Spices and herbs can have healing properties that complement traditional medicine.
Turmeric gives curry powder its yellow color. In India, it has been used for centuries to aide in digestion and stimulate appetite. Curcumin found in turmeric is a strong cancer fighter, suppressing the inflammation that contributes to tumor growth. In addition, studies show turmeric helps stop the growth and spread of cancer cells that do form. Turmeric is also antibacterial and influential in treating antibiotic resistant bacteria. Likewise, the formation of amyloid associated with Alzheimer’s.
An exotic seasoning, it serves as an antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, and antioxidant. It contains high levels of shikimic acid, which serves as an important precursor for antiviral compounds such as the one found in the prescription drug Tamiflu®. Compounds found in star anise are effective against 67 strains of drug-resistant bacteria and its antioxidant properties have been found effective in inhibiting carcinogenesis by reducing free radicals. A word of caution, only use Chinese star anise (Illicium verum) for medicinal properties as the Japanese one (Illicium anisatum) is toxic.
Sage is nature’s metaformin, a drug designed to help Type-2 diabetics boost insulin response and lower blood sugar. In addition, memory enhancing properties along with protective agents guards against changes in the brain leading to Alzheimer’s disease. Sage has the ability to improve mood, increase alertness, and create a calm, content state.
Cayenne is an anti-inflammatory and has antioxidant properties. It shrinks the vessels in your nose and throat, relieving congestion. Cayenne is also good for arthritis and diabetic nerve pain. Research has shown that it improves insulin sensitivity and lowers blood sugar. A dieter’s friend, it has the ability to boost your metabolism by 10 percent two hours after consumption.
Ginger reduces pain and swelling in people with arthritis. It has also been found helpful for use against migraines by blocking the inflammatory substances prostaglandins. Like cousin turmeric, ginger may also play a role in preventing and slowing the growth of cancer. Ginger works in the digestive tract boosting digestive juices and neutralizing acids as well as reducing intestinal contractions. Ginger may be used as an anti-nausea preparation.
Ceylon Cinnamon is a wonder spice. It contains strong antibacterial properties and is effective in fighting ulcer-causing stomach bacteria such H. pylori, E. coli, and other pathogens. In clinical research, Ceylon cinnamon has been shown to lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar and balance female hormones. This is not the standard western cinnamon found in desserts and breads. Instead, Ceylon is the true cinnamon, much milder in flavor and contains a lower amount of coumarin, which is a blood thinning substance. Ceylon can help prevent blood clots and for people already taking prescription blood thinning drugs, this lowers the chances for bleed risks. It’s also high in fiber (it comes from the bark of a tree) and can reduce heartburn in some people. For diabetics, adding as little as ¼ to ½ teaspoon of Ceylon cinnamon daily may cut total cholesterol levels.
Beet Powder is a source of phytonutrients, that remove toxins and aid in circulation. Made by drying whole beet roots, and then grinding them into a fine powder, it’s a whole food, and contains all of the fibrous material from the beet. Another version is made by extracting the juice from the beets and then drying the juice into a fine powder that’s it’s highly concentrated and more potent.
Fenugreek is a plant that tastes similar to maple syrup. As an herb, it can be used dried or as a leaf and the seeds as a spice. It’s commonly used to fight many mucus-forming conditions, including sinusitis. It aids in cleansing the mucus membranes, helping the sinus cavity to properly drain by restoring the normal blood flow to the nasal passages, alleviating nasal congestion and sinus pressure pain. It also slows the absorption of sugar and has been used to promote milk flow in women who are breast feeding.
Cloves contain eugenol, an anti-inflammatory agent that’s a COX-2 inhibitor. Both cloves and Celebrex target stopping the COX-2 protein. The combined anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of cloves protect against heart disease, lower risk factors for some cancer, and slows cartilage and bone damage caused by arthritis. Similar to cinnamon, compounds found in cloves have improved insulin function. Gently chewing whole cloves can ease the pain of a toothache. In addition to the numbing effect, it also has antibacterial properties. New research has also indicated clove oil may be beneficial in fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Garlic is a mucokinetic agent and a plant in the onion family. A flavorable addition to many dishes, it also can be eaten raw or added to tea to reduce nasal congestion. It contains a compound called allicin that can help boost the immune system, reduce blood pressure and lower LDL cholesterol.
NOTE: Before beginning any new diet or health regiment, talk to your doctor about benefits and risks, interactions with current medications, etc.