Alternative HealingDiet & Nutrition

The Hidden Power of Herbs and Spices: 10 Options to Take Your Health to the Next Level

Herbs and spices have long been essential parts of our kitchens. They can transform your meals, turning a simple dish into a marvel by adding a range of flavours and colours (and without adding sugar, fat, or harmful chemicals). However, this is not the only benefit of using spices and medicinal herbs when preparing our meals and beverages: many of them provide incredible health benefits with just a bit of powder!   

For thousands of years, people have been using medicinal plants to boost health and cure illnesses. Today, we know that they can not only make our skin look beautiful or help us sleep better, but they can also prevent disease and reduce inflammation. Plus, they smell and taste pretty dang good! So, spice up your routine, have tastier foods and beverages, and improve your health without spending too much time or money with the hidden power of herbs and spices.

#1 - What is Herbal Medicine?

Herbal medicine uses plants, herbs, and spices to treat disease and help us feel better. This type of medicine has been used for thousands of years, having its origins in ancient cultures such as the Chinese, who used powerful active ingredients contained in certain medicinal herbs and plants to cure illnesses. Now, you may be aware of the fact that many of the pills we take today are manufactured out of plants. So, what’s the difference between taking traditional medicines rather than the herb as tea?

Medicinal herbs and spices

Let’s analyse an example. Meadowsweet is a plant that contains salicylic acid (the active principle used to make aspirins). The problem is that aspirins can irritate your stomach lining, even causing bleeding, while the plant as a whole contains other compounds that naturally prevent this irritation. It’s easy to see, then, how many times it can be beneficial to choose herbal medicine over traditional one. 

But just because they are easily accessible or natural does not mean healing herbs and spices are always safe for anyone to take. For example, Ginkgo seems to have blood-thinning properties, so it should not be taken with aspirins or ibuprofen, among other drugs (1). You should always use herbal medicine with the same care you would show conventional medicines and consult with your doctor before starting treatment.

#2 - What Are Healing Herbs and Spices?

At school, all of us learn how good fruits and vegetables are for our health and that we should consume them every day. But what about herbs and spices? We use them to cook and give food spectacular taste (can you imagine having paella without saffron?), but healing herbs and spices like basil, turmeric, and even good old pepper have more to offer than just being tasty. 

Spices are at the top of the list when considering antioxidants. Just one teaspoon of cinnamon can offer you more antioxidants than a full cup of berries. Something similar happens with medicinal herbs: they offer innumerable opportunities to treat disease. In fact, many modern drugs are manufactured from plant extracts, such as morphine, which comes from the opium poppy. 

#3 - How Can Medicinal Herbs Help?

Manufactured pills are not the only approach to healing. They have certainly become of paramount importance in our lives, but you should not forget that you have countless natural options, too. In case of illness or discomfort, we can turn to medicinal herbs and plants that have been with us for thousands of years and can help us boost our physical and mental health. Incorporating medicinal herbs into your routine is very easy! Most of them are relatively at hand and you can buy them at most grocery stores without emptying your account. 

Fresh herbs

Furthermore, healing plants typically offer harmless ways to help you feel better. You just need to watch out for potential interactions with medication you’re already taking and other safety issues. Always discuss it with your doctor before starting therapy with medicinal herbs. 

#4 - Top 10 Herbs & Spices With Powerful Healing Benefits

The power of nature is on our side! Lime, basil, mint, garlic, chamomile, turmeric… all of these medicinal plants have enormous benefits to offer that go from reducing cell damage and inflammation to helping you fight allergies and congestion. A simple Valerian root tea can help you stay asleep and rest better while having more black pepper can reduce your inflammation. Here we present you with the top 10 herbs and spices with powerful healing benefits you should definitely include in your daily routine!

  • Chamomile May Help Reduce Anxiety and Stress

There isn’t much information on how chamomile acts exactly in our bodies, but chamomile has been reported to help you reduce your anxiety and relax after a stressful day (2). Chamomile may not be as quick as pharmaceutical drugs, but it’s certainly a much more natural remedy for anxiety (and with fewer side effects!). And the good news is that this medicinal plant is safe for most people, with very few contraindications. Just watch out for chamomile if you have problems with coagulation or are about to have surgery. 

Chamomile
  • Ashwagandha Can Help Regulate Hormones

Ashwagandha has become very popular these days with the rise of Ayurvedic medicine, and with good reason. This herb is a powerful remedy for poor sleep and low energy, known to support your adrenals and thyroid glands (3). As a result, ashwagandha can help your body regulate certain hormones, such as cortisol, and make you feel energized and healthy every day.

