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The Benefits of Spices

Many everyday spices are actually benefiting your health. Here are six common spices you can use in your cooking to help your body while flavoring your food. You can also find out which of these herbs you can take in capsules and which you can’t. Though these herbs and spices help in cooked foods, it is better if it is raw. If you are using these spices to cook, try sprinkling a little before cooking and some after, depending on the food.

Ginger: Ginger is known by many as an aid to motion sickness and nausea but it has many other health benefits. Ginger fights cancer, lowers high cholesterol levels, several antioxidants contained by ginger are proven to clot the blood, and ginger also helps to prevent heart disease. Ginger may be used for alcoholism, chills, muscular aches and pains. Ginger can be worked into many different dishes and not just in deserts. Fresh ginger root can be peeled and grated and powdered can be sprinkled and added to rice, spicy meat dishes, tofu, or even salads. Just add to taste. Ginger can be found powdered in the spice section or fresh in the veggie section of almost any grocery store. Capsule form can be found in vitamin or health food stores. Ginger tea can always be found in any herb shop and sometimes in grocery stores. Crystallized, candied ginger can be bought at health food or herb shops. It can also be made by following the recipe found at http://homecooking.about.com/od/dessertrecipes/ht/crystalginger.htm

Basil: Basil is a very powerful antispasmodic, is antiviral, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and a decongestant. Basil is said to be helpful for migraines, mental fatigue, and scant menstrual periods. Basil can be relaxing to both smooth and striated muscles, stimulating to the sense of smell, and soothing for insect bites. In almost every past recipe basil is called for. Pesto made from basil is heavenly with pasta and rolls. Basil is available in essential oil, and capsules in health food stores or herb shops. It can always be found dried in the spice section of the grocery store, and sometimes fresh if in season in the fresh veggie section.

Cayenne: Cayenne is considered to be very powerful. Cayenne has the ability to increase blood flow to the sick affected parts of the body. People prone to hypothermia often keep cayenne tincture with them. A couple of drops on the tongue will bring a person turning blue back around to normal. Cayenne owes its hot flavor to a chemical called capsaicin. Cayenne goes very well with cheese, lobster, corn, fish, onion, crab, eggplant, tomatoes, rice, and potatoes. Cayenne is ineffective taken as capsules, and needs to pass through your mouth in its raw form, however unfortunate for your taste buds this may be. Cayenne is available powdered in the spice section of most grocery stores and in tincture form in health food or vitamin stores. It is also available in capsule form, but is not very effective.

Garlic: Garlic is known as nature’s antibiotic. It is also the famous ingredient in many gourmet dishes. Countless studies have been done on garlic finding plenty of information to support garlic’s benefits but nothing has been fully proven to be true. Eating a raw clove of garlic at first sign of sniffles is said to stop the cold from gaining footholds in the body. Garlic contains some properties that help to boost the body’s levels of antioxidants, which act as a defense system against viruses. Many use garlic oil in the ears to get rid of earaches. Garlic also has some properties required to fight cancer. Garlic has been proven to reduce the size of or slow the growth of tumors. Garlic lowers cholesterol levels while raising HDL (good cholesterol) these are only a few of garlic’s many qualities. Garlic powdered or fresh minced adds the right touch to soups, pastas, casseroles, beans, and countless other main dishes. Garlic capsules can be found in health food and vitamin stores.

Cloves: cloves are antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory. In the late 1800s people would stick and apple full of whole cloves to make their houses smell good. Though they kept the apple over long periods of time, the apple didn’t ever go bad because the cloves wouldn’t allow the bacteria to decompose the apple. According to Jean Valnet, MD, clove oil can prevent contagious disease and may treat dental infection, cystitis, nausea, cholera, fatigue, chronic skin disease, bacterial colitis, sores, viral hepatitis, tuberculosis, thyroid dysfunction, rheumatism, dermatitis, hypertension, insect bites, amoebic dysentery, arthritis, bronchitis, diarrhea, acne, headaches, skin cancer, and lymphoma to name only a few. Cloves can only be added to cooking a little bit at a time because of how strong they are. Cloves are often a companion to cinnamon in oatmeal, cookies, breads, rolls, and other thick desert like foods. Whole and powdered dry cloves can almost always be found in the spice section of grocery stores. And the essential oil can be ordered from various companies and sometimes found in health food or vitamin/herb shops.

Cinnamon: Now here is a spice everybody knows. Cinnamon is the main flavoring spice for cookies, oatmeal, sweet breads, sweet rolls, and tons of other popular deserts. Now who’d have thought that all this time we were eating something healthy? Research has found that pathogenic micro-organisms can not live in the presence of cinnamon oil. Cinnamon bark is highly antimicrobial, anti-infectious, and antibacterial, for a wide selection of infections. It is antifungal, and antiviral. Cinnamon may be beneficial for circulation, infections, coughs, exhaustion, respiratory infections, rheumatism, digestion, and warts. Sprinkle cinnamon over your toast to both flavor the bread and take it in its raw form. Cinnamon can be used in capsules, essential oils, and taken in foods.


Essential Oils Integrative Medical Guide, D. Gary Young ND

Dr. Christopher’s Home Health Care, Dr. Christopher