10 years ago

I just finished up a fantastic series of six classes on herbalism taught by master herbalist Matt Alfs. Matt is a clinical herbalist, and one of only a few in the world to become a registered herbalist (R.H.) through the American Herbalists Guild. He lives and teaches here in our own Minnesota.

Herbalism is the art and science of using plants and plant extracts to support health and healing. In fact, it’s the oldest and most widespread form of healing on the face of planet earth! While most people think of herbs as a seasoning in cooking, herbs can also play a dual role to help bring therapeutic properties to your body. 

Here are a few of my favorite dynamic duo herbs! This information isn’t intended to treat or diagnose your own personal health needs – you should consult with your doctor before using any herbal remedy.

Detoxification: Dandelion 
A recent Dr. Oz show spoke about detoxification and drinking dandelion root tea to help stimulate the liver. According to Dr. Oz, even a diseased liver can regenerate its cells to heal itself. Dandelion greens, the same green leaves from the pesky lawn and garden intruder, are available in the organic greens section of our produce department. They’re earthy, nutty and, most of all, bitter.

According to Matt (herbalism speaker), the bitter is good and a sign that the powerful nutrients in dandelion greens are helping the body heal.

If eating the fresh leafy greens is too much to swallow, we also have Traditional Medicinals Everyday Detox tea, which includes dandelion. Enjoy it iced during the hot summer days!

TIP: Fresh dandelion greens are easily made by sautéing in a little olive oil and garlic.

Immune Support: Oregano 
Pungent and peppery oregano has been a staple for years in my homemade pasta sauce; little did I know oregano also holds powerful antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.

According to Matt, oregano contains thymol and carvacrol, two oils that have remarkable bacteria-fighting power. In fact, in my class I learned that oregano is a powerful treatment for tonsillitis and Lyme disease. Oregano is an easy herb to incorporate into the diet and can be found fresh in our produce department, dried in our spice aisle and in capsules in our health and body care department.

TIP: Enjoy fresh oregano sprinkled on salads.

Anti-inflammatory: Turmeric 
Turmeric is a culinary spice that spans cultures. It’s a major ingredient in Indian curries and makes American mustard yellow. According to studies, this brightly colored relative of ginger has a promising disease-preventive agent called curcumin (a powerful antioxidant) that supports an anti-inflammatory reaction in the body.

Inflammation is the body’s response to an imbalance in the body and can be triggered by disease, injury or a diet high in refined carbohydrates. According to Matt, this powerful yellow root just might help reduce inflammatory conditions such as headaches and joint pain. Turmeric can be found dried in our spice aisle or in capsules in our health and body care department.

TIP: Ground turmeric can be added to egg salad, or scrambled tofu, and is a key ingredient in curry.

There’s a whole world of herbs out there to be found throughout our stores. If you’re hungry to learn more about the healing properties of herbs, check out Midwest Herbs and Healing.

Bea James, senior manager of organic, natural and sustainable programs