  • Turmeric May Help Protect Against Heart Disease

Turmeric is a golden spice that has been used for centuries to treat a wide variety of health issues, such as inflammation and joint pain. But where it truly shines is in the effect it has on your heart. The active component of this spice, curcumin, can help patients who suffer from heart disease and failure (4) because it makes your heart’s blood vessels more flexible, improving blood flow to this vital organ (and the rest of your body, too). The best part is that it’s also delicious and you can enjoy it in sauces, grain dishes, and even smoothies. 

Turmeric
  • Matcha Is Rich in Antioxidants

You may have heard of the great benefits of matcha already, but did you know it’s also rich in antioxidants that prevent aging and chronic disease? These antioxidants are called catechins and reduce cell damage caused by free radicals (5). The most efficient way to make matcha is in powder. When you add matcha powder to hot water to prepare tea, it contains all the nutrients of an entire leaf. Include matcha into your routine and soon you’ll notice a difference in your wellbeing.  

  • Valerian Root Can Benefit the Quality of Your Sleep

Do you find yourself tossing and turning every night, unable to sleep and relax? A delicious beverage made with Valerian root can be the solution you need. Many studies show that this healing plant is an effective sleeping aid, reducing the time you spend trying to fall asleep. Valerian root can also improve the quality of your sleep, too, so you don’t wake up at night feeling you haven’t rested at all (6). You can take valerian root as a tea or in the form of health supplements. Just be careful with side effects, such as an upset stomach or drowsiness!

  • Maca May Help Relieve Symptoms of Menopause

The Maca plant is originally from Peru but has become popular all over the world because of the health benefits it offers. In addition to being highly nutritious (containing numerous vitamins and minerals like iron, copper, and potassium), Maca has been proven to improve certain unpleasant symptoms of menopause that take place due to the lack of estrogen that characterises this period of life. Some examples include hot flashes, poor sleep quality, and depression symptoms (7). Also, other studies suggest that maca may protect bone health, which is important because women are at a higher risk of suffering from osteoporosis during menopause.

  • Black Pepper Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties

In addition to being the best spice for your salads and meat, black pepper has great health benefits. Containing many antioxidant and anti-tumour properties (8), consuming black pepper can also help with inflammation, cellular damage, and disease. Plus, this spice increases the absorption of other nutrients like calcium and promotes gut health in general. Don’t forget to add a little black pepper to your dishes: your health will thank you for it!

  • Rosemary Can Help Prevent Allergies and Nasal Congestion

Rosemary, often known as a family member of mint, is a versatile medicinal help that can do wonders for your cold symptoms and allergies. It contains rosemarinic acid, a chemical that can suppress the inflammatory response of allergic antibodies and white cells (9). In other words, it can help your nasal congestion go away sooner. So, next time you have a surge of your seasonal allergy, instead of raiding your pharmacy’s aisle, you should look into your kitchen cabinet! Maybe you’ll find some Rosemary or other medicinal plants to do away with your congestion in a natural way.

Fresh Rosemary
  • Garlic Can Combat Parasites

Garlic contains allicin, a chemical that is believed to contain all the benefits of this medicinal plant- it’s also the component that gives you that strong dragon breath when you eat it raw. Many recent studies show that consuming garlic has an effect in reducing the egg production of certain worm species that can live in our intestines, thus helping you get rid of those annoying parasites sooner (10). 

  • Ginger Can Treat Nausea and Indigestion

Ginger has been used for centuries in Chinese and Thai medicine, and for very good reason. In addition to being a powerful stimulant, ginger can help you combat nausea, indigestion, and vomiting (11). So, if you frequently suffer from these digestive problems and would like to get some natural relief, ginger is your best ally, be it in tea or supplement form. 

Spice Up Your Diet and Your Health 

Shove scepticism out the back door: herbal medicine is here to stay! Why not have a go and try medicinal plants to take your wellbeing to the next level? By introducing some of these amazing herbs and spices into your diet, you can improve your health and boost the taste of your food and beverages at the same time. Countless medicinal plants, like garlic, black pepper, or chamomile can help treat different conditions, from poor sleep quality to nasal congestion. Many times, they are more accessible (and affordable) than traditional medicine and bring about fewer side effects, all the while nourishing your body from the inside out. 

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