Can the Contents of Your Spice Cabinet Improve Your Health?
As a health coach, my focus is on natural remedies, nutrition, supplements and essential oils to heal the body and prevent further illness.
Included in the category of “nutrition” are spices. Many people overlook the healing power of spices. Thousands of years ago, spices were considered potent medicine and today we need to remember their strength when we’re cooking.
Rich in phytochemicals, many herbs and spices serve as anti-inflammatory superfoods. And it’s important to know that inflammation in the body can promote the growth and spread of cancer cells.
So stock your spice cabinet with the following spices and it’ll double as an all-natural medicine cabinet.
Researchers from the University of Michigan have shown that holy basil has better anti-inflammatory activity compared to aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Basil is high in vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin C as well as the minerals iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium and potassium. Basil is also anti-bacterial and cancer-fighting. In addition, traditional basil contains a compound called eugenol, which eases muscle spasms and can help relieve gas and soothe a turbulent tummy.
What doesn’t this spice do? The Cancer Treatment Centers of America identifies cayenne as a food that has cancer-fighting properties. Capsaicin is the main ingredient and source of cayenne’s bite. “Studies have shown that cayenne pepper, or more specifically capsaicin, can slow the growth of prostate cancer cells, and may also have the ability to destroy them, according to a study done at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine”.
Cayenne is also thought to be an anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant, and even anti-diabetic.
Perhaps best known for its ability to significantly lower blood sugar with as little as 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon a day, cinnamon is beneficial for diabetics. “Two of the main ingredients of cinnamon, cinnamaldehyde and procyanidins, have been previously shown to have health-beneficial activities, such as antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic activity. Moreover, an extract from cinnamon (CE) was recently shown to have antitumor and anti-angiogenesis activity as well.” (source)
According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, “turmeric demonstrated anti-inflammatory and anticancer activities in lab studies. A few studies suggest that curcumin has biological activity in some cancer patients but more data are needed to verify its benefits.” A powerful anti-inflammatory, turmeric’s effects have been compared to that of topical hydrocortisone. Recent studies show Turmeric can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Known most for its ability to help with nausea and motion sickness, ginger increases digestive fluids and absorbs and neutralizes toxins and stomach acid. In addition, ginger helps ease inflammation in the body, with positive effects on arthritis and migraines. As an anti-inflammatory, it may also play a role in preventing and slowing the growth of cancer. Read more about my love for ginger here.
Its leaves have been used for hundreds of years to soothe digestive problems, which is why peppermint tea is such a common after-dinner drink. Also the phytochemical in mint leaves has been found to cut off the blood supply to cancer tumors. This blocks any nutrients or oxygen reaching the tumor, resulting in death of cancer cells.
Recent studies show it has positive effects on IBS and flatulence, and because it also relaxes the esophagus, it allows for relief of gas through belching. The same property that relaxes the airways, menthol, is responsible for fighting bacteria and viruses.
The popular Italian spice is antimicrobial, high in antioxidants, and has been shown to be a powerful parasite fighter as well as a cancer inhibitor. The active ingredient in oregano is carvacrol, which is a natural disinfectant that stifles the spread of cancer cells. According to the Global Healing Center, cervacrol “when tested against breast cancer cells, it expedited cancer cell death… while being non-toxic. Long Island University researchers reported similar results when putting it up against prostate cancer cells. Actually, carvacrol exhibits the same results regardless of the cancer. Lung cancer cells, oral cancer cells, and malignant brain tumors… all have been on the losing end when pitted against carvacrol.”
An unsung hero, sage is well known for its place in the culinary world, but it deserves recognition as a potent healer. A Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine study noted a compound isolated from sage extract “showed a high antioxidant activity and is a very significant scavenger of free radicals.” This helps fight off cancer growth and spread. Sage extract was found to inhibit angiogenesis, the development of new blood vessels in tumors. Sage tea also prevented colon cancer in tests.
Sage also enhances memory, can soothe an upset stomach, and reduce night sweats. Studies have shown antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and astringent properties.
Add couple of shakes of any of these spices to your food to improve your health. I add turmeric and basil to my omelette and cinnamon to my coffee…yum!
Essential Oils from Spices
Did you know that essential oils from many of these spices are actually 50-70 times more powerful than the spice itself? It’s true and these oils should be part of your routine as well. Here are some essential oils you can cook with to boost your health and immunity, naturally:
- 2 pounds Roma tomatoes, halved
- 1 onion, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
- 1 drop Basil oil
- 1 toothpick Oregano oil
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Place sliced tomatoes, onions, and garlic on baking sheet.
- Add a generous amount of sea salt, pepper, and olive oil to top of tomatoes and onion.
- Cook for one to two hours or until tomatoes and onions begin to darken around the edges.
- Remove from oven and transfer to food processor or blender.
- Pulse until sauce reaches your desired consistency.
- Add Basil and Oregano oil and stir.
- 1 medium-sized sweet potato, baked, skin removed (about 1 cup in volume)
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup Coconut Oil
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 drops Peppermint oil
- 3/4 cup light spelt flour (or gluten-free flour)
- 2/3 cup raw cacao powder
- 1/2 tsp real salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9×13 baking pan with olive oil spray.
- Place the cooked sweet potato flesh, eggs, coconut oil, honey, vanilla extract and peppermint essential oil in the base of a food processor.
- Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the spelt flour, cacao powder, salt, and baking powder.
- Add to the food processor and process just until combined, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Be careful to not over-bake these, they are best removed when just set.
- Remove the brownies and let cool completely.
Next time you have a recipe that calls for a spice, consider grabbing a bottle of CPTG essential oils instead. One of my favorite tips is to add a drop of Ginger EO to my smoothie for additional antioxidant protection.
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.