By: Dr. Masoud Abdar
Throughout history and modern science both attest that the following 10 herbs and spices carry loads of profits for your health. See how you can modify your diet to incorporate more of these:
- Cinnamon- Lowers blood sugar levels and has a powerful anti-diabetic effect. Cinnamon can lower blood sugar by several mechanisms, including by slowing the breakdown of carbs in the digestive tract and improving insulin sensitivity. It contains a compound called cinnamaldehyde, which is responsible for cinnamon’s medicinal properties.Cinnamon has potent antioxidant activity, helps fight inflammation and has been shown to lower cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.
- Sage- Current research indicates that sage may be able to improve brain function and memory, especially in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is accompanied by a drop in the level of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger in the brain, and sage inhibits the breakdown of acetylcholine. In a 4-month study of 42 individuals with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, sage extract was shown to produce significant improvements in brain function.
- Peppermint– Peppermint has a long history of use in folk medicine and aromatherapy. Many studies have shown that peppermint oil can improve pain management in irritable bowel syndrome and may reduce nausea. It appears to work by relaxing the smooth muscles in the colon, which relieves pain experienced during bowel movements. It also helps to reduce abdominal bloating, which is a common digestive symptom. In a study of over 1,100 women in labor, peppermint aromatherapy caused significant reductions in nausea. It has also been shown to reduce nausea after surgery and C-section births.
- Turmeric– Contains Curcumin, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Curcumin is a remarkably powerful antioxidant, boosting the body’s own antioxidant enzymes, and helping to fight oxidative damage which is responsible for aging and many diseases. Studies also suggest that it can improve brain function, fight Alzheimer’s, reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, and relieve arthritis, among other benefits because of its strong anti-inflammatory properties.
- Holy Basil– Not to be confused with sweet or thai basil. Holy basil helps fight infections and boosts immunity. Studies show that holy basil can inhibit the growth of a range of bacteria, yeasts and molds. Studies also found it can boost function of the immune system by increasing certain immune cells in blood. Holy basil is also linked to reduced blood sugar levels before and after meals, as well as treating anxiety and anxiety-related depression.
- Cayenne Pepper– Contains Capsaicin, which has been shown to reduce appetite and increase fat burning in many studies. This pepper has also been linked to anti-cancer properties. Some animal studies have found Capsaicin to combat certain forms of cancers, including lung, liver and prostate cancer.
- Ginger– Can treat nausea and has anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have consistently shown that 1 gram or more of ginger can successfully treat nausea, whether it be from morning sickness, chemotherapy, sea sickness, etc. Ginger also appears to have strong anti-inflammatory properties, and can help with pain management. Research found that a mixture of ginger, cinnamon, mastic, and sesame oil decreases pain and stiffness experienced by those with osteoarthritis. It had a similar effectiveness as treatment with aspirin or ibuprofen.
- Fenugreek– Contains the plant protein 4-hydroxyisoleucine, which can improve the function of the hormone, insulin. Many studies have shown that at least 1 gram of fenugreek extract per day can lower blood sugar levels, particularly in diabetics. Fenugreek is also commonly used in Ayurveda, particularly to enhance libido and masculinity, and is thought to be naturally testosterone boosting.
- Rosemary– Contains rosmarinic acid, which can help prevent allergies and nasal congestion. This substance has been shown to suppress allergic responses and nasal congestion. In a study with 29 individuals, both 50 and 200 mg doses of Rosmarinic acid were shown to suppress allergy symptoms. The number of immune cells in nasal mucus also decreased, with reduced congestion.
- Garlic– Can combat sickness and improve heart health. The compound, allicin, which is also responsible for garlic’s smell, is well known for combatting sickness, including the common cold. For those with high cholesterol, garlic supplementation appears to reduce total and/or LDL (bad) cholesterol by about 10-15%. Studies have also found garlic to cause significant reductions in blood pressure in people with high blood pressure, almost if not equally as well as some blood pressure drugs.
* Eight of these herbs can be found almost anywhere, however holy basil and fenugreek are a little harder to come by. Search on the internet for a supplier, or contact your local herbalist to find out where you can not only find these herbs conveniently, but also potentially look into growing them in a pot of your own!