7 health-boosting herbs and spices

7 health-boosting herbs and spices

health boosting herbs and spice

Herbs and spices are more than just taste enhancers.

Many of them have been used for healing and general health for centuries, so why not let your pantry double as a medicine cabinet? We’ve put together a guide to some of the most effective herbs and spices, and how to use them to help treat common ailments.

1.Rosemary

The magic of rosemary can be found in the chemical compound rosmarinic acid, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s most commonly used to treat:

Allergies

Allergic reactions start with the production of histamine, causing itching, sneezing and swelling. Rosemary’s anti-inflammatory function can help to open airways constricted by histamine.

How to use: Dilute rosemary oil in warm water and breathe the aromatic steam, or drink the leaves in tea form.

Indigestion 

Rosemary is commonly used throughout Europe as a treatment for indigestion.

How to use: Drink in tea form.

Memory and brain function 

Rosemary has been shown to improve memory and help perform mental tasks with more speed and accuracy.

How to use: With food, as an infused tea or mineral water, or as an essential oil.

READ MORE: MAKE YOUR OWN ESSENTIAL OIL AROMATHERAPY BLENDS

2.Peppermint

Peppermint contains the organic compound menthol, which soothes and cools to help alleviate discomfort. The plant has antiviral, antifungal and antioxidant properties, which help make it one of the most effective herbal treatments. Peppermint helps with:

Skin conditions 

It’s often used to calm irritation, redness and itchiness of the skin, can be used to treat acne, and to help reduce dandruff.

How to use: Always dilute the essential oil before application, and use sparingly.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Sufferers of IBS have reported feeling on average 50% better as a result of using peppermint.

How to use: Buy in capsule form, as research has found enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules – which prevent
the capsules from dissolving before they reach the intestines – provide the greatest relief.

Headaches 

Peppermint has proven to be as effective as paracetamol for tension headaches in some people.

How to use: Apply diluted peppermint oil to the forehead.

3.Sage

This helpful herb contains flavonoids, which are packed with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Sage also
contains the active ingredient rosmarinic acid. It can be used to treat:

Digestive issue 

Sage is considered to alleviate just about any tummy troubles, including general pain, bloating, excess gas and diarrhoea.

How to use: Consume as a dietary supplement or use as a compress.

Excessive perspiration 

Sage can be found in many treatments for the sweat gland disorder hyperhidrosis, to help alleviate night sweats and hot flashes.

How to use: Buy in dried leaf capsules.

Inflammation from cold and flu 

During a cold, flu or sinus infection, your mucous membranes become swollen and can be painful. Sage helps to reduce mucus and expel phlegm, providing some relief from symptomatic discomfort.

How to use: Drink in tea form.

4.Fenugreek 

This powerful herb includes antioxidants, magnesium, iron, copper, fibre, protein and vitamin B6. It can be used to treat:

Heartburn 

Seeds contain mucilage, which coats the inner lining of the stomach and intestines, alleviating the inflammation that causes heartburn and reflux.

How to use: Dilute fenugreek seed powder in water or tea.

Blood sugar 

Research shows promising results for helping treat type 2 diabetes. The herb contains galactomannan, which can
slow the rate of sugar absorption in the bloodstream, as well as a specific amino acid that regulates the release of insulin.

How to use: Soak fenugreek seeds in hot water before consuming.

Inflammation 

Anti-inflammatory properties may be helpful in a variety of issues, including mouth ulcers and inflammation caused
by bronchitis and chronic coughs.

How to use: Take as a supplement or in tea form.

5.Star anise 

Star anise is a spice rich in antioxidants, as well as free-radical fighting vitamins A and C. It can be used to treat:

Fungal infections

Star anise is effective against the fungus candida albicans, which is responsible for yeast infections like thrush.

How to use: Drink in tea form and add to meals.

Flu 

This powerful spice contains nature’s highest concentration of the compound shikimic acid, which is the active
ingredient in certain flu medications and could even help boost your immune system. Including star anise in your diet
is thought to significantly reduce your risk of catching the flu.

How to use: Drink in tea form.

Digestive issues 

Star anise can help reduce nausea, indigestion, cramps and constipation, due largely to its high fibre content.

How to use: Drink in tea form after a meal.

6.Ginger

Ginger is regarded as one of the world’s healthiest spices, as it’s packed with super compounds and nutrients.
It can be used to treat a variety of issues, including:

Nausea 

Ginger contains the compounds gingerol and shogaol, which can help relax the intestinal track and alleviate general nausea and nausea caused by motion sickness, chemotherapy and morning sickness.

How to use: Drink in tea form.

Menstrual cramps 

Research conducted on ginger as a treatment for menstrual cramps shows the spice could be as effective as
ibuprofen for pain relief.

How to use: Drink in tea form.

Muscle pain 

Studies have found that taking ginger regularly can significantly decrease muscle pain caused by exercise, which
may be due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Although it won’t act as a painkiller and take immediate effect, ginger has proven successful in reducing the progression of muscle pain, so it’s definitely worth taking a daily dose if you’re a regular at the gym.

How to use: Drink in tea form.

7.Cinnamon

The aroma of cinnamon is due to the oil it contains, which is rich in cinnamaldehyde. Scientists believe
this compound is responsible for a variety of health benefits, and that it discourages the growth of mould, yeast and
bacteria. It’s used to treat:

Fungal and bacterial infections 

The spice has been used to effectively treat respiratory tract infections caused by fungus. It can also ward off infection
caused by certain harmful bacteria, including salmonella and listeria.

How to use: Add to food and smoothies or drink in tea form.

Heart health 

It’s been shown to reduce common heart disease risk factors, including high blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as increasing blood circulation and helping repair damaged tissue.

How to use: In food, smoothies, and tea.

Free radicals 

Free radicals are unstable molecules that result in the destruction of healthy cells and tissues. Cinnamon is packed with free radical fighting antioxidants that break the chain reaction before damage is caused.

How to use: Add to food and smoothies or drink in tea form.

READ MORE: TURMERIC – THE NEW SUPER SPICE

COMPILED BY CAITLIN GENG PHOTOS: FOTOLIA.COM

The advice contained here is strictly for informational purposes. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, and treatment. Always consult your GP or a doctor for specific information regarding your health.

 

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