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Having spent thirty years living, working and raising my family on the Island of Spetses, many of the recipes in my food are influenced by local produce herbs and spices. Likewise I often used natural remedies to treat family ailments.
Ancient Greeks believed that any form of disease was punishment by the gods for their wrongdoings. This belief continued until Classical Greek physician Hippocrates shifted ancient Greeks views from spirituality to scientific logic.
Many of the remedies used by the Ancient Greeks are still used today to treat illnesses and medical conditions. Whilst living in Greece I often used these ten proven natural home remedies gifted to us by the ancient Greeks….
1. Olive Trees to Treat Acne
The dominance of Olive trees in Greece are attributed to the goddess Athena, who, legend says, planted a seed into the ground which immediately sprouted up into a beautiful olive tree.
The oil from the Olive tree has been used since ancient times by women to help protect their skin and the skin of their children from sun damage. They crushed the leaves of the olive trees to make a facial paste as a mask for the skin. I used this recipe to treat my son's acne when he turned fourteen.
2. Tomatoes For Prostate Cancer Prevention
The ancient Greeks believed that eating a tomato a day would lessen the chances of men developing prostate cancer, and statistically there is a lower instance of Prostate Cancer in Greece than in other developed countries.
3. Beetroot for Anaemia
The high quantity of iron in beetroot has long been recognised as beneficial to health, the ancient Greeks were the first to recognise its medicinal benefits and used it to treat anaemia and other related blood conditions. They would regularly eat beetroot and drink fresh beetroot juice to help increase red blood cell levels. My mother in law regularly made me a delicious beetroot soup during both my pregnancies and I never had to take additional iron supplements.
4. Mint for Migraine Relief
I was introduced to mint as an aromatherapy treatment in Greece because of its fresh relaxing aroma, again, this too had been adopted by the ancient Greeks and passed down through the generations, and like them I was also encouraged to inhale hot mint infused in water to help relieve headaches. The drinking of Mint tea also provided relief of stomach aches to the ancient Greeks.
5. Alcohol, Honey and Cinnamon Treatments for Cold and Flu
The ancient Greeks consumed an alcohol drink called Tsipouro, often with a spoonful of cinnamon and honey to ease the symptoms of colds and flu. We still practiced this tradition in my Greek home.
6. Fenugreek for Respiratory Ailments and Diabetes
My children's Greek grandmother took a 'fenugreek' supplement to treat her diabetes. This was first used by Ancient Greeks as a part of their cattle-feed to help stimulate the digestion of their cattle and horses. The wise and innovative Hippocrates saw other uses for these herbs and encouraged using fenugreek for the treatment of respiratory issues such as coughs and tuberculosis.
It is also reported that fenugreek was also used to treat rare cases of diabetes in ancient times.
7. Fennel for Weight Loss and Joint Pain
The discovery of fennel as a natural expectorant was made by the ancient Greeks who used it to treat irritating coughs.
They also drank it as herbal tea to help aid weight loss, cramp relief and treat muscle and joint pain.
8. Cumin for Colic
Cumin was one of the most popular and widely used spices in ancient Greek cuisine.
The chewing of cumin seeds was adopted to help counteract the formation of flatulence after eating bean dishes and the seeds were regarded as one of most effective digestive aids during ancient times.
9. Flaxseed to Lower Cholesterol
Used as commonly in ancient times as modern days, flaxseed has been widely recognised to lower cholesterol levels and aid digestion, a favourite of the ancient Greek physicians.
10. Horseradish for Respiratory Infections
Ancient Greeks would chew on horseradish to help get rid of excess phlegm in the lungs during the cold winter months and clear blocked sinuses.