January 23, 2017

10 Medicinal Herbs, Oils and Foods of the Bible

by Rob Fischer

This may seem like an unusual theme for an article, but allow me to explain my perspective. When we begin to delve into the wonders of the natural world, it’s absurd to me to think that this all could have happened “by chance.” There are simply too many variables; too many contingencies; too many dependencies in nature to try to explain their intricacies and interdependencies on happenstance.

Instead, I firmly believe that what we enjoy in nature today is the work of our Creator. I believe, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) I also believe that God continues to sustain and uphold all things and that He is active in our lives whether we choose to acknowledge Him or not. Psalm 104:13-15 bears this out beautifully in poetic form:

medicine of the bibleHe waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work. He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts.[1]

If this perspective is true, then it should come as no surprise to us that our Creator has provided for us some amazing natural remedies. Some of these are so accessible that we can pluck them from the garden or the forest. Others require a refining process of some kind and we wonder, “How in the world did mankind ever discover this?”

When we look at some of the healing herbs and oils of the Bible, I caution us not to award them any special prominence. While some of the Bible is prescriptive (telling us how we should live), much of it is descriptive (telling us how people of that era and locale lived). And in the case of these herbs, oils and foods, certainly these represent gifts from God to us, but they are not “God’s prescription” for us.

The Bible and the herbs and oils it describes center around the Middle East and ancient times. The people of that day used what was at hand. In other parts of the world and in other climates we enjoy some of the same herbs and oils, but also many different ones not available in the Middle East.

So what makes the herbs and oils of the Bible so special? It’s simply the wonder of knowing that those who lived thousands of years before us struggled with many of the same health issues that we face. Even back then, they enjoyed an amazing natural medicine chest stocked for them by their (and our) loving Creator, God. And we can enjoy these too.

10 Medicinal Herbs, Oils and Foods of the Bible

1. Dill

If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering, “What’s dill good for besides making dill pickles?” Matthew 23:23 mentions dill as an herb that was commonly grown in Bible times. As an herb, dill grows in many places all over the world. You may even grow it in your herb garden. Dill is extremely versatile and both the seeds and leaves are used in foods and medicines.

Dill’s medicinal values come primarily from monoterpenes compounds, flavonoids, minerals and amino acids.[2] These components act as an antioxidant and neutralize particular types of carcinogens, such as the smoke generated from roasting, grilling, charring or frying food.

health benefits of dill

Dill has been effective in the relief of:

  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Dysentery
  • Menstrual disorders
  • Respiratory issues
  • Fungal and bacterial infections

Dill can also:

  • Boost the immune system and digestion
  • Help prevent arthritis and even cancer
  • Promote bone health
  • Help manage insulin levels in those with diabetes[3], [4], [5]

Make dill tea by crushing two teaspoons of dill seeds, steeping them in a cup of boiling water for ten minutes, and then straining.[6] You can also simply chew on dill seeds to reap their health benefits. Dill essential oil and dried dill leaves are also available as supplements.

2. Mint

Like dill, mint is also referred to in that passage in Matthew’s Gospel. Most of us are aware of the fresh, cool flavor of mint that’s used today in a wide variety of applications. But mint also packs some amazing health benefits. Of all foods known to mankind, mint is one of the highest in antioxidants.[7]

  • Mint also possesses anti-inflammatory properties due to rosmarinic acid. This compound is noted for its ability to provide relief from seasonal allergies and keep breathing airways open.[8]
  • Mint’s natural aromatic ingredient menthol helps relieve the common cold, indigestion, nausea, gas, and irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Peppermint extract is also an excellent pain reliever.
  • Mint oil can also provide relief from insect bites and rashes.[9]
  • Mint aroma is also known to calm a person suffering depression or fatigue.[10]

You can chew mint leaves, make a tea from its leaves by steeping dried leaves for 10 minutes, or applying mint oil according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

3. Cumin

This herb is the third one mentioned in that Matthew passage above. The active ingredients in cumin include cuminaldehyde and thymol. In particular, these two compounds activate the salivary glands that help digest food and relieve the distress of gas. This seed of good digestion stimulates the secretion of pancreatic enzymes, compounds necessary for proper digestion and nutrient assimilation. Cumin seeds and cumin essential oil pressed from its seeds provide its health benefits.

Cumin is used to treat:

  • Piles
  • Insomnia
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Anemia
  • Skin disorders and boils
  • Cancer (protects against stomach or liver tumors)

Additionally, cumin has anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties.[11] It also improves the immune system.[12]

You can make a tea by boiling two teaspoons of cumin seeds in water and steeping for ten minutes. Or, introduce cumin into your cooking by grinding cumin seeds to a powder using a mortar and pestle. Cumin compliments garbanzo beans, black beans, brown rice, as well as vegetables. Cumin seed essential oil is also available.

4. Rue

Rue, a less common herb, is mentioned in Luke 11:42. Rue grows wild or cultivated and displays a pretty yellow flower. Today, rue flourishes wild across North America in zones 6 through 11. Rue is more of a shrub than a plant and grows up to two feet tall.[13]

Rue is a good source of flavonoids and boasts an impressive set of medicinal compounds. Rue possesses properties as an antidote to poison, an anti-arthritic, anti-rheumatic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, insecticidal, sedative, digestive, anti-epileptic, and anti-hysteric.[14]

Rue is effective in relieving joint pain due to arthritis and rheumatism. In smoke or mist form it serves as an excellent insect repellant. It can also kill microbes and prevent bacterial infections. Rue essential oil can prove very effective against:

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How to Add Essential Oils to Your Workout

When it comes to exercise, there’s a lot more at play than simply lacing up our running shoes and going out for a jog.  There are a number of factors we need to consider to ensure that we actually follow through with our exercise plan and that our experience is positive.

