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Healing Spices and Herbs


Adding herbs and spices into your meals can really elevate the flavor AND provide valuable health benefits. Using herbs and spices for healing is really nothing new as nearly every culture has recognized the healing and culinary benefits of herbs and spices for thousands of years.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Indian Ayurvedic systems have always used herbs and spices as their foundation of healing and still do. Humans have instinctively known that what Mother Nature provides aligns perfectly with what our bodies need to heal. Somehow, with the insurgence of chemical technologies influencing the Western approach to healing with a “pill for every ill” approach, we have lost that instinct to look to nature.

This page is here to remind you that your herb/spice rack can be a powerful healing tool AND be the missing link in your culinary adventures!

Spices

Curry Powder: Anti-inflammatory.

Garam Masala: Anti-inflammatory.

All Spice

Anti-microbial and a digestive aid. Using all spice is a wonderful addition to meals and has also been proven to be an effective healer for gas, bloating or digestive discomfort.

Aniseed

Anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and a digestive aid. Crushing the seed gently will help to release the volatile oils, which are healing to the digestive track. Anise is a phytoestrogen and can boost mildly boost female sex hormones, although most women and men have too much estrogen. Estrogen toxicity is now recognized as one of the root causes for endocrine, immune and hormone imbalance. Don’t let this stop you from using aniseed in your kitchen though; it’s a small seed that packs a powerful punch of flavor!

Black Mustard Seed

Digestive aid and anti-cancer fighting properties. This seed can be used for culinary and healing purposes. Black Mustard Seed has stimulating properties and for feverishness, colds or influenza. This powerful seed can be taken as a tea and or ground into meals.

Cardamom

Anti-inflammatory, digestive aid and aromatic. Cardamom is very effective in soothing the stomach where there is gas and/or bloating. Using cardamom in stews, soups, curries and even desserts helps bring depth to the dish. Did you know that cardamom seeds are mainly obtained from commercial plants in Sri Lanka or southern India where the crop is gathered between mid-fall and early winter?

Cayenne/Chili Flakes

Anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and digestive aid. It is a very useful systemic stimulate that helps to boost spice and heighten flavors in meals. Cayenne pairs very well with cacao!

Cinnamon

Anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, digestive aid and has been proven to lower blood sugar in the body. Cinnamon has been known to relieve nausea and vomiting and because of its mild astringency it is used for diarrhea. This is one of my go-to spices for smoothies, desserts, curries, and more! Cinnamon creates a warming feel in drinks and meals, which is essential for those who like to dive into raw foods during the colder months.

Chipotle

This is dried jalapeño and like cayenne it pairs well with cacao. I will use a dash of chipotle when making raw chocolate to heighten the flavors and help warm the palate.

Clove

Anti-microbial and a digestive aid. Clove can be used to aid in nausea, gas and vomiting. For use in the kitchen, remember that a little goes a long way!

Coriander (ground)

Antimicrobial and a digestive aid. Coriander has been used for cleansing purposes for centuries and helps to remove mercury and other heavy metals from the body. Using ground coriander is great for curries, soups, raw meals and more!

Cumin

Digestive aid and antimicrobial. This powerful spice has been used in Indian and Asian cooking for thousands of years for a good reason. It has potent anticancer components and is beneficial in relieving digestive problems like cramping, bloating and more. From a culinary perspective, I love pairing cumin with turmeric when I sauté vegetables or make an Indian curry.

Curry Powder

Anti-inflammatory. Curry is often a mix of many Indian spices like turmeric, coriander, mustard, cumin, fenugreek, paprika, cayenne, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. The health benefits are largely anti-inflammatory and the culinary benefits are limitless.

Garam Masala

Anti-inflammatory. This is another blend of spices that comes from India. Garam Masala consists of cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin and black pepper, but bay leaves and nutmeg are sometimes added. Believe it or not, using a dash of Garam Masala in smoothies works wonders!

Fennel

Digestive aid and anti-inflammatory. Fennel leaves and the seeds can be used in a variety of ways in meals and tinctures. You often see dried fennel seed near the door of every Indian restaurant, and it’s because it is a powerful digestive aid.

Lemongrass

Detoxifier and anti-cancer properties. Lemongrass is used in India and Southeast Asia a lot. One of the easiest ways to incorporate Lemongrass into your diet is through drinking a lemongrass herbal tea. Lemongrass tea is widely available and can be extremely beneficial as a detoxifying agent. Lemongrass pairs well with ginger! The University of Tokushima School of Medicine conducted a study that was published in the Oxford University Press about the effectiveness of lemongrass on cancer. They concluded that lemongrass contains citral, a substance which causes apoptosis that makes cancer cells want to kill each other.

Nutmeg

Digestive aid, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. Nutmeg is one of my favorites spices to use in desserts, smoothies and porridge. It pairs well with cinnamon and remember that a little bit goes a long way!

Pumpkin Pie Spice

A wonderful mix of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. I love using this in the Pumpkin Pie Goji Bites or in smoothies.

Sea Salt (Celtic or Himalayan)

Unlike white table salt, which has been refined and contains virtually no bio-available minerals, sea salt packs over 80 essential minerals your body usually doesn’t get. Remember that sea salt should have color to it, if its pink, grey or beige, it has not been refined and will be a beneficial spice to bring to your meals.

Turmeric

Anti-inflammatory. This is one of the most potent anti-inflammatory spices on the planet and a regular spice in Indian cooking. Turmeric increases bile flow, which is a huge protector in our intestinal track and is a awesome anti-viral agent. Drinking turmeric tea can be a great way to boost your immune system.

Herbs

Siberian Ginseng: Adaptigen.

