Herbs and spices are often staple ingredients in your kitchen cupboard and widely used in daily cooking, but they have also been used for hundreds of years for medicinal purposes. Adding herbs and spices to your diet in a variety of ways could transform your health.
What is it? Sage is a savory herb that's used frequently in cooking, but many people are unaware of its medicinal benefits. It was used by our ancestors for relieving colds and sore throats. It's also believed to help with memory and have antibacterial properties.
How to use it: Sage is commonly used when cooking meats, sauces, and pasta. However, to add more of the herb to your diet, use in tea; simply add sage leaves to hot water and add lemon and honey to taste.
According to Authority Nutrition, sage reduces the breakdown of acetylcholine. Levels of this chemical are found to drop in Alzheimer's disease, suggesting a possible link between sage supporting memory and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
What is it? Lavender is an herb that is part of the mint family. It is commonly found in scents, including perfumes and home fragrance. It's known for its calming abilities.
How to use it: There are many ways you can use lavender for medicinal purposes. Lavender oils (which you can buy at your local vitamin store) can be used in an oil burner or in a bath. If you prefer, lavender salts can also be added to a bath. All methods should help you combat stress or insomnia.
The University of Maryland Medical Centre research suggests that lavender may slow activity of nervous system, which promotes relaxation and eases insomnia.
What is it? Turmeric is a spice that is part of the ginger family, commonly used in curries. It has a wealth of benefits, notably as an anti-inflammatory.
How to use it: Aside from using it in your next curry, it can also be made into a tea and other healthy recipes.
Turmeric contains the wonder ingredient curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties and can help soothe digestion. Like NSAIDs, curcumin acts as a pain reliever and is especially effective in muscle repair.
What is it? Rosemary is part of the mint family.
How to use it: Commonly used in cooking with lamb and in pastas, pizzas, and oils. Effective when consumed in a tea: add 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary needles to hot water, let rest, then strain and add honey and lemon to taste.
Research carried out by Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacoloy suggests that using rosemary oil correlates to cognitive performance and can effect mood.
What is it? Peppermint is a cross between watermint and spearmint and is commonly used as a flavoring for sweets, toothpaste, and chewing gum.
How to use it: Peppermint tea can either be store-bought or made fresh at home. It can also be used as an oil to help aid aches and pains.
The NHS reports that peppermint has proven to be effective for IBS relief and is sometimes more effective at easing symptoms than prescribed medications.
What is it? Ginger root is a herb this is commonly used to add flavoring to many Asian dishes.
How to use it: For nausea relief, serve ginger root in hot tea. If you don't like the spice, try adding ginger to green tea for a more subtle taste. If that isn't your cup of tea, add ginger to a variety of soups.
The academic journal article "Efficacy of Ginger For Nausea and Vomiting" found that after clinical trials, subjects favored ginger over the placebo and it proved to have a positive effect as an antivomiting herbal remedy.
What is it? Cinnamon is a widely used spice in baking. Cinnamon contains a substance called cinnamaldehyde, which, according to Authority Nutrition, has antibacterial properties.
How to use it: Aside from using it in baked goods, it can be added to hot drinks such as coffee or used in savory dishes like chili, tagine, or curry to add a bit of sweet spice. Cinnamon can also be effective when used as an essential oil.
What is it? Cayenne pepper is a spice commonly used in hot dishes.
How to use it: As well as using it to season and spice up savory dishes, as in curries, it can also be made into a nutritional tea with lemon.
Authority Nutrition states that cayenne pepper aids with weight loss, as it is said to reduce hunger; however, only in people who do not regularly eat spicy foods.
What is it? Mint is a very popular herb frequently used in cooking and drinks.
How to use it: Incorporating mint into your diet can be easy; simply add it to smoothies salads and to hot water with lemon to make a morning tea.
According to Medical News Today, mint plants are soothing and can be used in a tea to aid an upset stomach and indigestion.
What is it? Echinacea is a herb commonly used to aid cold or flu-like symptoms.
How to use it: Echinacea can be bought over the counter at a pharmacy or herb store. It can be taken as a tincture or tablets.
University of Maryland Medical Centre explains that although the effectiveness of echinacea remains controversial, a study did show that those with early signs of a common cold recovered faster when taking the herb than those who did not.
Please consult with your doctor or nutritionist before trying any of these herbs and spices that may affect any preexisting medical conditions.
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