You have a cabinet full of miracle medicine at home! I’m sure you realize that some of it is good for you, this sort of information has been all over the news. But the information is scattered and comes in small doses so that unless you keep a journal you will have trouble putting it all together. So I thought it might be handy to list every spice, explain how it works and give ideas for uses in your cooking. I will be posting in the future recipes that will help heal certain diseases. I am waiting until Winter because most of my recipes are too hearty for summer fare.
Although I have covered the subject in various ways and to a certain extent in previous posts, I am going to bring it all together now. Which spices can be used to heal what? And how do I use that spice in a meal? Here are the answers, in a simple list form:
Cumin: Prevents Cancer
Cancer rates are lower in both India and areas of the Middle East where Cumin is a staple in the diet. Studies have shown that Curcumin, a component of Cumin, inhibits enzymes that encourage cancer cells to invade healthy tissue. It has also been known to keep tumors from developing the new blood vessels that help them get bigger.
If you have cancer or have a family history of the disease, it wouldn’t hurt to add Cumin to your diet. You can do this by making tea, adding it to foods or taking it out of the bottle. A favorite Indian and Middle Eastern recipe is created by using pasta chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and Cumin. Beans are exceptionally good with Cumin.
DOSAGE: 6 teaspoons of seeds or 1/2 teaspoon of powder a day.
Ginger: Prevents Nausea and Dizziness
I have taken this myself so I swear by it. I had severe anemia for years and had a hard time battling the dizziness and subsequent nausea. I had to work so controlling this was essential. I tried everything but anti-emetics made me sleepy or spacey so I just couldn’t use them. And then I read about Ginger. So I started drinking all natural Ginger Ale, the kind with a piece of Ginger in the bottle, and then eating raw Ginger as well. This actually controlled my dizziness regardless of the hypoxia I was experiencing and made it possible for me to keep working.
I have read that the Chinese have conducted medical texts on Ginger dating back to the fourth century BC. These tests have provided proof of Ginger’s antinausea properties, causing the spice to be used throughout the eastern world as a medicine. Today, our modern clinical studies have contributed concrete scientific proof that it works. These studies show that a substance in Ginger shuts down a nerve receptor in the body that triggers the vomiting reflex.
Use it when you go cruising on the ocean, driving long distances, walking through large crowds, any place where you might feel dizzy or sick. You can eat it fresh as a dried root or drink the Ginger Ale I love. You can also use it in baking, making Gingerbread or cookies that everyone will love.
DOSAGE: Juice from 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger or 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger four times a day. Chew on a single root several times a day or drink a bottle of natural Ginger Ale as often as you like. But check the bottles to be sure that it contains real Ginger and isn’t just commercial flavoring.
Basil: Prevents Colds
Basil is documented to be rich in antioxidants, which we all know will help boost immunity. Did you know that it’s also an antimicrobial, which means it can fight the germs that can cause colds? Thank goodness it’s used in lots of warm, Italian recipes because the cold season always arrives when it’s freezing outside. So during the winter make the Italian dishes you love and eat them often! Use lots of Basil while you do it.
If you don’t like Italian food or want to make something different, remember that Basil is a conservative spice that does not have a strong flavor. It can be added to just about anything, from green beans to tomato soup. So don’t be shy about experimenting.
DOSAGE: Try to get 1 to 2 tablespoons a day.
Cinnamon: Fights Diabetes
Here is another spice I swear by. I use it after I have a big sugary treat and I don’t have the insulin rush I usually get an hour later. I swear. I can now eat a treat, add some Cinnamon, and not be starving hungry again in such a short time. I have hyperinsulinism which makes me hungry all the time as I digest sugar very quickly and then my pancreas wipes out my sugar levels right away. I end up hungry within hours of eating large meals. It can make me very fat.
