Medicinal Benefits of Herbs and Spices
Common ailments such as headache, fever, nausea and vomiting usually account for most number of consultations in a doctor’s clinic. However, most of us are keen to adopt natural, organic, and drug-free treatments which ensure a safe and holistic cure.
Most of us are unaware of the potent medicinal properties of many of the herbs and spices present within our reach - stocked in our kitchens. Herbs and spices are not only great culinary additives, but can also be safely used to treat a number of health conditions.
Here is a list of the some of the commonest conditions experienced across age groups and natural ways to treat them at home.
1. Headache: Stressful and hectic lifestyles can bring on headaches which are commonly treated by popping in painkillers like paracetamol. Headaches usually occur due to stress, eye strain, poor sleep, irregular meal times and so on. Hormonal irregularities and blood sugar can also cause frequent headaches.
- Peppermint oil - Peppermint oil is known for unblocking clogged blood vessels. Its main component - menthol helps enhance blood circulation. You can either inhale its refreshing aroma or mix one tablespoon of peppermint oil together with almond oil and apply it on the forehead. Alternatively, add one tablespoon of crushed peppermint leaves to boiling water and enjoy it as a cup of peppermint tea.
- Cinnamon - Simply mix a teaspoon of finely ground cinnamon powder with half a cup of warm water. Apply it on the forehead for 30 minutes and wash it off with lukewarm water.
2. Nausea: Nausea can be easily treated with simple herbal remedies; however, if you are pregnant, you must first consult with your physician.
- Ginger - Raw ginger or ginger ale, gingerols stimulate the release of a number of digestive enzymes and juices which neutralize gastric acid. Ginger tea can be easily prepared by peeling a few shreds of ginger root and boiling in 2 cups of water. Sip this slowly to get relief from nausea.
- Lemon - The strong odor of this citrus fruit can reduce the sensation of nausea and calm an irritated stomach. Hold a slice of lemon close to your nose ensuring that you inhale and exhale deeply. This will help get rid of the uneasy and nauseous sensation as well calm an irritated stomach.
- Clove - Brew one teaspoon of clove powder in a cup of water. Strain and sip this tea to get relief from nausea.
3. Indigestion or Dyspepsia: Over eating and faulty eating habits can lead to indigestion or acidity. Herbs can improve your digestion, and also resolve minor gut infections.
- Fennel - Regularly consumed after meals by many, fennel reduces indigestion and helps combat acidity, bloating and stomach pain. Typically, a teaspoon of fennel seeds can be taken each day.
- Turmeric - This yellow spice contains an active ingredient Curcumin, which lowers acidity, helps in digestion and aids liver function. The amount recommended everyday for dyspepsia is about 500 mg.
4. Joint Pain: A number of conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, tendinitis, sprain or strain give rise to joint pain in different joints like the knees, hips and shoulders. For mild cases of pain, herbal remedies can work well.
- Fenugreek Seeds - Anti inflammatory and antioxidant properties in fenugreek seeds make it a great remedy for joint pains. Swallow one teaspoon of finely ground Fenugreek seeds followed by warm water everyday in the morning. Alternatively, soak a teaspoon of Fenugreek seeds in a cup of water overnight and have it on an empty stomach each morning.
- Apple Cider Vinegar - The alkalizing properties in apple cider vinegar help neutralize acids and reduces pain in joints. Additionally, apple cider vinegar is rich in minerals such as calcium, phosphorous and magnesium that strengthen bones. Mix a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a cup of water and have two to three times a day before meals.
5. Allergies: Allergies can be annoying as they recur, especially due to change in weather or dust exposure. Spices from your kitchen rack can help tackle symptoms of allergies such as running nose, sneezing and watering of eyes.
- Rosemary - Rosemary has active components such as rosmarinic acid, caffeic acid, betulic acid, and carnosol. They are anti inflammatory and help relieve inflammation related to allergies. A few twigs of rosemary can be steeped in vinegar or wine and taken each day.
- Sage - The active components of sage called alpha-thujone and beta-thujone are responsible for its therapeutic effects in allergies.
6. Stress and Depression: Depression can be a result of a personal loss or injured self esteem. It is characterized by periods of sadness with intense feelings of hopelessness and loneliness. These natural anti depressants can elevate your mood and help to reduce or reverse depression.
- Saffron - Known as the Spice of Happiness, this aromatic herb can help reduce feelings of depression and elevate mood. This spice has shown promising effects equivalent to antidepressant medications. It can easily added to any dish, milk, dessert as garnishing.
- Cinnamon - Also known to be a great mood elevator, cinnamon helps strengthen attention, memory and concentration. It can be used as cinnamon sticks or fine ground powder in tea, or regular dishes.
7. Pain and Inflammation: A headache, arthritic pain, tooth pain or any kind of pain affecting any part of the body is a sign of inflammation. Here are natural alternatives which help alleviate pain and inflammation.
- Pineapple - Pineapplecontains an enzyme called bromelain which is a powerful painkiller and can reduce inflammation. Juice of a pineapple taken on an empty stomach can treat pain and inflammation.
- Capsaicin - This is found in hot chili peppers and works by reducing substance P which is responsible for transmitting pain from joints to the nerves. Capsaicin can be applied locally to reduce pain.
8. Diarrhea: Frequent loose stools or diarrhea can happen due to a bacterial or viral infection. Many herbs contain astringent properties which can contract the tissue leading to reduction in diarrhea and loss of water.
- Ginger - This is a great herb to alleviate stomach pain and diarrhea. Grate a piece of ginger and mix with a teaspoon of honey every hour during diarrhea.
- Chamomile tea - Brew chamomile tea with hot water and add a teaspoon of lemon juice to improve the taste. This can be taken frequently throughout the day to reduce diarrhea.
9. Sleep Disorders: Most sleep disorders originate from stress, or other psychological disorders.
- Lavender - is a tonic for the nervous system. A few drops of this aromatic oil can be added to the bath prior to sleeping to treat insomnia.
- Passion flower - is a well known herb for insomnia occurring due to mental exertion, overwork or stress. A cup of passion flower tea, three times a day is recommended for insomnia or 30 to 40 drops of tincture, applied everyday, three to four times.
10. Memory Problems: Memory loss is not only associated with old age, but can occur early on due to drugs or alcohol.
- Brahmi - The active ingredient bacosides is known to be neuroprotective and positively impacts the brain tissue by stimulating regeneration of cells. It helps improve memory and intelligence. Fresh juice of brahmi should be taken about 10 -20 ml/day. Powdered brahmi 2-3 gm can also be taken alternatively per day for adults.
- Ginkgo Biloba - The leaves of ginkgo contain flavonoids and terpenoids that help destroy free radicals which damage nerve cells. Extract of the leaves is available in capsule form.
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Latest Publications and Research on Top Ten Health Problems You can Solve with Herbs and Spices
- Antiviral Activity of Curcumin Loaded Milk Proteins Nanoparticles on Potato Virus Y. - Published by PubMed
- Major, minor and trace element concentrations in spices and aromatic herbs from Sicily (Italy) and Mahdia (Tunisia) by ICP-MS and multivariate analysis. - Published by PubMed
- Beta-caryophyllene enhances wound healing through multiple routes. - Published by PubMed
- Phytochemicals enriched in spices: a source of natural epigenetic therapy. - Published by PubMed
- Development and Application of InDel Markers for Authentication of the Korean Herbs Zanthoxylum schinifolium and Zanthoxylum piperitum. - Published by PubMed