Jo-Ann Boepple: Horseradish, crystals the cure for what ails you

Published 9:13 pm Thursday, October 27, 2011

What do horseradish root, ginger, crystals, garlic and castor oil have in common? No, they are not the ingredients for a salad. They are all a part of the current display at the Edwardsburg Museum.
This month the museum is spotlighting alternative medicines. Alternative medicines have become very popular and continuing the museum’s theme of health for this year, it seems appropriate to display some items that are a part of the alternatives to regular medicines.
Everyone knows that there are many quack formulas designed to take your money but there are many alternatives that have been proven effective. Much of their success depends on the belief that they can help.
Items were brought in for the display at the Edwardsburg Museum that have been used by local residents and others.
How does horseradish contribute to our health? There are many attributes credited to horseradish. First, because of its strong taste, many are cautious in using it. However, it has been effective in heating up the body and stimulating the body’s immune system. It also is useful in opening the nasal passageways.
In growing horseradish, care must be taken in handling the roots, which can cause a severe burning sensation especially when grating it. Frankly, I like my horseradish in a sauce slathered on my prime rib.
Ginger is another plant that is credited with multiple medicinal uses. It is a remedy for travel sickness, nausea and indigestion, boosts circulation and lowers blood pressure. Ginger is an anti-viral and makes a warming cold and flu remedy. It also helps ease joint pain.
Pumpkin pie season is coming; try adding a little ginger to your pie or bring out the ginger snaps for dessert.
Garlic is both a food and a medicine. Garlic is used in preventing heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and to boost the immune system. It may also help to protect against cancer.
Garlic is available in many forms: fresh, dried, freeze dried, garlic oil or extract. Many people take it in capsule form, but most people use it fresh in cooking not for its medicinal properties but for its taste especially in Italian dishes. It has a distinctive flavor and odor.
In my younger days I remember kids in my classes wearing an onion or a garlic bulb on a shoestring around their neck. It was to keep disease away and it kept other kids away.
Castor oil is another plant derivative. It is extracted from the castor bean seed. It has an unpleasant taste and is not used in foods but in other items such as cosmetics, soaps, medicines and massaging oils.
Castor oil is considered a great remedy for multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, hair loss and pain from arthritis and rheumatism. It helps with yeast infections, constipation, menstrual problems, migraines, acne, sunburn, athlete’s foot, ringworm and inflammation. It was commonly used to induce labor.
It is considered a natural treatment for wrinkles because it smooths and hydrates the skin.
But the side effect of castor oil is its taste. I remember the taste in orange juice when my doctor prescribed it for me to induce labor for one of my children.
A large display of crystals is a part of the museum display. Most people think of crystals in the decorative sense. Crystals are used in jewelry but they too have healing properties.
These are not of the plant family but are formed by fluids or materials that have dissolved in liquid and dried. It is a chemical process that contains specialized properties.
Why are all of these in the alternative healing exhibit?  Crystals are placed on the body in different locations. It is said that they direct the flow of energy to a particular part of the body and bring balance to a person’s energy. They can clean out the negative energy believed to cause illness.
Crystals can be worn, placed next to a person’s bed or surround their bath. Not only do they have healing properties, but they are beautiful to look at. The museum has an extensive collection on display.
These are only a few of the items in the exhibit of alternative medicines and they will be on display until Nov. 9.