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Cretan herbs have been used for millenia, for flavouring foods, preserving foods and health in humans, and for medicinal properties. In Ancient Greece, physicians in training would visit Crete to learn from Cretan herbalists. De Materia Medica was widely read and used as a medical reference through to the late middle ages, and is still an invaluable reference text. The original was written in Greek. Dioscorides was also employed as a medic in the Roman army. That Explains a lot!
Cretan Herbs are the spice of a healthy life!
Antioxidant effects of Cretan herbs
(Christos LIonis et al – THE LANCET • Vol 353 • February 20, 1999, p 676)
Thyme herb is packed with numerous health benefiting phyto-nutrients (plant derived compounds), minerals and vitamins that are essential for wellness. One of the popular among culinary herb plants, thyme originally is native to the southern Europe and Mediterranean regions.
Botanically, it belongs to the family of Limiaceae, in the genus of thymus, which includes many subspecies among which the most popular variety is Thymus vulgaris or French thyme.
- Thyme contains many active principles that are found to have disease preventing and health promoting properties.
- Thyme is packed with minerals and vitamins that are essential for optimum health. Its leaves are one of the richest sources of potassium, iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium, and selenium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is required for red blood cell formation.
- The herb is also a rich source of many important vitamins such as B-complex vitamins, beta carotene, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin C and folic acid.
- Thyme provides 0.35 mg of vitamin B-6 or pyridoxine; furnishing about 27% of daily recommended intake. Pyridoxine keeps up GABA (beneficial neurotransmitter in the brain) levels in the brain, which has stress buster function.
- Vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.
- Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin and antioxidant that is required maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and is also essential for vision. Consumption of natural foods rich in flavonoids like vitamin A and beta-carotene helps protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
- Thyme herb contains thymol, one of the important essential oils, which scientifically have been found to have antiseptic, anti-fungal characteristics. The other volatile oils in thyme include carvacolo, borneol and geraniol.
- Thyme contains many flavonoid Phenolic antioxidants like zeaxanthin, lutein, pigenin, naringenin, luteolin, and thymonin. Fresh thyme herb has one of the highest antioxidant levels among herbs, a total ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) value of 27426-umol TE/100 g.
Oregano is a wonderful perennial culinary as well as medicinal herb. It has long been recognized as one of the “functional foods” for its nutritional, anti-oxidants and disease preventing properties. The herb, whose name means “delight of the mountains” in Greek, is native to the Mediterranean region. Botanically, the herb belongs to the mint ( Lamiaceae ) family, of the genus Origanum.
Oregano contains an impressive list of plant derived chemical compounds that are known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties.
The herb parts contain no cholesterol; however, are rich source of dietary fiber, which helps to control blood cholesterol levels.
Oregano contains health benefiting essential oils such as carvacrol, thymol , limonene, pinene, ocimene, and caryophyllene . The leaves and flowering stem of the plant are strongly anti-septic, anti-spasmodic, carminative, cholagogue (help gall bladder secretion), diaphoretic (sweat production), expectorant, stimulant, and mildly tonic properties. Its decoction is taken by mouth for the treatment of colds, influenza, mild fevers, indigestion, stomach upsets, and painful menstruation conditions.
Thymol is also been found to have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal activities.
The herb is rich in poly-phenolic flavonoid anti-oxidants (vitamin A, carotenes , lutein, zea-xanthin, and cryptoxanthin) and has been rated as one of the plant sources with highest anti-oxidant activities. These compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes.
The active principles in the herb may improve the gut motility in addition to increase the digestion power by facilitating copious gastro-intestinal enzyme secretions.
This marvellous herb is an excellent source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure caused by high sodium. Manganese and copper are used by the body as co-factors for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron helps prevent anemia. Magnesium and calcium are important minerals for bone metabolism.
In addition, fresh herb is an excellent source of antioxidant vitamin; vitamin-C. Vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.
Oregano is a proven super “functional food.” This herb is one of the foundation bases of healthy Mediterranean diet in addition to olive oil, fish and lots of greens, herbs and vegetables. It has an excellent nutritional profile; just 100 g of oregano herb provides:
- Dietary fiber- 107% (Percent of RDA) (RDA- Recommended daily allowance) .
