Ancient cultures have been using herbs and spices to prevent and teat illnesses for thousands of years. Adding herbs and spices to your food may do more than make a meal tasty, it may keep you healthy. Potent plant compounds in herbs like cinnamon and rosemary have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial actions, which normalize blood glucose levels and protect the heart to improve mood and boost brain function, even repel cancer cells.

  • Chilli Powder: Though it seems odd that capsaicin, the substance that gives green chillies and chilli powder their fiery heat, would act as pain reliever, it has indeed been used for years as topical cream to help people with arthritis, shingles and psoriasis.  Experts suspect capsaicin works by first stimulating pain receptors via the skin and then shutting them down. By combining the local anesthesia lidocaine with capsaicin, Harvard scientists were able to block pain receptors, yet leave touch and motor sensors intact, causing controlled numbness.  though tested only rats so far, researchers are confident the finding could eventually transform the way surgery is performed. Capsaicin has also been shown to kill prostate cancer cells.
  • Cinnamon: In addition to anti-oxidant and anti-microbial activity, cinnamon is now hailed for its power to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood glucose levels.  It is also been shown to lower cholesterol and triglyceride blood levels, even small amounts of cinnamon may be effective.  One-half teaspoon of cinnamon powder twice daily before meals lowered glucose and cholesterol levels, also teaspoon a day lowered fasting glucose in people with diabetes.
  • Turmeric: Turmeric (Curcumin) has the ability to stop tumour growth and promote tumour cell breakdown, particularly in colorectal cancer cells. Turmeric lends spices their distinctive flavour and vivid yellow colour. Turmeric reduced inflammation and lessened the chances that obese mice would develop type 2 diabetics.  Turmeric lessened insulin resistance, improved blood sugar levels, decreased body fat and increased muscle mass.  Turmeric may help prevent rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and Crohn’s disease.  Its extract blocks bone breakdown, reducing the risk for osteoporosis.
  • Garlic: Garlic bulb’s phyto-nutrients  – sulfur containing compounds including allicin and allin – that are thought to impart significant health benefits – relating to heart disease, cancer and immunity.  Numerous studies suggest that eating garlic regularly improves blood pressure, triglyceride and cholesterol levels, lessens the stickiness of platelets and may inhibit plaque and calcification of arteries.  Garlic has also been found to contain compounds that inhibit enzymes that cause inflammation and may be helpful in reducing the pain of arthritis.
  • Ginger: Ginger (a root) has been used as medicinal help for centuries.  It has a reputation for preventing and soothing the nausea associated with motion sickness, pregnancy and chemotherapy.  Its most active and pungent compounds, called gingerols, are touted as potential cancer and inflammation fighters.
  • Oregano: The spice that makes you drool at the mere sight and smell of a pizza is noted for it supreme antioxidant abilities. Oregano has up to 20 times the antioxidant activity of other herbs, and gram-for-gram beats apples and oranges.  Now this herb has been found to be a potent anti-inflammatory agent too.
  • Saffron: This spice is what turns Basmati rice yellow in biryani.  Both the petal and sought-after stamen of saffron have shown potent anti-depressant effects in several studies. A few studies found that 30 milligrams of saffron was just as effective as commonly prescribed fluoxetine (fludac) and imipramine for treating mild-to-moderate depression and saffron has anti-carcinogenic properties.
  • Sage and Thyme: Both sage oil and thyme oil are thought to help maintain and protect brain function. Early research suggests that thyme oil works as a brain antioxidant, protecting polyunsaturated fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids from oxidation as the brain ages.  Sage oil’s antioxidant powers may improve cognitive function in mild-to-moderate cases of dementia.  Sage oil has been chain to improve mood and performance on simple tasks.

It’s becoming clear that there are benefits to be had from enjoying a healthful and flavourful dose of herbs and spices in your food.

Categories: Herbs and Spices

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