While we’re all waiting for our Hogwarts letter, we can start by finding a little magic in herbology. Since reading Harry Potter to my children every night, the “who are you from Hogwarts” game has been an ongoing thing in our house. I know my own role would be a professor of herbology because after I close the book, I still believe that herbs can be the closest thing we’ve got to magic.
In my Ph.D., I focused exactly on that: I studied herbs and their effects on our body. So while you are still waiting for your own magic to spark, you can hit your nearest market or organic food store and start cooking up some potions. Let me share with you my top 3 herbs and why I believe they are pure magic.
- Triphala for young skin and better digestion
Triphala means “three fruits,” a nutritious food that is made from 3 berries dried and ground. In Ayurvedic tradition, Triphala has been used as a healing tonic for the digestive system: it restores immunity, tackles acidity, and gastric troubles. It can be used by anyone to help have a happy-healthy gut-brain connection.
Modern science is just starting to catch up on this herb with some research pointing at Triphala’s potential antioxidant benefits that help to protect the skin and even fight aging by simulating your youth genes as well as rebuilding skin proteins. This sounds like pure magic to me!
The traditional way to take Triphala is as a tea. To make the tea, just mix ½ teaspoon of Triphala powder in a cup of hot water. After the herb has been stirred, you can now drink it.
- Ashwagandha for your stress-reliever potions This bitter wrinkled root once dried and smashed into powder can help us fight with one of the darkest curses, sent upon modern society: the stress.
A study showed that ashwagandha improves resistance to stress by lowering cortisol levels, so let’s take a closer look at what’s going on there.
Your adrenal gland produces cortisol and adrenaline. These two hormones are responsible for your “fight or flight” mode, which helped our ancestors react to dangerous situations. This mode is absolutely crucial for the survival of a species. When our ancestors faced danger (for example, a wild lion), his or her body mobilized its resources to give an appropriate response. He or she could feel the burst of hormones: blood was pumping, he or she was fully alert and ready to respond immediately.
Even with no lions walking around, you know the feeling. Today we go into fight-or-flight way too many times in a day. We feel it when stuck in a traffic jam, having a conflict with a colleague, or simply reading the news. Our bodies aren’t meant to feel like this so often, so this constant stress adds up to chronic stress.
Ashwagandha is known as an adoption that helps to regulate your body’s stress response. It supports the adrenal gland, almost like a thermostat to help regulate your stress levels so that it does not get too high or too low.
Recipe ideas (aka potions)
Chronic stress symptoms have been on the rise, so we’re seeing ashwagandha gaining popularity in the mainstream, like we’ve seen with Turmeric. And while the local organic cafe hasn’t started serving Ashwagandha infusions, here is a recipe for you to try:
If you are nuts about nut butter, try adding 2 teaspoons of ground ashwagandha per every 2 cups of nuts. The root has slightly bitter taste, but in this proportion taste is balanced. You will enjoy the benefit and not notice much change in taste.
- Cinnamon for blood sugar levels. Yes, yes, yes! You might have been sipping that Cinnamon latte, unaware of it also being a healing potion! Ok, maybe not the one from Starbucks, but there is a way to make that drink properly so that you can enjoy more of the benefits of the spices and less of the sugar rush. But before we jump into recipes, I need you to look at this well-known spice with new eyes.
One of the notable super-powers of this herb is increasing insulin sensitivity in the body. Your sensitivity is higher when you’re young but goes down as you age. As a result, sugar flows in the blood, causing diabetes and other health problems.
Cinnamon comes to the rescue, repairing the receptors, which increasing the body’s response to insulin. As a result, blood sugar levels normalize over time. A Diabetic medicine journal compared effects of cinnamon supplements vs. regular diabetic medication on patients and found that ancient treatment stood the test: those taking cinnamon showed greater improvements in their blood sugar levels.
Recipe ideas (aka potions)
One of the simplest favorites is a warming cinnamon-lemon tea. Start by adding 2 cinnamon sticks and 4-5 cloves into a pot of water. In my family, we love it with traditional black Ceylon tea, but you can use any black tea of your choice. After tea boils, let it cool for a while. When serving in the cup, add some lemon juice and sweeten with a bit of organic or raw local honey. Voila! Your immunity-boosting healthy Cinnamon drink is ready!
Those are my 3 favorites, however, there are much more magic ingredients, hiding on your spice rack, pretending to be nothing but an exotic flavor. I urge you just to open that spice cabinet and get to know your spices. Try one of the potions I recommended today or share your own in the comment below. You’ll see: cooking for your family while aware of spice’s healing properties makes you feel a bit like a modern-day magician (so you might not need that Hogwarts letter after all!)