Health Benefits of Spices and Herbs

Spices and especially herbs have long been used for medicinal purposes throughout the world. Moderate doses of many herbs can affect digestion, heart, brain functioning and more. We have compiled a list of herbs with a brief comment about the health effects of each one. Where there are links, we have compiled more in depth information on the health effects of that spice.

  • Allspice is thought to be efficacious in the case of stomach ailments, and as an aid to digestion.
  • Anise may relieve bloating and indigestion. It may also help to clear breathing passages when a person is suffering from congestion.
  • Basil exhibits anti-inflammatory properties. It is a source for Vitamin K, iron, calcium, vitamin A, manganese, magnesium, vitamin C, and potassium. Good for the heart and digestion.
  • Caraway is thought to help with bronchitis and also may have properties that help reduce bloating and cramping.
  • Cardamom is said to relieve stomach problems and heartburn.
  • Cayenne (red) pepper is sometimes used to stimulate the circulatory as well as digestive systems.
  • Chives health benefits include anti-inflammation, anti-carcinogenic , and antibiotic.
  • Cinnamon is known to be a strong antiseptic. It also has anti-microbial and anti-clotting properties.
  • Cloves are good for digestion and even can be used as a mosquito repellant.
  • Coriander is actually the seed of the cilantro plant. It is thought to be helpful in relieving headaches.
  • Dill can kill some intestinal bacteria and also helps to calm a nervous stomach.
  • Garlic has similar properties to onions in that it has antibiotic and anti-microbial properties. It is thought to help prevent heart disease and strokes.
  • Ginger helps digest high-fat foods and breaks down proteins, making it very good for the digestion. It is also thought to be good against arthritis.
  • Marjoram may help promote good digestion and relieve diarrhea. It may also work on the breathing passages by loosening mucus.
  • Nutmeg helps stimulate the brain, and also works as an anti-inflammatory. Use nutmeg in moderation as it is toxic in high doses.
  • Oregano has been found to be effective against the Giardia amoeba in Mexico.
  • Parsley may reduce cancer risk and be effective against atherosclerosis.
  • Peppermint has been used to treat morning sickness and motion sickness.
  • Saffron may be taken to ease fatigue. Some believe that it also strengthens the cardio-vascular and nervous systems.
  • Tarragon can stimulate the appetite. In some cases it has been known to relieve gas.
  • Thyme has an effect on cramps. Some anecdotal evidence suggests that it can also help to relieve sore throats.
  • Turmeric (a spice commonly used in curry) is thought to ameliorate the risk of gallstones. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.

The health benefits of any particular herb or spice may vary from person to person. They also can have short-term or long-term effects. Most spices are not consumed in large amounts so the average person will not notice their effect. Even so, moderation is a virtue, and large doses of any spice or herb to achieve a desired health benefit should not be embarked upon without consulting a physician.


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