Basil

Digestive aid, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. This is one of the herbs that I could literally eat by the bushel, and I’m not afraid to say that I have in the past! Adding basil into any meal or drink can elevate it from average to a culinary masterpiece because it’s that refreshing and aromatic. Basil is rich in antioxidants, which help protect our cells against free radicals and other misbehaving cells.

Cilantro/coriander

Antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and a powerful digestive aid. Using cilantro and coriander help with soothing an upset stomach and are incredibly high in antioxidants. Cilantro and coriander are also very cleansing so using them in juices/smoothies can be beneficial in ridding the body of stored toxins and heavy metals.

Dill

Digestive aid. This is another herb that carries a vibrant and powerful flavor punch. It’s known to be great in aiding digestion, especially gas and bloating. Chewing the seeds can also help clear up bad breath (halitosis).

Mint

Digestive aid, antimicrobial. I like to think of mint as the “little herb that packs a big punch!” The culinary benefits of using mint in your salad dressings, smoothies, elixirs and more are profound because of how refreshing it is. There are also amazing health benefits to mint as it is not only a digestive aid, but contains perillyl alcohol which has been shown to stall the growth of pancreatic tumors. Mint is also loaded with a vitamin so important to our health that some consider it a macronutrient: Vitamin C!

Nettle

This widely diverse plant has tremendous healing powers. Nettle can be used in pestos, smoothies or taken as a supplement. Using nettle can help with eczema and many other autoimmune diseases.

Oregano

Digestive aid, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. Oregano has antioxidants that provide protective benefits for the immune system. Using oregano in marinas is commonplace as it’s an Italian herb.

Parsley

Digestive aid and anti-inflammatory. Parsley has a large amount of Vitamin C, Iron, Manganese, Calcium and Potassium. Parsley is beneficial for kidney stones, rheumatism, settling the stomach and improving appetite. Parsley also contains a high amount of Vitamin A (for beauty) and E (for elasticity), which has multiple cosmetic effects and is used as a face tonic. I love using it during the spring for cleansing purposes in smoothies and in quinoa salads!

Thyme

Anti-microbial, digestive aid. Thyme oil is one of the strongest antiseptics and has been used for thousands of years to fight off infection. Specifically it has been used for a soothing a sore throat or as a gargle for laryngitis and tonsillitis. From a culinary standpoint, using the dried herb is a great addition to sauces, dressings and more.

Rosemary

Anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory. This powerful herb aids in warding off infections, improving digestion and improving immunity. Rosemary is very aromatic and can be used in a variety of ways. Personally, using rosemary with kale and sweet potato chips is my favorite use of this wonderful herb.

Sage

Anti-microbial, digestive aid. Sage is actually a member of the mint family and one that has been used to fight off infection and sickness.

Siberian Ginseng

Adaptigen. This powerful herb used for thousands of years to increase stamina and help as an adaptigen during times of stress. Incorporating Siberian Ginseng should be done under the guidance of a health care practitioner to understand dosage and when to bring it into the healing plan. It’s an herb I use a lot with clients and has shown to help with stress and adrenal fatigue.

My “go-to” healers

Aloe

This plant is known for its digestive health promoting properties and for topical application on burns, insect bites etc. Using a high quality aloe juice or the meat from the plant is very soothing to the lining of the gut, or the small intestine. Caution: using aloe should be done under the supervision of a health care practitioner and should be avoided during pregnancy. See my Apple Cider Digestive Elixir recipe to see how to use aloe in your drinks!

Garlic

Anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and a digestive aid. Using garlic in meals not only pleases the palate, but also provides an abundance of health promoting properties. Garlic has been used for centuries to aid in digestion, ward of microbial invasions and fight against respiratory infections. Using garlic oil topically has been proven to be incredibly helpful in warding off impending colds. Using garlic oil droplets in the ear helps to increase cervical lymphatic draining, get the lymphatic system moving again and ultimately provide a powerful immune response to an upcoming cold.

Lemon

Anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. This is one of the most powerful and easy healing foods to incorporate into your diet. Lemon citrus provides potent antioxidants and anticancer compounds. I usually start my day with ½ lemon squeezed into a tall glass of filtered water. Using lemon on a regular basis is also very cleansing for the liver.

Lime

Anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. Using lime is another easy way to jumpstart your health and adds a zesty punch to your drinks, dressings or salsa.

Onion

Anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and contains anticancer fighting components. The onion family is vast and all have incredible culinary and health benefits.

Ginger

Anti-inflammatory and a digestive aid. Helps relieve indigestion and abdominal cramping by soothing the gastrointestinal tract. Ginger stimulates circulation, reduces nausea, fights inflammation, and reduces blood platelet clumping which can help to reduce the risk of a heart attack. I use ginger in the vast majority of my dishes, and its great in smoothies/juices!

Glossary

Adaptigen: Herbs and or spices that help modulate hormones and enable the body to adapt well during times of stress.

Anti-inflammatory: There are a plethora of foods; herbs and spices that help the body combat inflammation. Inflammation at the cellular level is now known to be the root cause of most chronic disease and adding in more anti-inflammatory foods will drastically improve your health and immune system.

Anti-bacterial: Foods, herbs and spices that help to fight bacterial overload in the body.

Anti-microbial: Herbs and spices that help the body destroy or resist pathogenic microorganisms. The first effective anti-biotic drug, penicillin was discovered in a plant, a fungus. The best anti-microbial herbs used to fight infection are Echinacea, Garlic, Thyme, Wormwood and Myrrh.

Digestive aid: There are various herbs and spices that are considered carminatives, or great digestive aids. These herbs and spices are rich in volatile oils and help to stimulate peristalsis of the digestive system and relax the stomach. This ultimately supports digestion and helps reduce gas/bloating and cramping in the digestive system.