Some of the most powerful healers can be found in the kitchen – herbs and spices. These wonderfully fragrant and flavor-enhancing additions to food also contain a wealth of natural healing properties that have a number of diverse benefits, from aiding digestion to reducing the risk of cancer.
All herbs and spices contain substances that promote healing, and here are just ten of the most powerful ones, and some reasons why you should be using them in cooking and as health-enhancers:
- 1. Cinnamon – cinnamon bark contains an oil-like substance that kills a variety of illness causing bacteria, including E.coli and Salmonella, and research shows that cinnamon is able to stop the growth of the Asian fluvirus. Cinnamon has a surprisingly strong effect on the brain and mood; its distinctive smell helps to reduce anxiety and stress, increase alertness, and prevent mood swings caused by fluctuating blood-sugar levels.
- 2. Turmeric - turmeric contains curcumin, a powerful antioxidant chemical that detoxifies carcinogens and calms inflammation, making it useful for easing auto-immune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and allergies. It appears to work just like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, without the side effects. Turmeric is such as strong anti-inflammatory that only a small amount is enough to reduce the risk of illness.Curcumin, which gives this spice its vivid golden color, also helps to prevent the build up of fatty deposits in the arteries, and so may protect against conditions such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease.
- 3. Basil – basil contains volatile oils, which account for the medicinal properties of this herb. It relieves flatulence, is an aid to digestion and its antiseptic properties are said to benefit acne. This fragrant oil also hasantimicrobial effects. Recent tests have found that basil oils can counteract the growth of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, including those that cause food poisoning and others that infect wounds.
- 4. Clove – clove oil is 60 to 90 percent eugenol, a potent pain-relieving compound, effective for numbing the pain toothache, headaches, and other areas of pain, such as the joints. As well as their anaesthetic effects, clovescombat the bacterial infection and inflammation that can lead to gum diseaseand the risk of further damage to teeth.
- 5. Cumin – cumin seeds are valued for their digestive benefits. Cuminrelieves wind and can prevent digestive upsets such as diarrhea. This is thought to be because these small seeds stimulate the production of pancreatic enzymes that help the body break down foods and absorb the nutrients. This fragrant spice is a source of iron and is rich in essential oils. Regularly eating cumin is associated with blood glucose-lowering effects.Chewing a few seeds of cumin sweetens the breath after eating a meal. End a meal by chewing a blend of cumin seeds, fennel, cloves and cardamom to enhance digestion.
- 6. Fennel – Rich in volatile oils, fennel is a carminative herb, meaning that it can ease bloating, flatulence, and digestive spasms. As well as digestion, scientific research has demonstrated fennel’s anti-cancer, intestinal healthand eye health benefits. Fennel seeds can also reduce bad breath and body odor. The fennel bulb contains a significant amount of Vitamin C, and is a source of fiber, folate and potassium, making it a powerful antioxidant herb.
- 7. Mint - mint is widely used as a highly effective digestive aid, and to counteract nausea and vomiting. Mint improves fat digestion and is an effective antacid, due to its essential oils. Peppermint oil is still the basis for many indigestion remedies, because it is extremely soothing to the stomach lining. Mint tea is not only beneficial for digestion; it is a simple treatment for stress-induced headaches. Chewing the leaves or drinking the tea stimulates the cortex of the brain to improve concentration and induce relaxation.
- 8. Oregano - One tablespoon of oregano has about the same antioxidantcapacity as one banana or a cup of string beans. Its antioxidant qualities combat the conditions of aging, especially heart disease and cancers.Oregano contains at least four compounds that soothe coughs and 19 chemicals with antibacterial action, which are associated with offering protection against food-borne diseases. Freshly-picked oregano leaves are the most effective.
- 9. Parsley - parsley is rich in essential oils, and contains Vitamin A, C, and some iron and calcium. It is a diuretic and digestive herb, helping to prevent problems such as kidney stones and bladder infections, and keeping the body’s plumbing running smoothly by causing it to produce more urine. It also aids in the elimination of uric acid – useful for arthritis, rheumatism orgout, and it is an effective breath freshener because it contains high levels of chlorophyll.
- 10.Fenugreek - fenugreek is rich in vitamins A and C, and iron andphosphorus. Studies have shown that fenugreek is a potent stimulator of breast milk production in nursing mothers. Fenugreek seeds have also been found to protect against cancers of the colon and breast, and have anti-diabetic effects. The regular intake of fenugreek seeds helps to purify theblood, flush out harmful toxins and lowers the risk of a heart attack.