Humans have been using spices on their foods as far back as 50,000 B.C, and of course, it gives flavour to our meals. But beyond this, these dried seeds, fruits, root or bark can also add years to your life.
Spices are rich in phytonutrients and other active ingredients that protect against disease and promote healing.
Worldwide studies have linked spices to the prevention and treatment of chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, Type II diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.
Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, spices can be used long- term without concern for side effects. In short, spices are among the great gifts nature has bestowed upon us. They included:
Aids digestion;When used in small doses, nutmeg can reduce flatulence, aid digestion, improve the appetite and treat diarrhea, vomiting and nausea.
Pain relief; nutmeg oil is an excellent sedative and anti-inflammatory. Massaging with the oil helps ease muscular and joint pain and sores.
It’s very effective for reducing the painful swelling of joints in arthritis, rheumatism, lumbago, etc.
High cholesterol: Animal studies have found that nutmeg reduces total and LDL (”bad”) cholesterol.
Anxiety: Nutmeg is a relaxant, used in folk medicine to relieve anxiety and depression.
Animal studies in India found that nutmeg had an effectiveness similar to common anti- anxiety drugs in alleviating symptoms.
The spice also “significantly improved” learning and memory.
As mentioned, large amounts of nutmeg can be toxic. It is considered safe, however, when used for culinary purposes, even in generous amounts.
Turmeric has been used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine for a thousand years; its active ingredient, curcumin, is a strong antioxidant that’s been shown in test tube and animal studies to fend off cancer growth, amyloid plaque development, and more.
Turmeric might also boost heart health — a 2012 study showed that adding turmeric and other high-antioxidant spices to high-fat meals could help regulate triglyceride and insulin levels and protect the cardiovascular system.
Turmeric may also help regulate the immune system — a series of studies in 2010 and 2011 showed that curcumin might have positive effects on people with autoimmune disorders, such as multiple sclerosis.
Like all herbs and spices, however, too much turmeric might not be a good thing — it can inhibit blood clotting in large doses and may exacerbate gallbladder issues; so check with your doctor before using more than a typical culinary amount.
The humble onion is found in every kitchen, but its curative powers make it an important medicinal plant too.
Onions were historically as a preventative medicine during epidemics of cholera and the plague.
They were apparently eaten by Roman emperor Nero as a cure for colds, and its reputation has made onions a popular component in the diets of many countries.
Onion is so much more active in its raw state than when cooked, as it contains a variety of organic sulphur compounds, contained in a volatile oil, that provide the health benefits. These are partly destroyed by heat.
Onions as well as otherAllium vegetables have been studied extensively in relation to cancer, especially stomach and colorectal cancers.
Their beneficial and preventative effects are likely due in part to their rich organosulfur compounds.
Although the exact mechanism by which these compounds inhibit cancer is unknown, possible hypothesis include the inhibition of tumor growth and mutagenesis and prevention of free radical formation.1
Onions are also a source of the strong antioxidant vitamin C that helps to combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer.
Also, Folate, found in onions, may help with depression by preventing an excess of homocysteine from forming in the body, which can prevent blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain.
When eaten raw, its juice can act as an irritant and some people find it difficult to digest.
Those who are not tempted by the idea of eating raw onions can follow simple cooking methods that may make them more palatable.
For people with sensitive stomachs, this is a far suitable way to enjoy the healthy benefits of onions.
Thyme has a long history of use in natural medicine in connection with chest and respiratory problems including coughs, bronchitis, and chest congestion.
Recently, researchers pinpointed some of the components in thyme that bring about its healing effects.
The volatile oil components of thyme are now known to include carvacolo, borneol, geraniol, but most importantly, thymol.
In studies on aging in rats, thymol (found in thyme) has been found to protect and significantly increase the percentage of healthy fats found in cell membranes and other cell structures.
In particular, the amount of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid) in brain, kidney, and heart cell membranes was increased after dietary supplementation with thyme.
In other studies looking more closely at changes in the brains cells themselves, researchers found that the maximum benefits of thyme occurred when the food was introduced very early in the lifecycle of the rats, but was less effective in offsetting the problems in brain cell aging when introduced late in the aging process.
Thyme also contains a variety of flavonoids, including apigenin, naringenin, luteolin, and thymonin. These flavonoids increase thyme’s antioxidant capacity, and combined with its status as a good source of manganese, give thyme a high standing on the list of anti-oxidant foods.
Traditionally used to relieve colds and stomach troubles, ginger is rich in inflammation-fighting compounds, such as gingerols, which some experts believe may hold promise in fighting some cancers and reducing arthritis pain.
In a recent study, people who took ginger capsules daily for 11 days reported 25 percent less muscle pain when they performed exercises designed to strain their muscles (compared with a similar group taking placebo capsules).
Another study found that ginger extract injections helped relieve osteoarthritis pain of the knee. And ginger’s reputation as a stomach soother seems deserved:
studies show ginger extracts can help reduce nausea caused by morning sickness or following surgery or chemotherapy, though it’s less effective for motion sickness.
Garlic is used for many conditions related to the heart and blood system. These conditions include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, heart attack, and “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis).
Some of these uses are supported by science. Garlic actually may be effective in slowing the development of atherosclerosis and seems to be able to modestly reduce blood pressure.
Some people use garlic to prevent colon cancer, rectal cancer, stomach cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and lung cancer. It is also used to treat prostate cancer and bladder cancer.
Garlic has been tried for treating an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia; BPH), diabetes, osteoarthritis, hayfever (allergic rhinitis), traveler’s diarrhea, high blood pressure late in pregnancy (pre-eclampsia), cold and flu.
It is also used for building the immune system, preventing tick bites, and preventing and treating bacterial and fungal infections.
Other uses include treatment of fever, coughs, headache, stomach ache, sinus congestion, gout, rheumatism, hemorrhoids, asthma, bronchitis, shortness of breath, low blood pressure, low blood sugar, high blood sugar, and snakebites.
It is also used for fighting stress and fatigue, and maintaining healthy liver function.
They contain various antioxidant properties and have the ability to control diarrhea, gastrointestinal problems such as indigestion, excessive acid secretion, peptic ulcers, dysentery, diabetes and an unhealthy cholesterol balance.
They are also believed to have cancer fighting properties and are known to help protect the liver.
Curry leaves help lower the blood sugar levels. They help your blood sugar levels by affecting the insulin activity of the body and reduces one’s blood sugar levels.
Also the type and amount of fiber contained within the leaves play a significant role in lowering blood sugar levels.
So, if you suffer from diabetes, curry leaves is a good natural method to keeping your blood sugar levels in check.
Curry leaves is known to help improve digestion and alter the way your body absorbs fat, thereby helping you lose weight.
Since weight gain is one of the leading causes of diabetes, curry treats the problem right at the root.
Many researches show that curry leaves have properties that can help in lowering one’s blood cholesterol levels.
Packed with antioxidants, curry leaves prevent the oxidation of cholesterol that forms LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).
This in turn helps in increasing the amount of good cholesterol (HDL) and protects your body from conditions like heart disease and atherosclerosis.
Prevents greying of hair
Curry leaves has always been known to help in preventing greying of the hair. It is also very effective in treating damaged hair.
The best part about this benefit is that you can either choose to eat the curry leaves to help with your hair woes or apply it to your scalp as a remedy.