Spice up your life! Doesn’t that conjure up exotic thoughts of passion and that “something special” about adding a new dimension to your life? Interestingly, the whole idea of spices is to add that something special. Food can be just nourishment to keep us alive, but add some spices and turn the meal to pure joy! There are thousands of spies; here are some of my favorites.
Cinnamon is listed in most texts as one of the spices that spurred world exploration. Studies conducted by Japanese researchers have shown that it contains a substance that is both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. It helps to control virulent outbreaks by many microorganisms including the one that causes botulism and staphylococcus. Historically it has been used for treating bronchitis, arthritis, diarrhea, stomach upset, fever, nausea, parasites, rheumatism, and vomiting. Besides, don’t you just love hot cinnamon apples on a cold winter day?
The Spaniards introduced Ginger to the Americas in the 16th century. It is known to inhibit an enzyme that causes cells to clot and, as such, help to prevent “little strokes”. It helps to relieve nausea, to relieve congestion in the sinus cavities, to warm blood vascular stimulation, to treat sore throats, and as a body cleanser. Herbalists have long recommended it as a regulator of blood cholesterol and to improve blood circulation. In China, ginger is used for bronchitis, flu, and the first stages of the common cold. And at the table, it adds a special zing to some otherwise bland cuisine.
Herbalists have used Clove for centuries to cure nausea and rid the stomach and intestine of gas. Its essential oil is today one of the most effective pain relieving agents used by dentists and has broad-spectrum antibiotic properties. It also helps relieve bad breath, poor circulation, dizziness, nausea, and dysentery. Oh, by the way, it is also said to increase sex drive (just what you need on those cold winter nights!).
Star anise adds the delightful flavor of licorice. It was used by the Romans to provide a delightful palette and to help prevent indigestion from overeating. And today it is a popular addition to cough syrups, mouthwashes, candies, and bakery goods. It is a cell stimulator for the heart, liver, brain, and lungs, and its volatile oils can be helpful for treating bronchitis, spasmodic asthma, and emphysema. It can also be used for colds, coughs, indigestion, excessive mucus, pneumonia, loss of appetite, and stimulating most of the glands.
Oregano was named by the Greeks and means “joy of the mountain.” Technically it is wild marjoram. While its aromatic influence is to strengthen the feeling of security, it has anti-viral qualities. It may aid the body in balancing metabolism and is useful as a tea for coughs, stomach and gallbladder problems, and menstrual pains. “Oregano has also been used for nervous headaches, irritability, exhaustion, and as a sedative. It is thought to prevent seasickness. It can be applied externally for swelling, rheumatism, and a stiff neck. Chewing on an oregano leaf provides temporary relief for a toothache.”
“Basil was said to have been found growing around Christ’s tomb after the resurrection, and some churches use basil to prepare holy water while others set it around their altars. The Indians swore their oaths upon this herb.” Its aromatic influence is reported by many to help one have an open mind. “Basil is food for the brain. When you feel victimized or criticized, eat some basil.” Basil also works as an antidepressant, is helpful for nervous exhaustion and mental fatigue is anti-viral in its use against the flu and helps to relieve itching and ringworm. It may also be used for indigestion, kidney and bladder problems, headaches, cramps, and constipation. And in Africa, it is used to expel parasitic worms.
These and many other have medicinal value. That can sound dry and clinical, but they also just add joy to our lives. Isn’t that what makes them “Super Spices?” And that is a blessing.
– Randy Lee, ND, Owner, The Health Patch, 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, MWC 73130, phone/fax: 736-1030, e-mail: [email protected].