Many commonly known herbs and spices contain anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties, as well as a plethora of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients. You can add medicinal benefits of culinary herbs and spices to your food when you choose them wisely.
Inflammation is the root of many of modern diseases. In our family, we opt for what we think are the best dietary choices to minimize inflammation. A DHA rich diet and big doses of anti-inflammatory herbs are two ways we like to minimize the negative effects of inflammation. The medicinal benefits of culinary herbs and spices should not be underestimated. Vice president at McCormick & Company, Marianne Gillette explains
One half teaspoon of ground cinnamon has as many antioxidants as a half cup of blueberries; a half teaspoon of dried oregano rivals three cups of raw spinach1
In our sauerkrauts, green flax crackers, pemmican and even bone broth we enjoy added flavor and medicinal benefits of consciously elected herbs. Whenever I can, I try to to maximize the nutrient density of our food by packing it fill with as many of these herbs and spices as possible.
These herbs and spices can boost brain health, reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system. The whole family can reap the health benefits of culinary herbs and spices. As a whole food source of nutrition, herbs and spices are safe in large doses.
Benefits of 9 Powerful Culinary Herbs and Spices
A popular orange root well known within the natural health community for its significant anti-inflammatory effects. Turmeric contains high amounts of potassium, iron, magnesium, vitamin B6 and C. Turmeric is an Ayurvedic herb used for a wide variety of ailments including long-term and overall heath, now confirmed by recent evidence2.
Curcumin is an active ingredient providing most of the therapeutic anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Curcumin is not readily absorbed in the bloodstream, however, by combining turmeric with black pepper absorption is enhanced by 2000%3. This root assists in the healthy function of our brains, proving to delaying or even reversing many brain diseases and age-related decreases in brain function4. It also promotes heart health by protecting various pathways of the cardiovascular system5.
Ginger is the most popular herb for stomach ailments like nausea, morning sickness, and gas. In addition to the gastrointestinal benefits, the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger give it more reasons to be stocked in every kitchen. Along with its spicy flavor, this root supports immune function and has been used for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedic traditions to promote longevity.
Cayenne is one of my favorite medicinal spices. Cayenne pepper contains vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin E, potassium, manganese and flavonoids which give the chili its antioxidant properties.
This hot pepper is a therapeutic agent for the immune, digestive and circulatory systems. It is an anti-fungal, anti-irritant, anti-bacterial and anti-allergin. One half teaspoon with a meal can help curb hunger and burn calories9 while topical applications can alleviate muscle pain10.
Another antioxidant and anti-inflammatory food, garlic is a common staple in many cuisines. Garlic contains manganese, vitamin B1, B6, C and selenium in addition to calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, and iron.
Cinnamon is a spice with many evidence based health benefits. This dried bark is a richly flavored spice used in both sweet and savory dishes. This spice is a source of calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium.
Herbal lore is dotted with the use of rosemary, this herb is a source of iron, calcium, and vitamin B6.
Rosemary is traditionally used to help alleviate muscle pain, improve memory, promote hair growth, and boost the immune and circulatory systems. As a source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds14, rosemary also contains carnosic acid, that is able to fight off free radical damage in the brain.
Related to wild marjoram, oregano is a hearty herb that grows in a variety of conditions but this genetic strength doesn’t outshine the medicinal benefits. The oregano leaf is rich in phytochemicals, vitamin E, K, iron and manganese. It is a potent antibacterial, oregano oil is a useful natural treatment for colds, sore throats and infections.
Research demonstrates that oregano has the highest total antioxidant capacity and phenolic content when compared with thyme, sage, rosemary, mint, and sweet basil15.
The leaves and flowers of this medicinal plant are a source of vitamin C, K copper, iron and manganese. Thyme is a traditional herbal remedy, now backed by evidence, for respiratory illnesses and infections 16. Thyme is another powerful anti-fungal showing promise against moulds and other fungi17.
Cilantro contains vitamin C, A and K as well as small amounts of folate, potassium, manganese and choline. This green leafy herb has a high antioxidant count and is a common ingredient in “detoxification” blends due to its anti-microbial properties and heavy metal chelating abilities18.
