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Natural cures from the galley

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Do you know where the ship’s medical kit is? It’s not where you might think.

The next time you don’t quite feel yourself, might I redirect you to the new medical kit onboard? The galley. That is where you will find most of the natural cures for what ails you.

People are always looking for natural cures, trying to heal themselves instead of waiting for a doctor to diagnose them or prescribe them a pill. And this is the best sort of medicine for yachties, who are often miles from their doctors. If you feel a cold coming on or a stomach upset seems set to ruin your morning, you can find a cure in the cupboards of the galley.

Your treatment begins with the basic building blocks of food, and that is the vitamins and minerals they inherently contain.

For example, if you suffer from hormonal imbalance, poor immune system, depression, anemia, or eczema, try eating a little more whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts. They all have good amounts of vitamin B6, which can even help with cracking of the lips or tongue.

Vitamin B6 is important to the human body because it is involved in the formation of proteins as well as forming chemical transmitters in the nervous system. The body needs this vitamin for more than 60 enzymes plus the multiplication of all cells and immunity for the body.

Other sources of B6 are bananas, potatoes, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.

If you suffer from low energy, slow metabolism or if your blood sugar is all over the place, maybe your body just needs a little more vitamin B3. Find this vitamin in legumes, whole grains, eggs, and peanuts.
Vitamin B3 is also vital to your body’s detoxification processes, helps with high cholesterol, heals cracking skin and dermatitis, even dementia. Other foods with B3 include milk, avocados, liver and other organ meats, and fish. All are rich with tryptophans, which the body converts into niacin.

If you have asthma or allergies, focus on vitamin C, which has been shown to reduce histamine levels. Vitamin C also helps heal wounds and bruises and gives your immune system a boost. Get vitamin C in all your citrus fruits as well as canteloupe, kiwis and strawberries, plus red and green bell peppers, and those powerful Brussels sprouts again.

Want to correct the imbalances that have wreaked havoc on your body while onboard? Think herbal tonics. These tonics are adaptogenic herbs, which are derived from plant parts. All offer different cures.

* Ashwagandha or Indian Ginseng, or winter cherry as it is known throughout Africa, is used for fatigue or insomnia and to treat lower back pain, arthritis, and stomach upset.
* Asian Ginseng can boost a depleted immune system along with improving cognitive functions
* Siberian Ginseng is used to treat swelling and spasms, and boosts the immune system.
* Traditional Chinese medicine use the reishi mushroom for emotional balance and the calming effect it bestows. It also has the ability to reduce fatigue and contains polysaccharides along with carbohydrates.

Most herbs have some special facet to them. Sage, great for turkey and chicken stuffings, actually will help your memory and it’s a great antibacterial. Peppermint relaxes the smooth muscle of the digestive tract, in case you have an upset stomach, indigestion and/or gas. Thyme, one of my favorite herbs, lowers blood pressure and cleanses the body.

Speaking of detox, lemon can wash a host of impurities out of your system. Drink of glass of lemon water when you wake up and before you go to bed. Infuse thyme leaf for the added benefit.

Here are some other helpful healthful ways to take your medicine:

Adzuki beans are loaded with antioxidants, and may lower your risk of developing heart disease, cancer and stroke. Other attributes include the B vitamins and minerals such as iron and zinc.

Aloe actually increases the absorption of other items that you eat. The juice helps aid in digestion and with Type 2 diabetes. It also contains powerful amounts of antioxidants such as vitamin C, and a superoxide dismutase.

The old slogan “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is still true. When you eat an apple, your body gets a boost of vitamin C, which amps up your immune system and wards off all sorts of nasty germs.

Buckwheat is an herb related to the rhubarb plant. Use it to help curb hunger pains and lose weight. Also, it has magnesium for your muscle and nervous system functions. It’s also a super choice if you are monitoring your blood sugar.

Have arthritis or inflammation? Cure it with hot chili peppers. The capsicum in the peppers not only helps with inflammation but can help prevent blood clots.

Red grapefruit has lycopene, which not only gives the fruit its color but has also been shown to have prostate-fighting capabilities.

Finally for women, throw some sea vegetables into your soups, broths, or buy it already sold as flavor enhancers to replace salt in your diet. It actually contains lignans, which help fight against breast cancer and tumors.

So next time you aren’t feeling your best, take a stroll into your galley to see what might help before you call the first aid clinic.

Mary Beth Lawton Johnson is a certified executive pastry chef and Chef de Cuisine and has worked on yachts for more than 20 years. Comments on this column are welcome at editorial@the-triton.com.

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