Buying bucket-loads of pharmaceutical pills that seem only to worsen—or make more—symptoms is both costly and often ineffective. Little did we know that our cooking cabinets can sometimes serve as mini-medicine cabinets! Here are 5 spices you probably already have that can improve the quality of your life.
Turmeric. If I had to talk about only one spice, turmeric would be it. Turmeric and its main component, curcumin, are antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. (Given that inflammation is a common link between various conditions from arthritis to heart disease, this powerhouse anti-inflammatory is a good spice to have in your cabinet.) A UCLA study found that curcumin blocks cancer growth; another study by the University of Texas associates turmeric with possibly slowing the spread of breast cancer. Additionally, many experts believe that the reason India’s elderly population has such few cases of Alzheimer’scompared to Americans is because of this spice.
How to use it
- Sprinkle it on meat before grilling it to lower the amount of carcinogenic heterocyclic amines (HCAs) formed when meat is grilled.
- Brew a teaspoon of turmeric with a pot of boiled water and add a drop of lemon juice or honey.
- Add to curries or even deviled eggs (and egg sandwiches) for a bold yellow hue and more complex, flavorful taste.
Cinnamon. This delicious spice is loaded with iron, calcium, manganese, and even some fiber. It’s antioxidant and, according to celebrity nutritionist Oz Garcia, “has a remarkable effect on regulating blood sugar,” making it a must for diabetics.
How to use it
- Add to almost any baked good or tea. In addition, “sweet spices such as cinnamon can also satisfy cravings and when added to tea or fruit, may eliminate the need for supplementary sweeteners,” according to Cheryl Forberg, R.D..
- Try this healthy smoothie or juice: 1 apple, 1/8 tsp turmeric, 1/8 tsp cinnamon, 2 cups water. Add organic yogurt or honey for added flavor and nutrition.
Oregano. Another spice heavy in antioxidants, oregano is the mother of oregano oil, which has been attributed with effectively battling E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria by a study in the Journal of Food Science. The phytochemical responsible: carvacrol, which is antibacterial and antimicrobial.
How to use it
- Add oregano to any Italian dish. It’s easy to grow in a garden—even in small spaces like apartments.
- Add 5 drops of oregano oil and 5 drops of peppermint oil to 4 cups of distilled water for an easy (and economical) homemade mouthwash. Add clove oil if you’ve got a toothache.
Ginger. It’s anti-inflammatory and anti-tussive, meaning it suppresses coughs. Not only does this make ginger a great home remedy ingredient for those prone to colds, it even works to ease discomfort from arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. Many Chinese herbalists recommend it for acne, too.
How to use it
- Cut off a small chunk of ginger, dice or crush it, and throw it into a pot of boiling water. Add lemon juice and honey to your tea for a pleasant and extremely healthy morning drink. Drink it instead of coffee for two weeks and you’ll find yourself more invigorated.
Rosemary. A study in 2010 found that rosemary (among other spices) reduced carcinogenic compounds produced when meat is grilled. (Sound familiar? Turmeric does that, too!) Rosemary is also high in antioxidants, is antifungal, and is anti-bacterial. Those with yeast-related conditions—candidaiasis, for example—can benefit from adding rosemary to their diet.
- Brew a cup or rosemary tea for an antioxidant, anti-yeast boost. Some say it can even help alleviate symptoms of Meniere’s disease.
- Add a sprig of rosemary to a pot of potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and animal bone like chicken or beef for a great stew or homemade broth.
Be sure to let your physician know your diet so that no drugs are counteracted by these beneficial and powerful spices.
What’s your favorite spice?
About the Author: Heather Green is a mom, freelance writer, pet lover and the resident blogger for OnlineNursingDegrees.org, a free informational website offering tips and advice about online healthcare admin degrees and online medical assisting degrees.