Please forgive me while I very quickly get this out of the way…
Every boy, every girl: spice up your life! People of the world: spice up your life! Ahhhhhhh SLAM IT TO THE LEFT if you’re having a good time!
OK OK, I’ll stop. Though this 1997 anthem continues to be one of my favorite songs to this very day. So darn catchy.
But in all seriousness: spice up your life, people (of the world)!
(That’s the last Spice Girls reference, I promise.)
Spices have amazing health benefits, and have been used medicinally for ages. Because way back when, people didn’t have antibiotics and multivitamins — they had turmeric, cayenne, and cinnamon.
Spices continue to be an integral part of any farmacy. They are a simple and tasty way to support your health on a daily basis, and keep you away from the pharmacy.
NOTE: Not all spices are created equally. The spices I link to below are organic and non-irradiated (I also highly suggest Mountain Rose Herbs for bulk spices). Unless spices are labeled as non-irradiated, they have undergone a process of ionized radiation in order to increase shelf life and kill any possible bacteria. While this may seem like a good thing, this destroys many of the valuable, medicinal properties of the spice. More troubling, according to the Organic Consumers Association, irradiation creates free radicals (those nasty little buggers that damage cell DNA and promote cancer). These free radicals interact with any chemicals (like pesticides) on the spices to form new chemicals, called unique radiolytic products (URPs). Some of these URPs are bad news: benzene, formaldehyde, lipid peroxides.
7 supercharged spices for your health:
Turmeric is referred to as the “Queen of Spices,” which is why it is coming first on this list. It has a wide range of antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. It can also help neutralize free radicals. It is jam-packed with niacin, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Turmeric’s potent anti-inflammatory properties are especially great for arthritis sufferers. Turmeric also contains a substance known as lipopolysaccharide, which helps stimulate the body’s immune system.
Cinnamon is another wonder spice. The antioxidant compounds in cinnamon help balance blood sugar levels by improving the way your cells metabolize glucose. A study conducted by the Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, MD found that eating half a teaspoon of cinnamon daily can reduce the risk factors for diabetes and heart disease within six weeks.
This spice also has strong antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. For this reason, it is one of my go-tos to help cure a cold naturally and quickly. It also helps gently eliminate acne-causing bacteria when applied to the skin (check out this DIY clarifying honey and spice face mask!).
In addition, cinnamon is a great source of manganese, which activates the enzymes necessary to build healthy bones and assists with fat metabolism. Penn State researchers found that cinnamon can help reduce the body’s negative responses to consuming fatty foods, which they believe is a result of the manganese content.
Ginger is great for pain management: gingerol, a chemical in ginger, is thought to reduce inflammation and block nerve pathways that process pain. A study showed that people who consumed one teaspoon of ground ginger daily for 11 days experienced a 25% reduction in exercise-related muscle pain compared with those taking a placebo.
Ginger also helps sooth an upset stomach, reduce gas, and calm nausea.
But the thing I like most about ginger is that it’s a helper: it improves the absorption and bioavailability of nutrients in the body.
Cayenne pepper is a very powerful spice that has been used for its health benefits throughout history. According to Dr. Patrick Quillin, author of The Healing Power of Cayenne Pepper,
Cayenne pepper – prized for thousands of years for its healing power. Folklore from around the world recounts amazing results using cayenne pepper in simple healing and in baffling health problems. But cayenne pepper is not just a healer from ancient history. Recent clinical studies have been conducted on many of the old-time health applications for this miracle herb. Again and again, the therapeutic value of cayenne pepper has been medically validated.
Capsaicin, the compound that gives cayenne pepper its insane spice also boosts your body temperature, firing up your metabolism and helping you burn extra calories and fat. This also increases the flow of enzyme production and gastric juices, helping the body’s ability to metabolize food (and toxins).
Cayenne pepper also helps to keep blood pressure levels stable, is a wonderful antibacterial, and has strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Black pepper sure isn’t the fanciest spice of the group — it can be found in most kitchens and probably isn’t given a second thought beyond jazzing up your scrambled eggs. But black pepper is another supercharged spice.
Black pepper is a natural antibiotic and a great source of potassium, iron, and vitamins C and K. Historically, it has been used in herbal medicine for stomach issues, anemia, and heart disease. Black pepper improves overall digestion by reducing gas, diarrhea, and constipation. Black pepper is also a natural anti-inflammatory and, like ginger, increases the absorption of nutrients.
Black pepper has also been shown to help prevent cancer. A study carried out by the University of Michigan Cancer Center found that black pepper prevented the development of breast cancer tumors, and that the piperine content of black pepper can play a key role in preventing other cancers.
Oregano is extremely high in bone-building vitamin K and also has the same amount of antioxidants as three cups of spinach.
It is also a powerful natural antibiotic. In fact, research has shown that oregano essential oil applied topically can kill the foodborne pathogen Listeria4 and the superbug MRSA. When consumed, oregano acts as a mild natural antibiotic and helps the body fight infections.
Cumin is another strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It is also a good source of iron, manganese, and other vitamins and minerals. It can also stimulate the production of pancreatic enzymes and assist digestion.
One tablespoon of cumin fulfills 22% of your RDA for iron, a mineral that helps keep your energy level high and your immune system in flu-fighting shape.