For thousands of years, spices have been used to preserve food and enhance its flavor. These same spices were also said to have medicinal properties but science scoffed at such nonsense calling these claims “old wives tales”. Today researchers are proving the old wives were right. Study after study is showing spices can help you fight off some very serious diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and many more. What are these miracle spices and where can you find them? You probably have most of them in your kitchen right now, so let’s get cooking!
Cayenne: This pepper spice is used extensively in Asian and Central American cuisine and brings a certain amount of zip to any dish. Herbalists traditionally use it as a circulatory stimulant and a topical treatment for muscle pain (it is mixed into a liniment or ointment) . Studies have shown that a diet rich in cayenne chili protected against the formation of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. It also shows promise in keeping insulin levels low after meals.
Cinnamon: Cinnamomum cassia is the dried bark of evergreen trees cultivated throughout Asia. This incredibly versatile spice is used in everything from cookies, ciders and soups to exotic main courses . Used in herbal medicine for digestive disorders new research shows that cinnamon significantly lowered fasting blood glucose, triglycerides and cholesterol levels in diabetics. In another study cinnamon proved to be a powerful antibacterial. A teaspoon of cinnamon was placed in a glass of apple juice that had been infected with the E coli bacteria. After three days 99.5 percent of the bacteria had died.
Garlic: The “stinking rose” has been apart of the natural medicine chest since the dawn of time. The Egyptians, Greeks and Chinese all used garlic extensively in there medicine. Science is now proving they had good reason too. Studies show garlic can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Raw garlic is a potent antibiotic and can reduce the clotting tendencies of the blood. According to several European studies consuming garlic on a regular basis also seems to offer protection against several forms of cancer including breast and ovarian. When cooking use fresh garlic whenever possible and expose it to as little heat as possible. The medicinal properties of garlic are very fragile and break down easily the more they are processed or heated.
Ginger: Ginger is a common ingredient in Chinese medicine and is used to calm the stomach. This spicy root has the antioxidant power equal to vitamin C. Research has shown that ginger is as effective at combating motion sickness as the drug Dramamine without the side effects. Ginger is also a powerful anti inflammatory.
Onion: Okay onions are more of a vegetable than spice, but including more onions in your diet may help you keep some forms of cancer at bay. An Italian study found that adults who consumed a half cup of onions a day were 65% les likely to develop breast and ovarian cancer than those who did not eat this veggie.
Turmeric is a culinary herb that today is chiefly cultivated in Southeast Asia. The turmeric root is harvested and ground up into a powder. It is available in most grocery stores in the spice section. Used mostly in curries, it is what gives curry powder it’s bright yellow color and it is also added to hot dog mustard to give it it’s distinctive color. This herb has been used in India for more than 2500 years and probably began as a base for clothing dye. The medicinal properties of turmeric have been known for centuries and this herb is used in both Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine. Turmeric is truly a natural wonder and if there was only one supplement I could take, turmeric would be it. It has been shown to provide benefits in the treatment of everything from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease. Personally I take it for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties since it has been proven to work as well as many of the anti-inflammation drugs without their side effects. It’s also an antibacterial agent and an antiseptic. New research points to turmeric’s ability to remove Amyloyd plaque build up in the brain which may prevent and slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. This powerful herb is a natural liver detoxifier and reduces the risk of scarring of the liver, which can lead to cirrhosis. It seems to aid in fat metabolism and could help in weight management. Recent studies have shown turmeric can stop the growth of new blood vessels in tumors which could contribute to slowing or stopping tumor growth. Many people use it as a natural treatment for psoriasis and arthritis as well as other inflammatory diseases. The active ingredient in turmeric is believed to be curcumin and both turmeric and curcumin are available in pill form in health food and nutritional supplement stores. You should not use turmeric if you have gallstones or bile obstruction. You should always consult your health care provider before using any herbal supplement.