Spices and Herbs:
Do They Have Healing Properties?
DK. After reading several medical publications stating they do, I will say yes. After digesting what I read, I have purchased basil, oregano, mint and rosemary plants. Besides the possible health benefits, they add a lot of delicious flavors to food!
This rosemary tip is amazing and according to the U.S. Department of
Agriculture is true! Their studies showed that this common kitchen herb “MAY” work just as well as the Alzheimer’s drug tacrine (brand name is Cognex).
Sometimes called the “herb of remembrance,” rosemary contains 5 different compounds that prevent the breakdown of a neurotransmitter that is deficient in patients with Alzheimer’s.
Here are recommendations for use:
Lovely added flavor to fish and chicken dishes.
D.K. Since rosemary can be absorbed through the skin, you might try tossing rosemary sprigs into your bath. What I have done is pulverized rosemary in my Vitamix and add to my bathwater. Sometimes I add Epsom salts as well for the extra magnesium. I find that bath recipe relaxing and delightful!!!
On to medical professionals thoughts on herbs and spices………
The Healing 5…by Bharat B Aggarwal., PhD
Dr. Aggarwal is a biochemist born and raised in India and shares his passion for aromatic spices and their extraordinary health benefits. He works at the University of Texas MD Anderson center in Houston. Dr. Aggarwal is a professor of cancer research, biochemistry, immunology, and experimental therapeutics, and director of Cytokine Research Laboratory.
D.K. Wow, what credentials! When I read his background I really wanted to share his information with you. If you try any of these spices with good results, would you please share them with me so I can pass them on.
I would really appreciate your input. Thank you!!!
He shares, “Five favorites, available in any grocery store, that can help treat and prevent a surprising number of diseases.”
Health Benefit: Reduces Inflammation
“Turmeric is a kitchen staple in India, found in just about every dish that crosses the table- a fact that has not been lost on researchers, who observed 30 years ago that the incidence of chronic illnesses among people in India is significantly lower than in most Western countries, especially the United States.
“Turmeric owes its preventive and curative characteristics to its active ingredient curcumin, a compound so diverse and powerfully rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions that thousands of studies have shown that it protects and improves the health of virtually every organ in the body.
In fact, wide research shows that turmeric, taken as supplemental curcumin is as effective and, in some cases, even more effective than pharmaceutical drugs- without their side effects.
Recently, my colleagues and I compared curcumin with anti-inflammatory and pain-killing medications. And we compared curcumin with cancer drugs, testing those agents for their effectiveness in reducing inflammation and stopping the proliferation of cancer cells.
Curcumin proved to be more effective at reducing inflammation than over-the -counter aspirin and ibuprofen, and as effective as the more powerful prescription drug Celebrex”
“It also proved as effective in thwarting breast cancer cells as tamoxifen, a drug widely used to stop the spread or recurrence of breast cancer. These results are nothing less than astounding”
“If I only had one single herb to depend upon for all possible health and dietary needs, I would chose the Indian spice turmeric,” says David Frawley, PhD., founder and director of the American Institute for Vedic Studies in Santa Fe, N.M.
- Before sautéing vegetables or making stir-fry, heat oil in a pan and sprinkle it with turmeric, stirring for a few seconds so it toasts a bit but doesn’t burn.
- Add turmeric to fried onions (one study found that onions and turmeric work together, synergistically to protect against cancer.
- Use turmeric generouly in lentils or dal dishes.
- Blend in melted butter and drizzle over cooked vegetables.
- Add a teaspoon of turmeric to homemade chili.
- Eat more yellow mustard, which contains turmeric.
- Whole turmeric can be found at Whole Foods and some grocery stores. I wash the turmeric and put a piece of it (unpeeled) in my daily green juices.
- The following tumeric recipe was shared during my educational visit to Sanoviv Medical Institute. The institute claims it is:
“Golden milk is an ayurvedic healing tea that has long been enjoyed. Studies at the University of Texas suggested it is useful in preventing cancers, an as a treatment against heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis , a topic dermatitis, and arthritis.”
