ROSEMARY that grows throughout Ibiza is a tasty herb that also has many medicinal uses. It acts a tonic and stimulant for the cortex of the brain and this helps us to retain memory while reducing nervous tension. Rosemary also has powerful anti-inflammatory qualities for muscle and joint aches, plus it strengthens your blood vessels to improve circulation. It can be helpful for those on a diet because it stimulates the gall bladder to produce extra bile so that fat is digested faster and more completely. For a treat try fresh rosemary tea with honey as a delicious pick-me-up for mind, body and spirit.
THYME is a powerful herb that can be used effectively for a wide variety of ailments. In your respiratory system it acts as both an anti-spasmodic and an expectorant which makes it extremely helpful for most illnesses that affect the lungs. Asthma and bronchitis both respond well to thyme, and when combined with licorice and honey it makes an excellent cough mixture. Thyme can also be used to stimulate digestion and as an antiseptic for treating inflammation in the stomach and intestines. On top of all that thyme is a natural disinfectant with anti-fungal, anti viral, and anti-bacterial properties. Mix a few drops with water in a spray bottle and you have a disinfectant that some studies have shown to be just as good as the chemicals used in hospitals – and it’s all natural.
LAVENDER is such a beautiful and fragrant herb that it makes you feel better just being around it, but its beauty is more than skin deep. As an infusion or tea it calms the nervous system and allows you to relax. Lavender oil is one of the most versatile and valuable tools in aromatherapy as it can be used to treat any physical symptoms that arise from stress or nervous tension. It also has mild analgesic properties which make it perfect for treating headaches and migraines. Lavender oil is also an excellent antiseptic for cuts and abrasions as it soothes, cleanses and heals the skin.
BASIL is the natural accompaniment to all tomato dishes and the principal ingredient in pesto sauce (yum!). Aside from being a delicious summertime treat this seasonal herb helps to promote good digestion and has a relaxing effect on the nervous system. It is also useful to stimulate a flagging appetite and as a mild antiseptic for intestinal infections.
Basil can also aid in reducing a fever as it promotes sweating. Of course if you are sweating too much then you might want to try SAGE tea which cools you down and is a natural treatment for the hot flashes of menopause. Sage also has antiseptic and healing qualities which are specifically directed at inflammation in the mouth and throat area. Aching throats, tonsillitis, laryngitis and mouth sores all respond to rinsing and gargling with a solution of sage.
When taken as an herbal infusion sage is a good way to strengthen your lungs, but do not drink sage tea if you are pregnant. However, after the baby is born you may want to drink some FENNEL SEED tea which is excellent for nursing mothers because it increases the flow of breast milk. Also, a very weak infusion can calm the baby’s colic. But fennel seed is not just for new mothers and their children as it is an excellent calming and anti-spasmodic herb for all of us. In addition it is a useful diuretic and was traditionally used to treat kidney stones and cystitis. Finally, chewing fennel seeds after a meal will help your digestion and freshen your breath.
Herbs are not meant to replace all medicines but they do provide an organic way to encourage and support the natural healing processes of your body. These wonderful promoters of good health are always there for the taking with no prescription and no chemical side effects. So the next time that you take a walk in the beautiful countryside of Ibiza spend a few moments to recognize and appreciate the wonderful natural healers that are growing all around you. Touch them… smell their wonderful fragrance… give thanks for the beneficial abundance of Nature.