Your kitchen spice rack is far more potent than you may realize.
Plenty of research shows that
spices have powerful antioxidant,
antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory
properties that help prevent and
treat minor ailments like colds and
flu as well as more serious problems
like arthritis and heart disease. For
many people, spices offer a valuable
alternative to pharmaceuticals,
without the risk of serious side effects.
My grandmother Fritzie taught me
how to take care of my body from
head to toe, inside and out, using
only natural remedies. Because of
her wisdom, I have never had to take
medication in my life. My pantry
is filled with natural remedies—
including spices—that I use both
personally and in my private practice.
Here are a handful of spices and
their benefits. Keep in mind that
many spices gain their healing
properties in the drying process,
when naturally occurring enzymes
are activated, so don’t assume you
have to buy them fresh. Some spices
(such as turmeric, cinnamon, and
garlic) are also available in capsules.
This spice (also known as red-hot chili pepper) shows promise
for cutting cancer risk due to the
anti-inflammatory and antioxidant
properties of the compound
capsaicin. Research also suggests that
this spice may boost weight loss for
three reasons. Because of the heat
produced when you eat cayenne,
it both increases metabolism and
independently burns more calories in
fueling the body’s cool-down process.
Some experts further believe that
eating sharp-tasting foods (foods
that taste sour, tangy, pungent, tart,
or bitter), including hot peppers, can
overwhelm taste buds, cutting off
cravings and making you feel fuller.
Researchers in the Netherlands
gave men . 9 grams of ground cayenne
pepper and then 30 minutes later
turned them loose at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Compared with those given
a placebo, the men who took cayenne
ate up to 16 percent less.
Remember cayenne is from the
nightshade family, so avoid it if you
have trouble digesting nightshade
vegetables (such as tomatoes,
eggplant, and potatoes).
The aromatic ingredient that gives
curry its vibrant, golden color is a
powerful antioxidant that reduces
inflammation, supports healthy joint
function, and helps maintain healthy
cholesterol levels. It’s also a great
source of beta-carotene.
Turmeric is also a very rich source
of curcumin, which has been shown to
reduce the risk of colon cancer by 58
percent in animal studies. Curcumin
protects the eyes from free radicals,
one of the leading causes of cataracts.
Other research has shown that when
AIDS patients are given curcumin,
their illness progresses more slowly.
This aromatic spice invigorates
healthy digestion, boosts circulation,
and has a long history of easing
stomach upsets. It’s my favorite go-to
remedy for motion sickness. The
results of one study on 80 Navy cadets
found that 1,000 mg of ginger powder
capsules effectively controlled motion
sickness symptoms including nausea,
vomiting, vertigo, and cold sweats.
A compound in ginger called
gingerol has a chemical structure
H EALI N G
Why spicing up your life just might spruce up your health.
By Susan Smith Jones, Ph.D.