Health Benefits and Healing Power of Herbs and Spices

bigstock-Naturopathic-healing-herb-sele-42316789At one time, spices were more valuable than gold and were even used as currency between some countries.  Wars were fought to obtain control of the valuable spice territories.  Today, exotic spices and herbs are readily available but many of us are not fully aware of their value.  For example, did you know that just 1 teaspoon of paprika or chili powder provides as much as 16 percent of the daily requirement of Vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene? In this blog post, we’ll talk about the health benefits and healing power of some common herbs and spices.

Herbs are derived from green plants in temperate climates and are used for culinary, medicinal, cosmetic and fragrance purposes.  Many herbs cannot be consumed during pregnancy.  Spices usually have a stronger scent and a piquant taste; they come from flowers, seeds, roots or bark of trees or shrubs grown in tropical and subtropical climates.  Herbs and spices can be used fresh out of the ground, dried, made into a tea, essential oil or put into capsules.

Here are some examples of the many incredible uses and nutritional value of herbs and spices:

Basil – provides a sweet and pungent, minty and mild pepper flavour to food; it goes well with chicken, fish and pasta sauce. It also relieves a variety of digestive disorders e.g., stomach cramps, vomiting and constipation.  It may be used as a disinfectant, immune stimulant, treatment for parasites and improves the health of the lungs, spleen and large intestines.  Research shows that eating basil may reduce the risk of lung cancer.  Basil contains Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B3, Vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, manganese, pantothenic acid, folate and fiber.  To make Basil tea, use 1 teaspoon of dried basil per 1/2 cup of boiling water, steep for 5 minutes, then strain and drink.

Caraway seeds - provide a sharp and slightly bitter flavour and have a sweet undertone; the seeds can be added to breads, soups, salads, stews, cheeses, sauerkraut and meat dishes.  These seeds relieve stomach upset and help digestion.  It stimulates the appetite and the production of breast milk.  It helps treat bronchitis, colic and coughs.  A powder made from the seeds, made into a poultice, can speed the healing of bruises. Caraway can help relax the uterus for relief of menstrual cramps.  To make caraway tea, use 2 or 3 teaspoons of crushed seeds per cup of boiling water, steep for 10 – 20 minutes, then strain and drink.  Caraway contains even more vitamins and minerals than Basil.

Cinnamon – has antiseptic properties; sprinkle the powder on minor cuts and scrapes after cleaning the area.   It is a big help to digestive challenges, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.  It is beneficial for the heart, lungs and kidneys.  Cinnamon has been shown in lab tests to stop the growth of liver cancer and melanoma cells.  Two universities showed that it may lower blood pressure and help protect against diabetes (it more than doubles insulin’s abilities to metabolize blood sugar).  It may help stop uterine bleeding and the formation of stomach ulcers.  Key nutrients in cinnamon include calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, manganese, vitamin A, vitamin B1, B2, B3 and B6, vitamin C, fiber and many phytochemicals.

I will now give you a quick run down on some interesting uses of a few other herbs and spices (they each have many other uses not mentioned):

Anise - is used to treat asthma because it soothes inflamed mucus membranes in nasal passages.

Bay Leaves – are excellent for relieving migraines and stress.

Cardamom – boosts energy and stimulates appetite.

Cayenne - can relieve arthritic pain when used topically, treat psoriasis and is an anticoagulant, possibly helping to prevent heart attacks or strokes caused by the formation of clots in blood vessels.

Chives - helps prevent anemia due to their high iron content and helps relieve indigestion and gas.  Getting them directly from the garden and cutting them just prior to using them, preserves the vitamins best.

Fennel – aids in bladder and kidney function.  It is also a gentle laxative.  It helps with food poisoning, indigestion and motion sickness.

Garlic – is a natural antibiotic, helps combat all degenerative diseases and whole books have been written on its many other uses.

Ginger – relieves pain in those with inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, can destroy harmful bacteria including Salmonella, which causes food poisoning.

Marjoram - inhibits the growth of herpes simplex.

Oregano – inhibits the growth of staph bacteria as effectively as antibiotics.  It doubles the potency of insulin so that less is required to process sugar.

When we are continually looking to increase the nutritional value of our food, please remember to use herbs and spices.  You can even grow your own herbs, all year long, on your windowsill!

What are your favourite healing herbs and spices?  Please share them with other readers! Don’t forget to leave a link back to your own blog too if you have one via the commentluv feature here on the site. And, if you love this blog, won’t you vote for us?  You’ll find the link in the sidebar to the right of this post. If you are reading this post via email, please click here to be taken to the website where you’ll find the vote box.

Until next time,

Meredith

 

 

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