We may not always consciously think about these factors, but often have them pre-built into our routines. Regardless of the particular form of exercise that we choose, we are probably concerned about:

  • how to add essential oils to your workoutDeveloping healthy routines
  • Making our workout as pleasant as possible
  • Improving stamina
  • Staying hydrated
  • Preventing strains and sprains
  • Maintaining energy and endurance
  • Preventing/minimizing muscle fatigue
  • Overcoming post-workout soreness
  • Avoiding risk of injury

What we may not have considered before now is that aromatherapy can help address any and all of the above challenges. Because many oils have antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties they are a great addition to your exercise routine and help you stay in great form. For instance, merely introducing a pleasant-smelling essential oil into your workout routine can evoke a desire to engage in that routine more consistently. Let’s consider some other ways that aromatherapy can complement your of plan and become a part of preventative medicine for any sport enthusiast young or old, blue ribbon winner or beginner.

How does Aromatherapy Play into Fitness?

Aromatherapy, as a complementary alternative medicine, neither takes the place of exercise itself nor serves as a substitute for heeding other important factors associated with exercise like eating right, getting plenty of sleep, and not overdoing it when we exercise. Any one of those factors can significantly impact how we feel during and after a workout. Aromatherapy won’t replace any of these essentials, but it can augment them beautifully.

Consider the following applications:

Peppermint oil

In 2013, a small study was published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Twelve healthy male students drank one 500 ml bottle of mineral water mixed with 0.05 ml peppermint essential oil for ten days. Various readings were taken before and after the 10-day period.

Researchers found that peppermint oil proved effective on exercise performance, gas analysis, spirometry parameters, blood pressure, and respiratory rate of all twelve students.[1] In other studies, peppermint essential oil used as aromatherapy has been shown to raise the pain threshold, lower perceived physical workload, effort and anxiety.

Eucalyptus, wintergreen and cypress oils

Following a hard workout, mix these essential oils with a neutral carrier oil like coconut or grape seed oil and work the mixture into your sore muscles for relief.[2]

frankincense and ginger essential oils reduce inflammationFrankincense and ginger oils

Together, these two essential oils help reduce inflammation and support joints. Mix with a carrier oil and rub onto sore joints or to knead out the inflammation from a cramp.[3]

Lavender oil

After a hard workout, you want to allow your body the rest and relaxation it needs to recover and replenish itself. Lavender oil applied aromatically, in bathwater, or topically as a lotion can help you achieve the relaxation you need.[4]

Oregano or melaleuca oil

A downside of working out in a public gym is the likelihood of picking up a fungus in the locker room like athlete’s foot. Oregano or melaleuca oil with their powerful antifungal properties can help prevent and remedy such an outbreak.[5]

Eucalyptus oil

In preparation for a workout, mix eucalyptus oil with a carrier oil and apply it to your neck, throat and temples. This will improve circulation and help open up your airways.[6] If you suffer from asthma or allergies, eucalyptus oil can provide relief following a workout as well.

Lemon oil

This essential oil may be the most powerful anti-microbial oil of them all. This oil assists in the breakdown of fat, stimulates lymph drainage, quenches the thirst, and protects the immune system.[7]

How to Add Essential Oils to Your Workout

Typically, essential oils are inhaled, applied topically to the skin, or ingested, although this is not as common in the US and should only be done under the supervision of a professional.

Inhale essential oils using a diffuser, by placing oil directly on a cotton ball or tissue, via steam, or through a mist sprayed into the air.[8]

When applying essential oils topically, most oils must be diluted with a carrier oil or water, usually at a concentration ratio of no more than 3-5%. And for a whole body application (bath or massage), dilute the oil to a 1% solution.[9]

Can you exercise without essential oils? Certainly! But I’ve given you seven good reasons to complement your exercise routine with essential oils. These oils can provide relief from debilitating pain, boost your performance, increase circulation, and can make your workout more pleasurable.

Most of us wouldn’t go out for a run without the proper equipment. Perhaps the essential oils hold a place in the category of “proper equipment!” Why not test them out and see for yourself.

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Rob_FischerRob Fischer has been writing professionally for over 35 years. His experience includes writing curricula, study guides, articles, blogs, newsletters, manuals, workbooks, training courses, workshops, and books. Rob has written for numerous churches, for Burlington Northern Railroad, Kaiser Aluminum, and Barton Publishing. He has also trained managers in effective business writing. Rob holds two Master’s degrees, both focused heavily on writing. Rob has published eleven books and serves as an editor and ghostwriter for other authors.


[1] Abbas Meamarbashi and Ali Rajabi, “The Effects of Peppermint on Exercise Performance,” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 21 March 2013, http://www.jissn.com/content/10/1/15.
[2] Dr. Axe, “101 Essential Oil Uses and Benefits,” nd, http://draxe.com/essential-oil-uses-benefits/.
[3] Dr. Axe, “Dr. Axe’s Essential Oils Guide,” nd, http://draxe.com/essential-oils-guide/.
[4] Dr. Axe, “Dr. Axe’s Essential Oils Guide.”
[5] Dr. Axe, “Dr. Axe’s Essential Oils Guide.”
[6] WikiHow, “How to Use Aromatherapy During a Workout,” nd, http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Aromatherapy-During-a-Workout.
[7] Dr. Axe, “Top 10 Lemon Essential Oil Uses and Benefits,” nd, http://draxe.com/lemon-essential-oil-uses-benefits/.
[8] University of Minnesota, “How Do I Choose and Use Essential Oils?” nd, http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/aromatherapy/how-do-i-choose-and-use-essential-oils.
[9] University of Minnesota.

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