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umanity has had a

long relationship with

various herbs, spices

and plants as regards

to their medicinal

properties. At the root of many common

over-the-counter tablets are compounds

from herbs and plants. Research recently

published in the Journal of Herbal

Medicine (official publication of the

National Institute of Medical Herbalists)

gave more indication that six plants

found in Borneo are potential therapies

for various diseases. The plants were

individually screened for antimicrobial

and antifungal effects using their crude

extracts and were found to inhibit a broad

range of pathogenic micro-organisms.

Commenting on the research, Laura

Stannard, President of the National

Institute of Medical Herbalists*, has

commented, "Research is continually

showing the important and valuable role

medicinal plants play in supporting us

through illness. Wherever we look in the

world we find herbal medicine is used to

help people get well and stay well. With

the approaching crisis in antibiotics it

makes sense that health professional give

serious consideration to the antimicrobial

protection offered by medicinal plants.

Medical herbalists have used medicinal

plants to combat infections for hundreds




of years. Many less serious infections

are amenable to treatment with herbal

medicines. A medical herbalist can work

with patients to improve general health

and well-being with the aim of reducing

their susceptibility to infections. This

means that our important antibiotics

are available for more serious and life

threatening infections. Herbal medicine

has the potential to transform the current

bleak outlook and constitutes a significant

untapped resource to combat disease."

*The National Institute of Medical

Herbalists is the UK's leading professional

body representing herbal practitioners,

maintaining a register of individual

members, setting the profession's

educational standards and running

an accreditation system for training

establishments. It was first established

as the National Association of Medical

Herbalists in 1864 and celebrates its

150th anniversary in 2014.

As well as the proven (and potential)

medicinal application of herbs (either

ingested or in the form of aromatherapy

for creams, bath oils or even poultices

many of us keep a few herbs on a

windowsill for the express purposes of

adding to our foods in order to up the

flavour while avoiding any uplift in blood

sugar levels. In the last issue we took a

long look at cinnamon and its apparently

moderating affect on blood glucose levels

especially in Type 2 diabetes.

The great thing about herbs and

spices is that they can add so much to

a dish without adding sugar or salt, and

there are endless possible combinations,

thought some of the tried-and-tested are

the best!

Spice and herb bible

Writer of the Spice and Herb Bible, Ian

Hemphill, says that "Cooks use spices

and herbs not only to enhance food's

flavour, but also to create new taste

combinations and sensations. From bay

leaves to lemongrass to vanilla beans,

it is virtually impossible to imagine a

well- stocked kitchen without herbs and


Ian is based in his native Australia

where he runs Herbie's Spices, which

boasts the largest selection of herbs

and spices for sale and export in the

Above, Spice and herb Bible

author Ian Hemphill. Right,

Indian Butter Chicken. For

recipe, see overleaf.


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