The kitchen cabinet is your own personal pharmacy
The famous ancient Greek physician Hippocrates said, “let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” And indeed, in Tanzania, many people use home remedies to cure common ailments like coughs, headaches, stomach aches, and even acne. In fact, you might have a childhood memory of your parents or grandparents giving you some concoction they brewed in the kitchen when you were sick, promising that it will make you feel better. And it usually did.
However, while there are dozens of herbs, spices, vegetables, fruits, and more that have healing benefits to humans, few are as effective and easy to find as these 5 powerful home remedies. In fact, you probably have them in your kitchen cabinet.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
While not commonly used in African cuisine, Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is easy to find in most well-stocked supermarkets. It’s worth having in your kitchen as it helps with many different health conditions and works incredibly fast. These include:
- Anti-bacterial qualities: It contains acetic acid which kills bacteria and pathogens making it a good treatment for wounds, fungus infections, and yeast infections
- Lowers blood sugar level: Numerous studies have shown that taking about 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar improves insulin sensitivity to carbohydrates in your body, and thus helps keep blood sugar levels stable. Therefore, ACV is incredibly beneficial to people with diabetes.
- Weight-loss: ACV can also increase feelings of fullness, and thus make people eat less and over time (combined with exercise) lose more weight
- Digestion: It contains probiotics, which are good for clearing bad bacteria from your digestive tract and keeping your system healthy
How to take apple cider vinegar:
Add 2 teaspoons (30ml) of ACV to a glass of water, once a day after a meal. Don’t take it undiluted as it’s very acidic and can harm your teeth.
Ginger has been used in medicinal practices across different parts of the world for centuries. It contains gingerol, a powerful substance that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and makes ginger great for:
- A sore throat, menstrual cramps, muscle aches, and osteoarthritis: It helps improve blood flow and removes inflammation in the muscles
- Lowers blood sugar levels: A study in 2015 found that 2 grammes of ginger per day lowered blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes by 12%
- Indigestion: Ginger helps speed up bowel movements, and so can be beneficial to people suffering from indigestion and stomach discomfort.
- Heart disease: Studies show that ginger lowers levels of low-density lipoproteins (bad cholesterol) in the body, and thus also lowers chances of heart disease.
How to take ginger:
Buy fresh ginger and boil it in a cup of water for 15 mins, you can add cinnamon and honey for extra antioxidant benefits.
While lemons are a well-known source of Vitamin C, they are also packed with other nutrients like Fiber, Vitamin B complex, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. As a result, lemons can help with:
- Boosting the immune system: Lemon contains Vitamin C, which greatly boosts your immune system, meaning that you’ll be less likely to catch diseases like colds, flu, and suffer from fatigue
- Digestion: Lemons are highly acidic, and help get rid of bad toxins in your digestive system that may be causing indigestion
- Cleansing: Studies have shown that lemons enhance enzyme production in your liver, making them a great way to get rid of toxins in your body. That’s why it’s a good remedy for hangovers.
- Healthy skin: Because they help flush out toxins, lemons can also give your skin a radiant look. The acidity in lemons is also good for skin lightening in places where you have scars and blemishes.
- Inflammation: Inflammation is caused by excess acidity in the body, and often leads to other diseases. Luckily, lemons help lower acidity and bring down inflammation. They also remove uric acid from the joints, which is greatly responsible for inflammation.
- Soothing: Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it is great for sore throats and to reduce swelling in different parts of your body
How to take lemons:
Boil one to two lemons in water for 15 minutes, and drink it in the morning before you eat anything.
Garlic is well known for the flavour it adds to food, however, it contains the sulphur compound called Allicin, as well as other nutrients like Manganese, Selenium, Fiber, Vitamin C, and B6, that are incredibly beneficial to your health in the following ways.
- Boosts your immune system: Greatly boosts the immune system and prevents common diseases like cold and flu
- Reduces hypertension: Studies show that high amounts of garlic help reduce high blood pressure (hypertension) that can lead to heart diseases and strokes. In fact, it can be as effective as taking prescribed medication
- Lowers cholesterol levels: Garlic lowers bad cholesterol levels, which decreases chances of heart disease
- Ageing: Garlic has high levels of antioxidant properties that support the body’s production of antioxidant enzymes. This helps reduce cell damage, which occurs more often in ageing. It is also linked to the prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s (which are caused by brain cell deterioration)
- Removes heavy metal toxins in the body: Garlic has been proved to reduce lead levels in the blood by 19% in workers (construction, mining) who are exposed to toxic metals.
How to take garlic:
Crush 2 peeled garlic cloves into a paste and mix with olive oil and a bit of salt to taste. You can add the paste to your cooked meals, just like you would, some chilli sauce or tomato ketchup. Though, be mindful of bad breath.
Turmeric is a yellow spice originally found in India and is used in curries and food to add flavour and colour. Though it is the bioactive compound that is found in turmeric, curcumin, that has extraordinary benefits to the human body in the following ways.
- Reduces inflammation: As mentioned before, most diseases are caused by inflammation in the body. Well, curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and actually fights inflammation at the molecular level, and prevents it from advancing.
- Depression: High doses of curcumin have been proven to work as well as pharmaceutical drugs in helping people manage depression
- Ageing: Curcumin prevents oxidative damage to cells by stopping the molecules (free radicals) that cause it and also helping the body generate its own antioxidants. This is beneficial in curtailing many ageing-related diseases.
- Arthritis: Because of its strong anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin can help treat symptoms of arthritis and sometimes works better than prescription medication.
- Brain-capacity: Curcumin has been proven to boost levels of the hormone BDNF, which is responsible for increasing the growth of new neurons and also fights the deterioration of cells and molecules in the brain that lead to brain-related diseases
How to take turmeric:
Mix it with black pepper and hot water. Though because turmeric spice only contains about 3% curcumin, it’s best to take an extract (supplement) with more curcumin in it.
UTIs seem to be on the rise in Tanzania, and they are mainly caused by bacteria (E. coli) normally found in the digestive system, travelling to the urinary tract. Luckily, cranberries contain proanthocyanidins, a substance that stops the bacteria that causes UTIs, from attaching to the bladder walls. While cranberries can’t cure UTIs, they can help prevent them from occurring in the first place.
How to take cranberries:
Drink one to two glasses of cranberry juice (containing at least 20% pure cranberry juice) a day. Try and find juice with low to no sugar added.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
You see, while home remedies aren’t a substitute for manufactured medication when it comes to treating serious diseases like malaria, typhoid, diabetes and more,they can definitely help prevent and cure common ailments like colds, coughs, cholesterol, and joint pains. So, you should always have these 5 ingredients in your kitchen to not only make food tastier, but also keep you from the doctor’s office.