Herbs and Spices have a rich history with some spices having a greater wealth than precious metals. Spices, which have had wars fought over them, are revered by many cultures and mostly because of their medicinal value. (The Spice House Lore of Spices). The definition of a spice varies but for the most part spices are the dried aromatic seeds, bark, flowers and fruit of an edible plant. However depending who you ask and what region they live depends upon the definition you will receive.
Modern science is beginning to prove the health benefits of common herbs and spices, so much so that, you can not read a household magazine without an article showcasing a particular spice and its positive impact on our bodies. Here are a few of my top picks for spices that pack a power punch when it comes to our health.
- Black Pepper which comes from the vine piper nigrum stimulates our digestion and warms our bronchial passageways which can help with clearing congestion. I add black pepper to most of my meals to aid in digestion.
- Vanilla Bean is one of new favorite spices. Though this is not a cheap spice she has wonderful qualities in relieving stress, headaches and stomach upsets. My husband loves making his own vanilla extract out of fresh vanilla bean and I love soaking fresh vanilla in witch hazel to make my own stress relieving spray.
- Turmeric also call herbal gold is making quite a name for herself. Ayurvedic practitioners have been using turmeric for centuries as an anti inflammatory, free radical scavenger, digestive aid, blood detoxifier and is wonderful for the skin health. I love adding a tsp of turmeric to my hot almond milk with a pinch of raw cacao powder.
- Fennel seeds has saved me on many occasion when my stomach was feel sour. Fennel seeds support our digestive tracks acting a carminative, which means they ease flatulence and indigestion. Fennel is known as an anti-inflammatory, eases sore throats and used to freshen one’s breath. I am know to make a fennel tea for my children to ease their upset stomachs. Fennel has also been used to clear congestion and strengthen ones bronchial passageways.
If you notice, many of these spices have very similar medicinal values, that is because most spices are considered warming to our bodies. Warming spices support our digestion, skin, and are generally anti-inflammatory, so you will find lots of overlapping. This great new, because you can incorporate many flavors and still get the health benefits you are looking for.
I have found the easiest and safest way to incorporate herbs and spices into our lives is in our food. Finding creative ways to add these four spices into your diet could have the positive health effects you have been looking for. Of course check with your primary care doctor before changing any parts of your diet.
Want to learn more about culinary herbalism, join me for my next herbal class Kitchen Spices for Health.