Chances are you’ve got a collection of spices in your kitchen and a few of the ones on this list may be kicking around. Maybe you use them daily, maybe they’ve been hiding in the back of some drawer… Spices and herbs add much more than just flavour to dishes.
Herbs and spices are some of the oldest medicines on the planet. They can help reduce and prevent symptoms from many diseases and ailments, and promote health in a multitude of different ways. Check out 10 of my favourites below, and learn how to incorporate them into your day!
[I am not a doctor and do not dispense medical advice or dismiss the use of modern medicine when necessary. Read my full disclaimer here]
Turmeric: Turmeric has received a lot of attention in the past few years, mostly for its anti-inflammatory benefits. It is even available in supplement form; I do, however, much prefer consuming things as fresh as possible and do not generally like supplements. Stay tuned for a future post on this.
Turmeric is very soothing to the digestive system and acts as an anti-inflammatory, easing the pain of arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. It has a strong, distinctive taste, and is awesome in curries, on roasted chickpeas, or even used as a soothing warm beverage.
Nutmeg: nutmeg often goes unnoticed for its health benefits, and is commonly used in desserts (think pumpkin spice everything). It has some detoxifying properties, and helps with liver and kidney support. Despite being a bit spicy, it is soothing to the digestive system.
Nutmeg is also believed to act as a pain reliever, relieve insomnia, and to improve cognitive function. Use nutmeg in cookies, muffins, warm milky beverages, smoothies, or in savoury dishes.
Ginger: ginger has been known to help with ailments of the female body, such as menstrual pain and pregnancy-related nausea. It can help with motion sickness and general nausea when taken as a tea, or smelling a fresh cut piece.
Ginger is also said to support the cardiovascular system and protect against heart attack and stroke. It can help with bacterial infections, aids in nutrient absorption by helping to calm the digestive system, and is even suggested to have anti-cancer properties.
Use fresh ginger as a tea, in juices, salad dressings (goes great with orange flavour), soups, or [fermented] into homemade ginger ale.
Cinnamon: cinnamon is fantastic for balancing blood sugar, especially for people with diabetes. Like most of the spices mentioned above, it has anti-inflammatory properties. It is rich in antioxidants and high in fibre. Chewing a softened cinnamon stick is said to help relieve tooth pain.
I mainly like to use cinnamon in warm drinks, on oatmeal, in energy balls, or in desserts.
Garlic: Garlic is one of my favourite flavours, and luckily there are a ton of health benefits associated with this tasty bulb. It is well documented in its role as an antimicrobial, and is listed as having anti-inflammatory properties. Dr. Elson Haas implies that garlic may help those with inflammatory bowel disease, but there has been much conflicting research in this area. My opinion on the matter (for now!) is that the garlic itself may not cause digestive distress, but the food it is served with may. You can’t expect to feel amazing after eating a basket of honey garlic wings.
Garlic is also said to be a mild stimulant, helps with blood flow, and may protect against cardiovascular disease. I won’t go into how to use garlic as most people are familiar with this spice, but to sum it up I’ll state that if your digestive system tolerates it, use it in every meal. Yum!
Aloe vera: Yup, you can eat it! Many of us have heard of aloe as being nice and cooling on burns, which it totally is. It also has antibacterial and antioxidant properties, and relieves constipation.
Aloe vera can be juiced or taken as a capsule. I recommend starting with a very low dose until you see how your system tolerates it. For topical use, go to town. It feels great to slather aloe gel on a sunburn!
Basil: Basil is pretty underrated in its medicinal value, I think. It is an awesome source of vitamin A and K, plus a whole slew of minerals like iron, potassium, copper, and magnesium. Basil tea is said to relieve nausea.
My favourite ways to use basil mostly include sauces. Spaghetti sauce and dairy-free pesto are awesome ways to get an abundance of this tasty herb. I also like basil in simple tomato and cucumber salads, and my wife makes amazing salad rolls with basil and green apple. It is also fairly easy to grow in your own kitchen.
Mint: I love mint, and have a few pots growing on my window sill. Mint activates the salivary glands, easing digestion and cleansing the palate, which is why it is often used in appetizers. It can treat headaches and nausea, reduces fatigue, prevents memory loss, and is often used in oral care.
Mint is fun to play around with an can be use a multitude of ways. I like putting fresh mint into my juices as it cuts some of the bitterness from the other greens. It is also great in salads and desserts.
Lemon balm: this herb is amazingly easy to grow; keep it in a pot as it will take over as much space as it can! It has a citrusy tang and is wonderfully calming. It can help promote good sleep, supports the liver, and helps to regulate blood sugar.
I enjoy drinking it in a tea or adding it to my juices and smoothies.
Cilantro: Also known as coriander, and is a real love/hate herb. Some people find that it tastes like soap (I am NOT one of those people). It is high in B vitamins and vitamin K, and helps to cleanse the body of toxic metals like mercury. It promotes fungal balance in the body, can be used to enhance mood, and supports restful sleep.
I like using cilantro in tacos or burritos, in juices, and paired with spicy food.
So, there you have it! Do you have any of these herbs kicking around in your cupboards or gardens?
What are your favourite ways to use them? Let me know in the comments, share your pictures on [Instagram] with the #newpinehealth hashtag!
Until next time,