Herbs & Spices – Nature’s Medicine

Baskets of spices

Inflammation is the body’s natural defense mechanism for injury, infection, allergies, autoimmune reactions, and stress.  Chronic inflammation has been linked to heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and a variety of other disorders and conditions.  Reducing stress, a healthy diet, and proper sleep can help reduce inflammation.  In addition, certain foods and spices have been identified as natural anti-inflammatory agents.

According to a study facilitated by the department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Florida (2012), top herbs and spices that proved protection to cells against damage were turmeric, paprika, rosemary, ginger, sage, and cumin.

Turmeric/Curcumin

Turmeric is a brilliant yellow spice, which you can find in any grocery store. It has been used as a medicine for centuries to treat wounds, infections, colds, and liver disease.  This spice can be used to make tea, or in recipes.  Turmeric tea, brewed using grated turmeric root or pure powder, is considered one of the most effective ways to consume the spice. You can also buy curcumin (the powerful compound in turmeric) in capsules, and find it as an alternative natural remedy or tincture.

Paprika

Paprika is a bright red spice made by either air-drying and grinding peppers or by drying, smoking and grinding peppers into an incredibly fine and savory powder. Mixed with foods, in order to avoid gastrointestinal side effects, it helps with indigestion, cardiovascular health, and circulation.  Paprika is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, and contains vitamins A, E, K, and C.

Rosemary

Rosemary is an evergreen herb native to the Mediterranean. It is a source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, which are thought to help boost the immune system and improve circulation.  In Europe, Rosemary is used medicinally to treat indigestion.  The spice contains an ingredient called carnosic acid, which may fight off damage by free radicals in the brain.  In addition, research done by Northumbria University and published in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology found that Rosemary’s aroma can improve a person’s concentration, performance, speed, and accuracy.

Ginger

Ginger has been used as a traditional medicine to treat stomach upset, headaches, and infections. According to study conducted by the University of Miami, research revealed that ginger affects certain inflammatory processes at a cellular level and could someday be a substitute for NSAID’s.  Ginger is available at grocery and health food stores in a variety of forms such as capsules, tinctures, teas, powders, oils and foods made from the dried or fresh root of the ginger plant.  It is recommended you take ginger with food as concentrated doses of ginger can upset the stomach.

Sage

Sage belongs to the same family as oregano, lavender, rosemary, thyme, and basil.  It carries both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  Due to its high antioxidant properties, Sage can help protect body cells from damage caused by free radicals. In addition, Sage has been used to help relieve congestion and support respiratory function. In addition, a small study done in 2013 by the Department of Pharmacology and Applied Medicine, participants showed lower average glucose levels over a 3-month period, and lower total cholesterol, triglyceride, as well as levels of harmful cholesterol.

Cumin

Cumin is from the parsley family.  According to a review published in 2015 in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, the main ingredient exhibited antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Further study, which appeared in the Global Journal of Health Science (2016) found all three, cumin, peppermint and milk of magnesia, equally effective in helping gastrointestinal distress.

Natural Benefits

Spices contain antioxidants and chemical compounds that disrupt the body’s inflammation-signaling pathways and they do so without the common negative side effects of prescription medications and even over-the-counter NSAIDs.  Spices offer additional benefits including a stronger immune system, improved digestion and a lower risk of chronic diseases You most likely have many of these alternative herbal remedies in your spice cabinet that can be added to regular meals.  Using herbal tinctures and teas are other ways to add these valuable spices to your daily regime.