Anyone who enjoys cooking knows that spices can make or break a meal, but less people realize the amazing healing powers of spice for the body. While we’re distracted by their aromatic flavors (ahhhh), many of the spices we use in our food are secretly fighting off diseases, aiding our bodies with digestion, and improving our overall health and wellness. So crank up some Spice Girls already and learn about 5 of our favorite seasonings!
Turmeric is a staple ingredient in delicious curries and other Indian dishes, and it’s also wonderful for healing your bod. Specifically, turmeric contains an important compound called curcumin. Curcumin is the main active ingredient responsible for turmeric’s power to relieve pain. Turmeric has also been used successfully in studies to improve the brain function of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. And if that wasn’t enough, turmeric has even been proven to help prevent the growth and spread of cancerous cells in the body. If it weren’t for turmeric’s strong, distinct flavor, we’d eat it with everything!
Like turmeric, ginger root also contains the medicinal compound, curcumin, and has a long standing history of healing power. In addition to making a delicious organic mint flavor (heyo!), ginger is incredible for relieving digestive issues like diarrhea and constipation and fighting the common cold. One of ginger’s most notable healing powers is its ability to treat nausea. So ladies, ginger is the perfect natural cure for morning sickness or menstrual pain. Next time you’re feeling sore and crampy, save your Midol bucks and try sipping some ginger tea instead.
Cinnamon, oh cinnamon. How we love thee. A delicious natural sweetener, cinnamon is also a crazy powerful antioxidant. Translation: it helps prevent and fight diseases. But buyer beware, to reap the wonderful healing powers of this spice, be sure you’re picking Ceylon cinnamon, also called True cinnamon. It’s a little pricier, but Ceylon cinnamon contains higher antioxidant levels and smaller traces of coumarin (a natural blood-thinner that can cause liver damage when consumed in large doses) than its cheaper, more commonly found counterpart.
Sage is sweet, savory, and great for your noggin. Rightfully associated with wisdom, sage’s healing powers have to do with brain function and mood. Studies have shown that including sage in your diet can enhance memory and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. So next time you’re feeling a little tense or fuzzy, reap the healing powers of sage by stirring a little into a soup or pasta sauce. It’s even delicious sprinkled on a slice of pizza. How’s that for an excuse to eat carbs?
Thyme is jam-packed full of vitamins A and C, copper, fiber and iron (among other things). It’s a natural immunity booster and can stop a cold in its tracks. It’s also got antiseptic and anti-fungal properties, which makes it fantastic for oral health. Try mixing a teaspoon of dried thyme leaves into a cup of boiled water. Let cool, strain, and gargle. Voila! You’ve just made a cheap, all-natural mouthwash. Talk about making thyme for your health! (Okay, that was lame — even for us.)
NOTE: Not all spices are created equally. Speak to your health care practitioner about the different grades of spices and the doses that will work best for you.