- Folates- 69%
- Pyridoxine- 93%
- Vitamin-C- 83%
- Vitamin-K- 518%
- Iron- 550%
- Carotene-ß- 4112 µg
Herb sage is an evergreen perennial shrub commonly seen all over the Mediterranean and south-eastern Europe (Balkan) regions. Botanically, it belongs to the family of Lamiaceae , in the genus, Salvia . Sharp flavored, sage herb or garden sage is one of the popular herbs known since ancient Greece. Its numerous virtues have long been recognized – as the guardian of herbs and in various traditional European and Chinese medicines for its health promoting and disease preventing properties.
Health benefits of sage herb:
Sage herb parts have many plant-derived chemical compounds, essential oils, minerals, vitamins which have disease preventing, and health promoting properties.
The prime biologically active component of common sage appears to be its essential oil, which chiefly contain ketones; a-thujone, and ß-thujone . In addition, sage leaf contains numerous other compounds, including cineol, borneol, tannic acid; bitter substances like cornsole and cornsolic acid ; fumaric, chlorogenic, caffeic and nicotinic acids; nicotinamide; flavones; flavone glycosides and estrogenic substances. Altogether, these compounds known to have counter-irritant, rubefacient, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-fungal and anti-septic properties.
Thujone is GABA and Serotonin (5-HT3) receptor antagonist. It improves mental concentration, attention-span and quickens the senses; hence sage infusion has long been recognized as “thinker’s tea.”
Three lobe sage (S. triloba) composes flavone called salvigenin . The vascular relaxant effect of salvigenin may offer protection from cardiovascular diseases.
This herb is a very rich source of several B-complex groups of vitamins, such as folic acid , thiamin, pyridoxine and riboflavin.
The herb contains ample vitamin-A and beta-carotene levels. Vitamin-A is a powerful natural antioxidant and is essential for night-vision. It is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural foods rich in vitamin A known to help the body protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
Fresh sage leaves are a good source of antioxidant vitamin, vitamin-C; contain 32.4 or 54% of RDA. Vitamin C helps in the synthesis of structural proteins like collagen. Its adequate levels in the body help maintain integrity of blood vessels, skin, organs, and bones. Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps protect from scurvy , develop resistance against infectious agents (boosts immunity) and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.
Sage herb parts, fresh or dried, are rich sources of minerals like potassium, zinc, calcium, iron, manganese, copper, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids, which helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
THROUMBI (WINTER AND SUMMER SAVOURY)
Cretan Throumbi (aka winter or summer savoury) has numerous medicinal benefits according to traditional folklore, and there is increasing scientific evidence to support these beliefs. Winter savory has been purported to have antiseptic, aromatic, carminative and digestive benefits. It has also been used as an expectorant and in the treatment of stings.The plant has a stronger action than the closely related summer savory. Taken internally, it is said to be a remedy for colic and a cure for flatulence, whilst it is also used to treat gastro-enteritis, cystitis, nausea, diarrhoea, bronchial congestion, sore throat and menstrual disorders. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women. A sprig of the plant, rubbed onto bee or wasp stings, brings instant relief. Therapeautic grade oil has been determined to inhibit growth of Candida albicans . The plant is harvested in the summer when in flower and can be used fresh or dried. The essential oil forms an ingredient in lotions for the scalp in cases of incipient baldness. An ointment made from the plant is used externally to relieve arthritic joints. In traditional herbal medicine, summer savory was believed to be an aphrodisiac, while winter savory was believed to inhibit sexual desire.
The miracle herb Dittany of Crete has been hailed as a panacea for all that ails you. As a therapeutic and healing herb, Dittany of Crete is one of the best herbs for health and wellness . It is also useful as a relaxant for stress, as an aid for digestion, in promoting anti-aging, as a relief for acne , eczema , cellulite, muscular aches and pains, headaches and period pains. It is also well known for its aphrodisiac qualities! Indeed, its local name in Crete is Erondas «’????ta?» which means passion which explains why it is considered an aphrodisiac. Named after Mount Dikti in the Lasithian Mountains it grows in rocky and inaccessible places which makes it difficult to collect and quite expensive.
It is currently enjoying a new and ever growing popularity throughout the world, and the health and wellness industry is beginning to take notice of this rare and elusive plant.
But there is nothing new about this amazing herb. It has been growing wild on the mountainsides and gorges of the Greek Island of Crete since ancient times. It grows wild only on Crete and nowhere else in the world.
Dittany of Crete has been studied, revered and written about throughout the ages. It was believed that the Bronze Age civilisation known as the Minoans who inhabited Crete some 5000 years ago knew the benefits of Dittany of Crete and used it for curing ailments and for beautifying their skin and hair.
