Healing Spices

Posted on Dec 9, 2013 in Research

Rich in phytochemicals, many herbs and spices serve as anti-inflammatory superfoods. Stock your spice cabinet with the following and it’ll double as an all-natural medicine cabinet!

Basil— Researchers from the University of Michigan have shown that holy basil has anti-inflammatory activity compared to aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Traditional basil contains a compound called eugenol, which eases muscle spasms. Basil can help relieve gas and soothe a turbulent tummy.

Cayenne—What doesn’t this spice do? Capsaicin, the source of cayenne’s bite is the main ingredient in many commercial treatments for arthritis and muscle pain. It’s also used to relieve pain from shingles. It’s thought to be an anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant—and even antidiabetic! The ancient Maya used this fiery spice to treat pain from mouth sores and inflamed gums.

Cinnamon—Perhaps best known for its ability to significantly lower blood sugar with as little as 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon a day, cinnamon is beneficial for diabetics. Cinnamon bark contains an oily chemical called cinnamaldehyde, which is a potent antibacterial that also helps reduce anxiety. Cinnamon bark helps regulate the menstrual cycle. It’s also high in fiber!

Ginger—Known most for its ability to help with nausea and motion sickness, ginger increases digestive fluids and absorbs and neutralizes toxins and stomach acid. In addition, ginger helps ease inflammation in the body, with positive effects on arthritis and migraines. As an anti-inflammatory, it may also play a role in preventing and slowing the growth of cancer. Fresh ginger root keeps in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. To keep it longer, freeze it.

Mint— Its leaves have been used for hundreds of years to soothe digestive problems, which is why peppermint tea is such a common after-dinner drink. Recent studies show it has positive effects on IBS and flatulence, and because it also relaxes the esophagus, it allows for relief of gas through belching. The same property that relaxes the airways, menthol, is responsible for fighting bacteria and viruses.

Sage—An unsung hero, sage is well known for its place in the culinary world, but it deserves recognition as a potent healer. It improves hot flashes, enhances memory, and can soothe an upset stomach. Studies have shown antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and astringent properties.

Turmeric—A powerful anti-inflammatory, tumeric’s effects have been compared to that of topical hydrocortisone! The chemical responsible for its deep orange-yellow color is curcumin, a proven anticancer agent. Recent studies show turmeric can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Fresh Spices Are Effective Spices

Choose fresh spices, as most of the benefit is in the volatile oils. Spices should be colorful and pungent. If it looks or smells bland, toss it. Also choose spices from a reliable vendor. Poor quality spices are often contaminated with bacteria and insect parts, pesticides, and heavy metals. Check out the resources section below for recommended pure spice vendors.



Mountain Rose Herbs

The Atlantic Spice Company

The Herb Shoppe