Enhance both the flavor of your food and your overall health with the medicinal benefits of these culinary herbs and spices!
**all photos are credited to Mt Rose Herbs – bulk seller of dried herbs and spices**
Don’t forget – Nutrition Matters!
1. [Schrock, Karen (2010, May 30). The hidden health power of spices and herbs is revealed in recent studies. Scientific American Blogs. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2010/05/30/the-hidden-health-power-of-spices-and-herbs-is-revealed-in-recent-studies/.]↩
2. [Monika Nagpal and Shaveta Sood. Role of curcumin in systemic and oral health: An overview. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2013 Jan-Jun; 4(1): 3–7.]↩
3. [Shoba G, Joy D, Joseph T, Majeed M, Rajendran R, Srinivas PS. Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Med. 1998 May;64(4):353-6.]↩
4. [Suzhen Dong. Curcumin Enhances Neurogenesis and Cognition in Aged Rats: Implications for Transcriptional Interactions Related to Growth and Synaptic Plasticity. February 16, 2012 http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0031211 ]↩
5. [Wongcharoen W. Effects of curcuminoids on frequency of acute myocardial infarction after coronary artery bypass grafting. Am J Cardiol. 2012 Jul 1;110(1):40-4. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2012.02.043. Epub 2012 Apr 3.]↩
6. [Black CD, O’Connor PJ. Acute effects of dietary ginger on muscle pain induced by eccentric exercise. Phytother Res. 2010 Nov;24(11):1620-6. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3148.]↩
7. [Altman RD, Marcussen KC. Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Arthritis Rheum. 2001 Nov;44(11):2531-8.]↩
8. [Oyagbemi AA, Saba AB, Azeez OI. Molecular targets of gingerol: Its potential roles in cancer chemoprevention. Biofactors. 2010 May-Jun;36(3):169-78. doi: 10.1002/biof.78.]↩
9. [ Mary-Jon Ludy, Richard D. Mattes. The effects of hedonically acceptable red pepper doses on thermogenesis and appetite. Physiology & Behavior. Volume 102, Issues 3–4, 1 March 2011, Pages 251–258]↩
10. [BMJ 2004;328:991]↩
11. [Kianoush S. Comparison of therapeutic effects of garlic and d-Penicillamine in patients with chronic occupational lead poisoning. Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2012 May;110(5):476-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-7843.2011.00841.x. Epub 2011 Dec 29.]↩
12. [Boga M, Hacibekiroglu I, Kolak U. Antioxidant and anticholinesterase activities of eleven edible plants. Pharm Biol. 2011;49(3):290-295]↩
13. [Shan B, Cai YZ, Sun M, Corke H. Antioxidant capacity of 26 spice extracts and characterization of their phenolic constituents. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Oct 5;53(20):7749-59.]↩
14. [Peng CH, Su JD, Chyau CC, Sung TY, Ho SS, Peng CC, Peng RY. Supercritical fluid extracts of rosemary leaves exhibit potent anti-inflammation and anti-tumor effects. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2007 Sep;71(9):2223-32. Epub 2007 Sep 7.]↩
15. [Singletary K. MSI funded paper: potential health benefits of oregano. McCormick Science Institute website. http://cfprod.mccormick.com/msi2prod/content.cfm?id=10532]↩
16. [Kemmerich B, Eberhardt R, Stammer H. Efficacy and tolerability of a fluid extract combination of thyme herb and ivy leaves and matched placebo in adults suffering from acute bronchitis with productive cough. A prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Arzneimittelforschung. 2006;56(9):652-60.]↩
17. [Segvić Klarić M, Kosalec I, Mastelić J, Piecková E, Pepeljnak S. Antifungal activity of thyme (Thymus vulgaris L.) essential oil and thymol against moulds from damp dwellings. Lett Appl Microbiol. 2007 Jan;44(1):36-42.]↩
18. [Omura Y, Beckman SL. Role of mercury (Hg) in resistant infections & effective treatment of Chlamydia trachomatis and Herpes family viral infections (and potential treatment for cancer) by removing localized Hg deposits with Chinese parsley and delivering effective antibiotics using various drug uptake enhancement methods. Acupunct Electrother Res. 1995 Aug-Dec;20(3-4):195-229.]↩