COMMUNITY-Healthy-CookHerbalize your medicine cabinet: 9 common foods and spices to take care of the winter sniffles and more
by Leora Dappen

Natural remedies have been used for millennia to promote good health. Spice combinations have traditionally been used for medicine as well as for food preservation. Indian curry and chai mix are great examples of this. Herbs and common foods have also been widely utilized to treat an array of health conditions for centuries. Many cultures around the world still depend on natural medicine exclusively.

As a Certified Holistic Nutrition Professional, I have clients asking me every day what natural remedy I suggest to get rid of this pain or that sniffle. My answer almost always starts with: “Go to your kitchen cupboard.”

I have been using simple foods, herbs, spices and nutritional supplements for my family for over 20 years — for everything from allergies to zits. They are safe, cheap, and highly effective.

It is very empowering for me to treat my family safely and effectively with products I normally put on the dinner table. No appointments, no negative side effects, and no drug interactions.

Here are a few of my favorites:


A teaspoon of honey may prove to be more effective than the leading cough syrups at calming coughs and soothing a sore, scratchy throat. Raw, organic, local honey has extremely beneficial medicinal properties. It is a natural analgesic and has high amounts of hydrogen peroxide. Manuka honey from New Zealand is found to have potent antibacterial properties. With the increase of antibiotic resistant Superbugs, scientists are in a mad dash to replicate the antibiotics produced by bee saliva, but to no avail. I tended 134 beehives a couple of summers ago among thousands of acres of organic sweet clover. It was a privilege and honor. Bees are magnificent creatures, worthy of reverence.

Thyme is frequently found in Italian and Mediterranean food. It is a powerful expectorant, breaking up phlegm in the lungs preventing further congestion. It also has anticoagulant, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.

Cinnamon can help increase metabolism and balance blood sugar. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, anticoagulant, and calming to the belly.

Entire books are written on this “wonder spice”. It is the spice that gives Indian curry its color. It is incredibly anti-inflammatory, helping with a myriad of health conditions. It is anti-parasitic and also extremely anti-carcinogenic. I take it morning and night, plus cook with it all the time.

Cayenne pepper revs up metabolism; it may get rid of ulcers; and is effective against congestion and shortens the severity of the common cold. It is also an anticoagulant and blood purifier. Mix cayenne pepper in a cup of hot water with juice of one lemon and teaspoon of honey.

Ginger is excellent for calming a sour stomach, bloating, and gas. It may be the best remedy for air and seasickness as well as morning sickness. It also helps maintain blood pressure and healthy cholesterol levels. It is anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-parasitic, antifungal, anticoagulant and blood purifying.

Garlic was called Russian Penicillin during World War II. It may be a common plant, but garlic has a lot to offer: it is not only antibacterial, but also antiviral, anti-parasitic, antifungal, antimicrobial and anticoagulant. It can help regulate blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. It is my favorite crop to grow.

This wonderful Mexican herb is best known in the Natural Health world as being specific for chelating heavy metals out of the body.  Heavy metal toxicity is epidemic in this country from pesticides, power plants, and car emissions.

This humble herb has incredible antibacterial properties. Oregano oil has become a go-to remedy for many people at the first signs of a cold or flu. It also has blood-cleansing and anticoagulant properties.


The list above is far from inclusive. There are many “functional foods” in your kitchen cupboard that support health in an safe and efficient way. Make a conscious choice to integrate these foods into your daily meals and feel empowered knowing that you are boosting the health of your family — naturally, safely, and effectively.

Happy, Healthy Eating!

Leora Dappen__099 - 5 x 7ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Leora Dappen is a Natural Health Practitioner and Board
Certified Holistic Nutrition Professional.  She received her
Masters of Science in Holistic Nutrition in 2009 and currently
works with private clients at the Healing Arts Center located at
1065 5th Ave. N. in Naples, Fl.