Ancient Greek scholars such as Hippocrates, Aristotle and Theophrastus all mentioned the benefits of Dittany of Crete in various ancient writings. Later in the Roman Era poets, writers and philosophers such as Virgil, Cicero and Pliny the elder all commented on the virtues of Dittany. Later still, during the Classical Renaissance period, European scholars, herbalists and botanists such as Gerald, Dapper and Culpepper renewed interest into the efficacy of Dittany.
And now, in this technological age, the secret of what has been hailed a miracle plant is well and truly out. Dittany of Crete is now available worldwide as a dried herb, as an herbal tea, as an essential oil used in aromatherapy, and as an ingredient in anti-aging natural beauty products.
Alison M Yates wrote this article. To learn more about this miracle herb.
Chamomile blossoms Chamomile is used for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antispasmodic and sedative properties.
It is also used internally to treat spasms and inflammation of the digestive tract.
In ancient Anglo-Saxon days, the chamomile flowers were chewed to relieve toothaches, which coincides with today’s use as a mouth rinse for sore gums and as an herbal treatment for gingivitis and inflammations of the oral cavity.
Chamomile is often used to treat nervous disorders such as insomnia, anxiety and nervous tension.
A salve or compress made from chamomile can be used to help treat wounds, burns, cold sores, canker sores, pinkeye and other skin irritations, due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Chamomiles antispasmodic effects make it useful in treating spasms and cramping, including menstrual cramps.
Chamomile is used to make soothing teas and as an additive to bath water for a relaxing soak.
It is often added to cosmetics as an anti-allergen.
The anti-inflammatory properties of this medicinal herb make it a good choice for sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis or other painful swelling disorders.
This herb is safe for use in children and may help with children’s problems that have a nervous component.
It has also been used as a herbal remedy for heartburn, morning sickness, motion sickness, chickenpox, diaper rash, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and colic.
Licorice roots Licorice root has an impressive list of well documented uses and is probably one of the most over-looked of all herbal remedies. It is used for many ailments including asthma, athlete’s foot, baldness, body odour, bursitis, canker sores, chronic fatigue, depression, colds and flu, coughs, dandruff, emphysema, gingivitis and tooth decay, gout, heartburn, HIV, viral infections, fungal infections, ulcers, liver problems, Lyme disease, menopause, psoriasis, shingles, sore throat, tendinitis, tuberculosis, ulcers, yeast infections, prostate enlargement and arthritis. Bloody cransbill roots
Ginger is well known as a remedy for travel sickness, nausea and indigestion and is used for wind, colic, irritable bowel, loss of appetite, chills, cold, flu, poor circulation, menstrual cramps, dyspepsia (bloating, heartburn, flatulence), indigestion and gastrointestinal problems such as gas and stomach cramps. Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb and there has been much recent interest in its use for joint problems. It has also been indicated for arthritis, fevers, headaches, toothaches, coughs, bronchitis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, to ease tendonitis, lower cholesterol and blood-pressure and aid in preventing internal blood clots.
Wild Majoram herb
- Uses of marjoram herb
- As a snakebite antidote
- Conjunctivitis (infection of the eye’s inner lining)
- Lack of menstruation
- Menstrual cramps
- Motion sickness
- Muscle and joint pain
- Sharp intestinal pains in infants
Cretan Black Mustard Seeds
Mustard seeds are a good source of selenium, which is known for its anti-inflammatory effects. Selenium is a nutrient that helps in reducing the severity of asthma, certain symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and even cancer.
Mustard oil also helps prevent heart attacks and diabetic heart disease, thus making it the most preferred oil, recommended by doctors and dieticians alike.
Mustard seeds have proven to be helpful in reducing the frequency of migraine attacks.
Consuming these seeds is known to help women suffering from distorted sleep patterns, associated with symptoms of menopause
Mustard seeds contain a lot of phytonutrients called glucosinolates. They also boast of myrosinase enzymes, which can break glucosinolates into other phytonutrients called isothiocyanates, known to have anti-cancer properties.
The seeds prove to be a good source of omega–3 fatty acids, iron, manganese, zinc, protein, calcium, dietary fiber and niacin.
Mustard seeds are a good source of magnesium, which helps reduce the severity of asthma, lower high blood pressure, and prevent heart attack in patients suffering from atherosclerosis or diabetic heart disease.
The magnesium in mustard seeds also helps in speeding up the metabolism of the body, hence improving digestion.
Mustard seeds are known to have antibacterial, antiseptic as well as antifungal properties.
Consuming black mustard seeds can help people with a lack of appetite, when taken with milk, 15 minutes before the meal.