We use herbs regularly in the kitchen, but are unaware of their cleansing effects. Herbs when used judiciously, effectively cleanse our bodies. Garlic, onion, neem, tulsi, liquorice, aloe, coriander, curry leaves, ginger, turmeric, pepper, clove and cardamom are few such herbs.
Herbs for healing
Herbs that we consume daily have detoxifying effects like:
- Alterative [cleanses blood]
- Anti-helmintic [rids body of worms and parasites]
- Expectorants [helps in excess mucous]
- Cathartic [clears intestines of toxins]
- Cholagogue [increases secretion of bile]
- Laxative [cleanses bowels]
- Lithotrophic [crushes and expels stones].
When consumed daily in small amounts, garlic has the benefits of penicillin without its side-effects. Research shows that it helps prevent cancer, helps lower cholesterol and high blood pressure, and prevents complications of diabetes. It has immense detoxification action [due to bioactive selenium] on oxidative damage caused by metals like mercury, cadmium, lead and helps excrete them out of the system. In addition to its cholesterol-lowering potential, blood-pressure-lowering effects and anti-oxidant properties, garlic may help moderate levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is a marker for coronary artery disease. One garlic [without peeling] could be cooked with milk and raisins and consumed at bedtime for better detoxification or it could be a major ingredient to season any detoxification drink.
This herb is used in the form of seed, powder or fresh leaves. It is capable of mobilising mercury, cadmium, lead and aluminium in both bones and the central nervous system. The proteins, iron, calcium, copper and other micronutrients that coriander contains help it act as a detoxifier. Coriander increases urinary output and helps cleanse the body. It could be consumed as tea or as spice or both.
This spice helps cleanse the liver, purify the blood, and promotes good digestion and elimination. It stimulates the gall bladder for bile production, and scavenges free radicals. It is recognised as anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral too. It is a good source of vitamin C and magnesium, and an excellent source of dietary fibre, vitamin B6, iron, potassium and manganese.
Aloe vera [Gwarpattha]
This wonder herb has been an all time favourite, both as a cosmetic and a cleanser. It not only removes toxins from the digestive system but tones it up to enhance its capacity to absorb all nutrients. It is extensively used to keep liver in good condition. Aloe vera has beneficial effects on skin, liver, uterus and respiratory system.
Fennel seeds often provide quick and effective relief from many digestive disorders. They help overcome gas, cramps, acid, indigestion and many other digestive tract maladies. Recent studies have found that consumption of fennel can increase the production of bile and may also possess diuretic, pain-reducing and anti-microbial activities.
Ginger and its constituents have anti-emetic, cardiac tonic, anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant, anti-hepato toxic [protects liver], anti-inflammatory effects. It also has stimulant, diuretic, immuno-stimulant, carminative, and cholagogue actions [secretion from liver and gall bladder are regulated]. Ginger is used to promote gastric secretions, increase intestinal peristalsis, lower cholesterol levels, raise blood glucose and stimulate peripheral circulation. Eating raw ginger before or with meals is recommended.
Curry leaves [Kadi patta]
It is also known as Murraya koenigi or kadi patta. Leaves of this tree have calcium, phosphorus, iron, nicotinic acid and vitamin C and are recommended for diabetic patients, liver dysfunctions and digestive disorders. Consuming curry leaf daily improves the secretion of the liver and keeps it in balance. It acts against flatulence, sluggish stomach and intestines and enhances immunity.
The World Health Organization [WHO] supports the use of onions for the treatment of poor appetite and to prevent atherosclerosis. In addition, onion extracts are recognised for providing relief in the treatment of coughs and colds, asthma and bronchitis.
Onions are a rich source of fructo-oligosaccharides. These oligomers stimulate the growth of healthy bifidobacteria and suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the colon. In addition, they can reduce the risk of tumours developing in the colon.
Cumin is known to have cancer-protective effect due to its potent-free radical scavenging abilities as well as the ability to enhance the liver’s detoxification enzymes. It has a good amount of iron and small amounts of manganese. It supplies vitamin B-complex, C, E and K, essential oils, and trace elements.
Moringa leaves contain high amounts of vitamin A [four times more than carrots], vitamin C [seven times more than oranges], protein [twice that of milk], calcium [four times more than milk] and potassium [triple the amount in bananas]. It increases the natural defences of the body as it has essential amino acids, magnesium, selenium and zinc. It has anti-oxidant properties, maintains blood glucose levels and helps cleanse kidney and liver.
It is a complete cleansing agent with multiple benefits. The anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and blood purifying properties are useful in skin disorders. Apart from wound healing, it has detoxifying benefits that help maintain healthy circulatory, digestive, respiratory, and urinary systems. Before committing to a programme of internal cleansing, consult an Ayurvedic physician.
And this caution is true for all above herbs. For quicker and larger detoxification, it is better to take these herbs under the guidance of an expert.
Ayurveda has always been a true advocator of Hippocrates profound idea – Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.