Top 5 Spices in my Kitchen (Medicine) Cabinet

9 Mar

Spices have amazing properties. There are entire websites and books dedicated to their healing attributes. Today, I’d like to cover a few basic staples. As with all supplements, they should be taken with caution. If you take any medication check with your pharmacist about possible interactions before adding spices to your supplement regimen.

Cinnamon
Cinnamon has been getting praise as of late, in regards to its ability to assist in blood sugar management. Even the Mayo Clinic says that patients with type II diabetes can benefit from taking a cinnamon supplement. It’s said to lessen the impact of sugar on the blood.

According to German research it can also “supress completely” the bacteria that causes urinary tract infections, as well as assist in controlling the fungus candida albicans.

Cinnamon can eliminate many of the types of bacteria that cause food poisoning, and when mixed with ginger you can easily avoid stomach upset and reduce the symptoms of food poisoning.

Keep in mind that using cinnamon is not like taking a typical OTC medication. It contains compounds that thin the blood. Cinnamon also assists in metabolic function and according to Thyroid-Info.com can reduce cholesterol, as well. One great way to monitor your intake is to take it in supplement form – or if you like the controlled portion but love the flavor, pull the capsule apart and sprinkle it on food, or in a beverage. I use it on many different things – next summer try it on some watermelon! Cinnamon will also assist in cleansing the liver and detoxifying the blood.

Turmeric/Curcurmin
Turmeric is a beautiful yellow spice that will stain just about anything you get it on! Traditionally used in Indian curry dishes turmeric is now known as one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory spices in the natural supplement kingdom. In many countries it is used as a treatment for cancer, namely prostate. Some studies suggest that it may remove plaque buildup from the arteries, and the brain. It was shown to prevent the spread of breast cancer in mice, and of course more research on humans is needed.

Of all spice supplements, in my humble opinion, turmeric is king. It has also shown positive effects for arthritis sufferers. Check out this great list 20 Health Benefits of Turmeric.

A word to the wise (and not-so-wise): after dealing with a shoulder pain for several weeks, I decided to try using turmeric topically as my late-night googling suggested. I made a nice paste with some aloe vera gel, put it on, and covered it with a large gauze. The next day, it wouldn’t wash off. My skin was stained for nearly a week, and afterwards peeled like a sunburn. I do not recommend this!

Fresh Ginger Root
 If you like spices with a bite, its likely you may have forgotten about ginger. While the dry ginger in the spice aisle certainly has its place, there’s nothing like the bite of freshly grated or juiced ginger root. If you do a lot of juicing with apples, try adding an inch of ginger root. It will keep your apple juice white! (The brown color comes from oxidation.) Much like cinnamon, ginger is known in traditional medicine to help with symptoms of arthritis, thin the blood and reduce cholesterol.

Ginger is great for upset stomach, and is known to calm down stomach upsets due to some strains of food poisoning. In China ginger is used to calm a cough. There are many uses for ginger (not to mention, it’s really yummy!).

Cayenne Pepper
Of my list of staple spices to keep in the cupboard/medicine cabinet cayenne pepper is often forgotten. It’s bite is certainly as loud as its bite. One year someone brought an awful virus to the office. You know the drill, one day Mark can’t swallow and he thinks he has strep, and two days later Phil calls out. A few more days and your throat is on fire. Mark is the first to visit the doctor. He’s told he has a virus, and he should be nearly through it. The Dr. basically says “wait it out.”

Mark gets that call from a crazy relative about cayenne pepper. We’re all miserable enough to try it. Behold.. it works. Here are the most pleasant ways to take it: 1. Mix it in some tomato soup. or 2. Mix it in hot chocolate (dark is best!). You need enough to bite the pain in your throat, literally. It should sting. Sip slowly to ensure the longest amount of time spent in this “stinging” phase. Repeat 2-3 times a day, it shouldn’t take more than 1-2 days to work. While I don’t know the mechanism of this, I will say: I have not had a cold in 5 years, since I learned this trick, the moment I feel a tingle I have cayenne pepper.

While it is more pleasant in a good dark hot chocolate, monitor your sugar intake anytime you’re fighting a cold – and if you still drink that nasty sugar water that I so dearly love (my personal weakness, Dr. Pepper) remember that 1 can of soda can take your immune system down for 24 hours.

Garlic
Like the other top-5, garlic is a potent medicine. It is known to have antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. Said to lower blood pressure and cholesterol garlic is another spice that has a list of health benefits. Much like ginger, while it’s dried variety is fine for cooking, its health properties are best found from the raw form. Because of its strong flavor, many people opt to take a it in supplement form.

Here’s a great list from my-home-remedies.com of the healing properties of garlic. As always, do some of your own research and ask a medical care professional or pharmacist before adding spices to your daily regimen. They can be quite powerful – they can also be quite wonderful!

On that note, stay warm, stay healthy – and for a delicious way to combine all 5 of my favorites, see my last post with my Butternut Squash Soup recipe. Please let me hear if you try any of my suggestions. I’d love to hear about your experience.

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5 Responses to “Top 5 Spices in my Kitchen (Medicine) Cabinet”

  1. Sarah Norton October 20, 2011 at 10:47 pm #

    The BEST after dinner drink to me is something that I typically would get after a korean meal. It is simply ginger root, peeled, sliced and boiled in a big pot of water. You also throw in some cinnamon sticks & a raw sugar, agave nectar, or raw honey. It is the most refreshing and cleansing thing ever. Not only does it calm your tummy, it cleanses your palette. You can serve it hot or chilled. I’ve seen recipes calling for pine nuts and persimmons, but I’ve never had them when I’ve had it.

    • NaturalNutritionGuru October 21, 2011 at 7:05 am #

      That sounds almost like a chai (minus the milk). My personal favorite is 2-3 small apples, about a third bag of baby spinach and an inch of ginger root. Blend & strain for a really good green juice. While I used to use an actual juicer, I’ve found that hand straining is much faster for cleanup. You can use a cheese cloth, or paint straining bags after mashing the mix in a blender (or Ninja). I usually need to add a half cup of water or so. Stash also makes a great detox tea that has some really strong ginger. Now that I’ve juiced it raw, that is definitely my preference.

  2. Sarah Norton October 21, 2011 at 7:36 am #

    Hm. Maybe you should do a blog about juicing. I’ve always been interested in it, but I’m afraid it’s going to taste like butt : )

  3. Flavia Reando November 3, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    Detox tea are great because they also contain theanine which helps calm the mind…

    Brand new brief article on our own web-site
    http://www.foodsupplementdigest.com/yerba-mate-tea/

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Keeping winter colds at bay. « NaturalNutritionGuru - November 14, 2011

    […] 8. Scratchy throat? Gargle with warm sea salt water several times a day or try cayenne pepper as described in my blog about spices. […]

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