On the other hand, my brother has type 2 Diabetes and for a long time he was on a “meat only” diet, unable to even eat a potato! So I got him to start taking Cinnamon. At first, he was shy about it because Cinnamon always seems to be on pastries and he was not comfortable eating pastries. And he did not want to eat it by the spoonful. So I prepared him a mix of Cinnamon and aspartame (which I won’t eat but he will) to use on whole grain bread or low carb treats. He started using it and guess what? When he tests his blood sugar levels, they stay normal, even after a starch! So now he can drink his favorite low carb beer or whole grain starch without so much worry. And he hasn’t felt “rotten” in a while. When he takes the Cinnamon, his blood sugar remains stable. (If you hate aspartame, like me, then try stevia, which is more natural).
It is a fact that people with type-2 diabetes have difficulty processing insulin. This is the hormone that tells cells to remove excess sugar from the bloodstream. So, as a result, they always have too much sugar in their blood. Current studies show that cinnamon contains a substance that helps cells respond to insulin. This fantastic compound causes a reduction of blood sugar levels, studies show it does this by an average of 18 percent to 29 percent!
DOSAGE: 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon (or one stick) a day.
Rosemary: Improves Memory
I am going to try this one next. I have heard that it works really well and I am a Rosemary lover. My favorite snack is a plate of olive oil, salt, garlic and rosemary and a thick slice of whole grain bread to dip in it, one delicious bite at a time.
I have used Ginkgo Biloba and Ginseng Tablets to improve my memory and clear my mind and I can attest that they work. But Rosemary is more readily available, cheaper and you can grow it in the yard. So this is my next experiment. Lots of whole grain bread with Rosemary and olive oil. I’ll let you know later on if it slows this middle age memory loss that I’m struggling with.
There are a number of studies that seem to verify the claim that Rosemary restores memory. It has been found that the ursolic acid in rosemary inhibits the breakdown of a neurotransmitter essential for memory. So, in this fashion, it actually keeps you from losing your memory over time.
DOSAGE: 1 to 2 teaspoons a day. I plan to eat a lot more than this!
Garlic: Reduces Cholesterol
This is the most commonly known spice. Garlic is everywhere! It may well be the most popular spice in the world. It is used in cooking everywhere and is added to many prepared food products in the supermarket. I know a lot of people who are eating Garlic to counteract their margarine consumption or to help with their cholesterol clots. It is one of those spices that is just so delicious and so commonly used that it just can’t hurt to experiment. Just remember to chew some parsley afterward!
In general, researchers disagree about how effective garlic really is. It has been tested in the effort at lowering cholesterol in several studies conducted by the Linus Pauling Institute. The researchers found that people who took garlic for three months had a 6 percent to 11 percent reduction in total cholesterol. This is NOT BAD. Although it was not shown to get rid of it altogether, this reduction is a fair enough amount to give credence. If you are eating Cheerios for this purpose, Garlic shows the same results.
Remember, too, that because garlic is an antioxidant, it may prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the arteries. This is a bonus that can’t be ignored and could be a reason for eating it all on it’s own.
DOSAGE: 3 to 5 crushed cloves a day. But I know people who eat several entire bulbs a day. A common way of ingesting large amounts is to bake the bulb in the oven and squeeze the soft pulp from the cooked cloves into a bowl. Mash it, mix it with a little olive oil and smear it on your favorite bread.
Nutmeg: Lowers Blood Pressure
This is a cure I’ve heard about a lot and I tried to get my sister to use it. She had high blood pressure that had her taking medication that made her nauseous. However, she chose a different path. She lost weight, starting walking a lot and stopped eating salt. But there are times in everyone’s life when they just can’t lose weight, exercise is too time consuming in the light of a hectic schedule and, if you’re like me, the idea of eliminating salt dooms the palate to bland and boring foods. Under these conditions, Nutmeg is worth a try.