Golden Milk Recipe
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 cup almond or other nut milk
- 1-2 tablespoons of almond oil (optional)
- pinch of cardamon and cinnamon
- raw honey (to taste)
Directions: Boil water and turmeric in small saucepan over medium-high heat for 8 minutes. (The turmeric must be fully cooked.) Meanwhile, bring the nut or rice milk to boiling point in a separate pan then remove from heat.
As an option, you can add some almond oil, some ground cardamon and honey. Combine the 2 mixtures.
“Cardamon is effective in improving digestion, relieving stomach cramps and gas. It helps with cleansing the body, as it has detoxifying properties. Cardamon enhances appetite and provides relief from acidity in the stomach. It is used in the cure of halitosis. It is beneficial for those suffering from various kinds of allergies. It also improves mental strength and relieves tension.
- Coriander: Health benefits: Eases Digestive Discomfort
Two of the volatile oils contained in coriander seed are powerful, cell- protecting antioxidants. They are probably behind many of coriander’s curative powers, including its ability to soothe digestive ailments.
Researchers have found that coriander works like an antispasmodic drug, relaxing the contracted digestive muscles that cause the discomfort of IBS and other “overactive gut” disorders. That same relaxing effect- working on arteries- may be one reason why the spice can help lower blood pressure, researchers suggest.
Coriander “May” help prevent and treat:
bloating, cholesterol problems, colic, colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, diarrhea, eczema, flatulence, high blood pressure, IBS, indigestion insomnia, lead poisoning, liver disease, psoriasis, rosacea, stomach-ache, ulcer, vaginal yeast infection.
It is best to buy whole seeds, as the oils dissipate after a few months once ground.
- Mix coriander seeds with peppercorns in your pepper mill.
- Coarsely grind coriander and rub it into meats or fish before cooking.
- Add whole or ground seeds to stews, casseroles, marinades, vinaigrettes and pickled dishes.
- Make a classic Moroccan rub: Mix ground coriander with garlic butter and paprika and rub it on lamb before roasting.
- Fennel: Health Benefits: Calms Menstrual Cramps
Fennel is one of the few plants that has it all- it is a vegetable, herb and spice!
“Fennel seeds are teeming with anethole and dozens of other phytochemicals, including phytoestrogens, estrogen like compounds found in plants. These can help onset menstrual cramps that affect more than 50% of menstruating women.”
“Fennel has also been shown to calm colic in babies . During a controlled study, 65% of the babies given a product containing fennel seed oil eliminated colic versus the placebo group.”
Fennel “May” also help prevent and treat: Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cancer, colitis, (inflammatory bowel disease) dementia, glaucoma, heart disease, high blood pressure, hirsutism (unwanted hair growth in women), stroke
How to buy fennel seeds:
Ground fennel starts to lose its flavor after six months, while whole fennel seeds keep for three years, so it is best to buy whole and grind as as needed.
- Dry and crush toasted fennel seeds and steep them in tea.
- Fennel seed naturally complements many foods from the Mediterranean diet, including tomatoes, olives,olive oil,basil, grilled meat and seafood.
- Throw in extra fennel seeds the next time you make a sausage ragu.
- Add fennel seeds to fruit salads and compotes.
- Add ground fennel to scrambled eggs.
- Make spiced olives in 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil and 1 teaspoon each fennel seeds, dried oregano and dried thyme.
- Ginger: Health Benefit: Quiets Queasiness
“For thousands of years, traditional healers worldwide have turned to ginger to help ease nausea of all kinds. For the past few decades, scientists have been proving that ginger works.”
Ginger “MAY also help prevent and treat:
arthritis, asthma, cancer, cholesterol problems,heart attack, heartburn, indigestion, migraine, morning sickness, motion sickness, nausea, stroke, elevated triglycerides.
How to buy ginger:
Opt for fresh ginger over the dried ground stuff which has a less enticing aroma and far less zip. When buying fresh ginger, look for knobs (called “hands”) that are firm with smooth skin.
Store fresh peeled ginger in a paper bag in the refrigerator, where it will keep for two week. You can also keep unpeeled ginger indefinitely by freezing it in a freezer bag.
