Digestion, Pain, Inflammation, Joint disorders | February 11, 2018 | Author: Naturopath
A spice is a bark, root, fruit or seed that is primarily used for adding flavour to meals. They reduce the need for artificial flavours, salt, sugar and fat and can be used as a natural preservative. Many spices have medicinal properties by supporting the immune system, decreasing free radical damage and reducing inflammation. Research has found they are full of various phytonutrients that help to prevent illness and disease. Try adding spices to everyday meals for a health boost or take as a supplement for a stronger therapeutic action.
If you’re new to using spices, add a little bit at first. You can try adding a combination of spices to dishes to create different flavours (commonly known as a spice mix).
This humble yellow spice receives a lot of hype and for very good reason. It can reduce inflammation and offers a natural form of pain relief for a wide-variety of conditions including headaches, joint pain and inflammatory bowel disease. Turmeric is a potent antioxidant—which helps to protect our liver and heart.
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How to get more turmeric in your diet
Turmeric can be used dried or fresh and added to lattes, smoothies, curries, marinades and even used in fresh juices. Curcumin, found in supplement form is a concentrated way to get relief from joint pain and other types of inflammation.
Ginger is full of health promoting phytochemicals and adds a lovely zing to meals. As a warming spice ginger improves circulation, helps to support the body during fever and reduces inflammation. It assists the immune system, supports healthy digestion, alleviates nausea and reduces joint pain.
Adding ginger to meals
The rhizome of ginger can be used fresh or dried in a variety of different ways—add to fresh juices, herbal teas, stir-fries, marinades and curries.
A native spice to Sri Lanka and tropical southern India, cinnamon is a pleasant tasting herb that can be used in both sweet and savoury foods.
It is traditionally used for digestive complaints such as bloating, intestinal colic, nausea, anorexia and diarrhoea. It has antimicrobial properties which help to fight off infection—especially during colds and flu. Cinnamon has most recently gained popularity due to its ability to assist healthy blood sugar maintenance in people who have insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
How to use cinnamon
Add to breakfast cereals, porridge, pancakes, smoothies, spice meat-rubs or casseroles. For blood sugar maintenance a powdered cinnamon in a capsule will be more effective.
One tablespoon of these aromatic seeds fulfils 22% of your daily requirement for iron—a mineral that helps keep your energy level high and your immune system in tip top shape. According to preliminary research, black cumin may also boost your brainpower. In an animal study, consuming black cumin extract was shown to improve performance on memory tests.
How to use it
Add the whole seeds to roast veggies and cooked rice. Alternatively grind the seeds and add to other powdered spices to make your own spice mix for cooking various meats.
Most people associate chili with adding heat to a dish, but this colourful spice can give your health a boost too. Chili is used topically to help provide pain relief in neuralgia, arthritis, lumbago, chilblains and myalgia. When taken internally it can stimulate circulation, assist weight loss and promote healthy digestion. Chili is a rich source of vitamin C—providing more than oranges!
Chili can be purchased fresh or dried and if there is more heat add less. It works well in savoury dishes such as stir-fires and curries. Use a cream containing capsaicin for topical pain relief.
In addition to their sweet, aromatic flavour, cloves are known for their potent medicinal properties. Cloves are extremely effective in killing microbes which can be involved in gum disease, Candida overgrowth and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Cloves have anti-cancer properties, are good the liver and are effective in stabilising blood sugars.
Found in both whole and ground forms, this versatile spice can be used to season pot roasts, adds flavour to hot beverages and brings spicy warmth to cookies and cakes. Use the essential oil to remove mould from bathrooms and other household surfaces.
Saffron extract boosts mood, improves memory and promotes learning. It has been involved in 8 anti-depressant clinical trials and has found to be effective for relieving depression.
Women with PMS and depression also found saffron beneficial and in one study 75% of women who took saffron experienced a reduction in their symptoms by half. In Alzheimer’s, saffron demonstrated it was more effective to placebo and as effective as donepezil. Other actions in the body include anti-convulsant, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour and antioxidant.
How to reap the benefits
Saffron is traditionally used to prepare rice and steeped in tea. Supplement formulas to boost mood may be more beneficial in individuals with depression.
Curcuma longa (turmeric). Monograph. Altern Med Rev. 2001 Sep;6 Suppl:S62-6
Azzubaidi MS, et al. Protective effect of treatment with black cumin oil on spatial cognitive functions of rats that suffered global cerebrovascular hypoperfusion. Acta Neurobiol Exp (Wars). 2012;72(2):154-65