It has always been known that spices that “warm the body” like Nutmeg (and others) bring blood from the center of the body, where is builds pressure, to the skin, where it disperses pressure. This is similar to the effect of Niacin (Vitamin B3), which is used to control blood pressure as well. When the blood is dispersed more generally all over the body and isn’t centered in one intense place, the overall pressure drops. So if you have high blood pressure and can’t keep taking a certain medication, then you have nothing to lose here. Try Nutmeg.
Nutmeg can be added to soups and desserts. It is also good in gravies and seasonings. As a last resort, you can always make a tea out of it and drink it once a day.
DOSAGE: 1/2 to 1 teaspoon a day.
Cloves: Helps Arthritis Pain
Actually, in my experience, Cloves help all kinds of pain. When I have a toothache, I go to the Clove oil. When I have a tension headache, I rub my temples with Cloves. And when my joints ache, Cloves work wonders, as well. And my joints ache a lot! I’m not getting any younger and I’ve lived an active and athletic life so I have some joint damage. My joints hurt often, mostly early in the morning. For years I used Bengay, then I graduated to Biofreeze and I would never take anything away from these cures; they work wonderfully. But a bottle of ground Cloves is a great deal less expensive than these commercial products. And then I can make my own oils if I like.
But if you are using it topically for Arthritis, I would not rub the oil on the skin. It is really strong and create a burning sensation (but not unlike other pain rubs). If you don’t like that burning sensation and don’t want to rub your skin with commercial chemicals, consider taking Cloves in your diet. According to Chinese medicine, cloves have hot and moving properties that relieve arthritis pain caused by cold and stagnation.
Studies show that Cloves can stop general inflammation, which is a culprit in arthritis. Cloves contain a phytochemical that interrupts the pathways of a protein complex linked to inflammatory diseases. In this way, taken internally, Cloves work to control the inflammation that causes the pain and if you have arthritis that flares often, you should take it every day. Add Cloves to your food, take it by the spoonful or buy Clove oil and drop it under your tongue.
DOSAGE: 1/2 teaspoon a day.
Turmeric: Controls Inflammation
This is a spice that would be great to use in conjunction with Cloves in the treatment of inflammatory diseases. Inflammation is the direct cause of pain and can be exhausting and deleterious to the general health of the body. It is also believed that general inflammation in the body contributes to heart disease and cancer. In fact, invisible inflammation is a huge factor in many diseases and is a common cause of general ill health. This is inflammation deep inside the body that is not isolated on the surface so you don’t realize it’s there.
It is generally known that Turmeric reduces the inflammation in the body that causes pain. Just like Cumin, which helps cure cancer, Turmeric contains Curcumin, a component that inhibits cell enzymes which contribute to inflammation. It is also helpful with cancer and Cumin can be useful in controlling inflammation, as well. They are basically interchangeable.
Both spices are ancient and are included in the compound spice, Curry Powder. To help control inflammation and to reduce the instance of cancer, use Curry often. There are hundreds of Middle Eastern and Indian recipes containing Curry. In fact, there is a wonderful dish, simply called Curry, that can be made during the winter. It is hearty and warm.
DOSAGE: 1/2 to 1 teaspoon a day. But if you love Curry, you can gulp down a lot more than this!
Thyme: Controls Coughing
I bet you didn’t know this! Yes, Thyme, that little bottle in your cabinet, is a cough suppressent. It is cheaper and more accessible than cough syrup and isn’t filled with sugar and chemicals! I have made a tisane from Thyme to stop a chronic cough and have even taken the liquid to work. I worked a long time in phone sales for a cruise line so I took thousands of calls a day and could not be coughing at all. This stuff worked! And it didn’t give me “medicine head”!
You see, Thyme is an antispasmodic. This helps a lot with bouts of nonstop coughing. It also has antiseptic properties that make it very effective against inflammation of the throat, which can cause coughing. It cleans the throat, thins the mucus and stops the constant spasms that cause the cough.
DOSAGE: 2 to 3 teaspoons a day.