Healthy Holistic Living

8 Foods in Your Pantry You Don’t Realize Are Medicine


You might be surprised to learn that you have your own personal nutritionist and doctor both rolled into one sitting comfortably on your pantry shelves. Our foods hold the key to better health, faster recovery, and, of course, fuller flavor.

Since the dawn of time humans and animals alike have been treating various ailments simply with the food they eat, the nutrients they take, and the effects these have on the body. In fact, the word ‘drug’ originally comes from the words ‘dried plants’.

Using foods as medicine not only means remedies are closer to hand, but they are much cheaper than prescription medicine, and natural remedies will help promote a healthier body.

Pantry Foods

These remedies are at our fingertips in our daily lives, you just have to know what to use and when. Here we explore some of our most common pantry herbs, spices, and ingredients, and what they can do for your health.

pantry remedy herbs spices



Basil has been used for centuries as a digestive aid, relieving gas and speeding digestion. Originating in India, the spicy herb actually increases your body temperature, helping lower feverish symptoms through sweating, and warming up and mobilizing stiff arthritic joints.

Basil is really easy to introduce into the diet through foods such as pesto, or simply introducing the leaf into salads. If you’re suffering from a headache, you can try chewing on the fresh leaves to alleviate it.

Black Pepper

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Surprisingly, this common condiment has a range of benefits for the body and is super easy to sprinkle through your dishes on a daily basis. You can reduce any pain from trapped gas using black pepper, thanks to its carminative properties as well as increasing circulation, and lowering blood pressure. Black pepper has also been used to relieve sinus congestion, and prevents the destruction of other antioxidants in the body.


This tasty spice is very easy to introduce into a diet thanks to its distinctive taste commonly used in desserts or in hot drinks. Cinnamon has been used to help circulation and aid digestion, and for any ladies experiencing period cramps, by taking up to 10 grams of cinnamon a day for the two days leading up to and during menstruation, you can really help alleviate some of the pain!



If you are experiencing painful or trapped gas, try brewing a tea with 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds in a cup of hot water, as fennel is wonderful for treating flatulence in adults. It is also known to promote lactation, which is useful for breastfeeding women. As a bonus, fennel has also been known to increase libido! If you would prefer to steam fennel stalks and consume them in this way, you will find a much milder effect in comparison to the seeds.


This wonder-herb provides a large range of benefits to your health, and though the whole plant including its seeds can be used for food, you will find the main herbal uses come from the leaf.

Most commonly found garnishing garlicky meals, parsley is well known for its halitosis-reducing properties. Including it in your own pungent meals, or simply chewing on some of the fresh herbs, you will find a breath-freshening effect.

Crushing it and applying it to a bruise externally will speed up the healing process, and it also inhibits the release of histamine so can be useful for hives or allergies.

Parsley is a rich source of boron and fluorine, and contains a huge amount of vitamin C and calcium, all of which are critical for healthy bones. These, combined with high levels of magnesium and potassium also make it an effective treatment for cramps such as leg cramps.



Historically, thyme has been used to treat headaches due to the antiviral and antispasmodic properties of one of its components, thymol. Used primarily as a tea, thyme is known as a general antimicrobial, which means it’s pretty helpful at treating diseases like the flu.

Whole Foods

Beyond herbs and spices, there are some whole foods that have some pretty impressive properties with positive health benefits when introduced into your daily diet.


Tomatoes have been the subject of some recent studies that have shown how they can protect your skin from UV damage and sunburn. This is down to their antioxidant content, specifically lycopene, and in the West 85% of this antioxidant we get from tomatoes alone. Please remember to continue to wear sunscreen when exposed to UV rays though.


These are a really easy food to introduce more of into our diets and they add a nice depth of flavor to dishes. If you suffer from asthma, onions contain a variety of anti-inflammatory compounds which can improve asthmatic symptoms. They are also the richest of all foods in a powerful anti-inflammatory compound, quercetin, which can relieve allergies by inhibiting inflammatory processes.

Simply by adding a new ingredient here, or substituting one herb for another there, you can very quickly create a menu that works for your body’s health on a daily basis. We all eat three meals a day (not to mention snacks in between!) so why not plan for a diet that will not only help prevent ill health further down the line, but can alleviate any symptoms you might have right now, having you reaching for the food cupboard rather than the medicine cupboard.


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