D.K. I add ginger to my daily green drinks. I heard a doctor on T.V. say you can use the unpeeled ginger which I do in my drinks. You might check that out first. It has worked for me!
- Grate fresh ginger over cooked tofu, vegetables or soba noodles.
- Toss sliced or chopped ginger into stir-fries.
- Rub into meat before grilling to help tenderize and add flavor.
- Steep a coin-size piece of fresh ginger with your choice of tea.
- Sprinkle ground ginger and a little brown sugar on acorn squash or sweet potatoes before baking.
- Cinnamon: Health Benefit: Balances Blood Sugar
“Study after study has shown that cinnamon can play a role in the every day management of blood sugar (glucose) and other cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors.
Diabetes, a disease of chronically high blood sugar, attacks arteries and veins, increasing the risk of heart disease sixfold. The good news is that preventing type 2 diabetes and reversing pre-diabetes is possible with lifestyle changes alone-they are actually more effective than preventive medications.”
A study was done in the U.S. and published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine .The results were encouraging! One group was receiving 1 gram of cinnamon a day and the other group receiving a placebo.
“After three months, those taking the cinnamon had a .83 percent decrease in their A1C, a measure of blood sugar.
(Seven percent or less means the diabetes is controlled and a decrease between 0.5 and 1.0 percent is considered a significant improvement.)Those taking the placebo had only a 0.87 percent decrease in A1C blood-sugar levels.”
“Cinnamon helps control blood sugar levels in the short term as well. Richard Anderson, PhD, a scientist at the Beltville Human Nutrition Research Center of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who has conducted several studies on cinnamon and diabetes, theorizes that the spice mimics the action of insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar. It may stimulate insulin receptors on fat and muscle cells, the same way insulin does, he says, allowing excess sugar to move out of the blood and into the cells.
Cinnamon“May” also help prevent and treat:
cancer, cholesterol problems, food poisoning, heart disease, hypertension, insulin resistance, polycystic ovarian syndrome, stroke, ulcer, vaginal yeast infection, wounds.
How to Buy Cinnamon:
Ground cinnamon begins to fade in flavor after a few months, so it’s best to buy whole cinnamon quills (or sticks) and grind as needed.
If your only option is to buy ground cinnamon, try to find good stuff made from whole quills, as opposed to “featherings”(which are the inner bark of twigs and small shoots that are not large enough to form a full quill) or from “cinnamon chips” (made from shavings and trimmings).
When in doubt, buy Ceylon cinnamon from Sri Lanka which is widely considered the best in the world.
- Simmer a whole cinnamon quill in soups or stews.
- Sprinkle cinnamon on apples, bananas, melons and oranges
- Combine equal parts cinnamon, cardamon, and black pepper and use as a rub for meats.
- Mix cinnamon into rice pilaf.
- Make spice tea: Put a quart of brewed tea into a pot, add 2 cups of apple juice, and gently simmer with a sliced lemon and two cinnamon sticks for ten minutes.
D.K. I appreciate the recommendations of alternative minded medical professionals. Certainly, we need conventional medical advisors and believe the traditional and holistic pathway to health needs to be intertwined at times. This is my personal feeling. However, as I want to stress throughout this website please check with your medical advisor because we are uniquely designed.
Another tip I took home from Sanoviv Medical Institute was about cayenne pepper.
Here is what I learned:
Add a pinch of cayenne to drinks or cooking for added benefits;
- improves cell structure of arteries and regulates blood flow to equalized pressure;
- great for heartburn (surprise, huh?)
- cayenne increases metabolism, stimulates circulatory systems;
According to Dr. John Christopher, the famed natural herbalist, “a teaspoon of cayenne should bring the patient out of a heart attack.”
D.K. Hopefully, this information on spices and fresh herbs will encourage you to do research on their possible benefits. Since this section has been on holistic possibilities for improving our health so do happy emotions have a positive benefit on our lives. I couldn’t resist adding that thought when I saw the following quotes.
“Love cures people-both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it.”..Karl A. Menninger
“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”….Jimmy Dean