Spices A – K



Allspice has been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer in studies. It is also antimicrobial meaning it has the ability to kill of some viruses and bacteria that may get you sick such as Salmonella, Listeria, Mycotoxigenic Aspergillus, which is a type of toxic fungi from the soil, and Shigella sonnei and flexneri, which are relatives of e-coli and cause shigellosis.

Allspice is also good at lowering your blood triglyceride (fat) and blood sugar levels so it’s great for those who have diabetes or are overweight or obese. The studies done so far have not been done on humans however but they have been showing promising results in animals.

Allspice is perfect for meats because it helps kill the bacteria that can cause food borne illnesses. It’s also great to use in soups and for keeping your gut healthy because it reduces gas/bloating. Eat about 1 teaspoon per day to get the full health benefits of Allspice.

  1. Lee Y, Hong S, Jun W, et al. Anti-histone acetyltransferase activity from allspice extracts inhibits androgen receptor-dependent prostate cancer cell growth. Bioscience, Biotechnology, And Biochemistry [serial online]. November 2007;71(11):2712-2719.
  2. Shyamala M, Paramundayil J, Venukumar M, Latha M. Probing the anti-hyperlipidemic efficacy of the allspice (Pimenta officinalis Lindl.) in rats fed with high fat diet. Indian Journal Of Physiology And Pharmacology [serial online]. July 2005;49(3):363-368.
  3. Roy J. Lai PK. Antimicrobial and chemopreventive properties of herbs and spices. Current Medicinal Chemistry, 2004, 11;(11) 1451-1460
  4. The Dr. Oz Show




Anise/Aniseed (Pimpinella anisum)

Anise is much like Fennel because it contains many of the same compounds and antioxidants that fight diseases and cancer. It has a mild estrogen-like effect on the body, meaning that the body may react to the specific compound as if it was estrogen. Anise is already an ingredient in cough medicines and toothpastes because of its antiviral and immune stimulating ability. It is good for both your stomach and colon and has shown some signs of relieving constipation in animal studies.  It is good for stopping hiccups when mixed with a little warm water. It can also stop cramps, spasms and coughs associated with bronchitis, especially when the cough is whooping cough. Anise, particularly Anise oil, has also been used as a medicine for indigestion, lice and stress.  The stress fighting ability of Anise can also help prevent wrinkles.

Anise, as a tea or tincture, can help increase breast milk production and help increase one’s libido.

In ancient Persia (Iran) Anise was used to treat and prevent seizures and epilepsy.

Try a pinch of Anise 2-3 times per week. Be aware that Anise may increase bleeding so limit your intake if you’re taking blood-thinning medications like Aspirin.  A general safe amount for children to have is 1-3 cups of cool and sweetened tea with 2 teaspoons of seeds.

  1. Karimzadeh F, Hosseini M, Gorji A, et al. Anticonvulsant and neuroprotective effects of Pimpinella anisum in rat brain. BMC Complementary And Alternative Medicine [serial online]. June 18, 2012;12:76.
  2. Lee J, Yamagishi C, Hayashi K, Hayashi T. Antiviral and immunostimulating effects of lignin-carbohydrate-protein complexes from Pimpinella anisum. Bioscience, Biotechnology, And Biochemistry [serial online]. 2011;75(3):459-465.
  3. http://www.sharecare.com/question/what-is-anise-used-for-in-herbal-medicine
  4. http://www.sharecare.com/question/health-benefits-of-anise
  5. http://www.sharecare.com/question/if-child-anise-how-much



madlyinlovewithlife / Flickr

Basil ★

Basil is an anti-inflammatory, insecticide and antibacterial spice/herb that also helps fight fat. It can be bought separately or as part of a spice blend like Italian Spice. The antioxidants in Basil help protect your skin from sun damage and protect your body from cancer and osteoporosis. Eat about 1 teaspoon per day. For more information a super species of Basil, check out Holy Basil.



739px-Bay leaf Laurier-spice Henna commons

Bay Leaf

Bay leaf is excellent at calming down your stomach and gastrointestinal tract. It can help with digestive disorders, indigestion gas, bloating and it has even been shown to help stop diarrhea in rats. It can help calm headaches and it’s a good anti bacterial spice.

Bay leaf can also help your body produce insulin better, which means lower blood sugar levels.

It’s also a good insect repellant against moths, flies, mosquitoes and roaches.

Oil of Bay (Bay leaf oil) can be used for bruises or sprains.

  1. Chaudhry N, Tariq P. Bactericidal activity of black pepper, bay leaf, aniseed and coriander against oral isolates. Pakistan Journal Of Pharmaceutical Sciences [serial online]. July 2006;19(3):214-218.
  2. http://www.sharecare.com/question/how-are-bay-leaves-used-in-herbal-medicine
  3. Qnais E, Abdulla F, Kaddumi E, Abdalla S. Antidiarrheal activity of Laurus nobilis L. leaf extract in rats. Journal Of Medicinal Food [serial online]. January 2012;15(1):51-57.




Black Pepper/Peppercorn

Black pepper is a strong antibacterial and antiviral but an even stronger fighter of cancer. There is emerging evidence that shows that piperine, which is a powerful antioxidant in black pepper, may help reverse the resistance of some types of cancer to anti cancer drugs. The study used breast and lung cancer cells. Another study found that black pepper may also help fight off colon cancer.

Amazingly, piperine can help you absorb the good stuff from other spices. For example, it can make it easier for your body to absorb the yellow color (Curcumin) in Turmeric, which is a very very powerful antioxidant and cancer fighter.

In one study, piperine in mice helped increase their memory and slow down the effects of Alzheimer’s in the brain.

Black pepper can also help with digestion and can clear out allergens from your nasal cavity. The outer layer of Peppercorn has a compound that helps break down fat cells.

  1. Chaudhry N, Tariq P. Bactericidal activity of black pepper, bay leaf, aniseed and coriander against oral isolates. Pakistan Journal Of Pharmaceutical Sciences [serial online]. July 2006;19(3):214-218.
  2. Li S, Lei Y, Jia Y, Li N, Wink M, Ma Y. Piperine, a piperidine alkaloid from Piper nigrum re-sensitizes P-gp, MRP1 and BCRP dependent multidrug resistant cancer cells. Phytomedicine: International Journal Of Phytotherapy And Phytopharmacology [serial online]. December 15, 2011;19(1):83-87.
  3. The Dr. Oz Show
  4. The Dr. Oz Show




Chicory root ★

Chicory is a vegetable. The root has its own health benefits apart from the leafy greens. Chicory has many traditional uses, some of which are still used today. Ground up and roasted Chicory root is used as a substitute or filler for coffee. mixing the ashes of the root with butter  and placing it on cutscan help heal wounds. An extract of the root has been used to fight malaria in Afghanistan, treat warts in Iran and fight liver and digestive diseases in Eastern Europe and used as a laxative in other countries. The shoots have also been used as a treatment for urinary tract infections.

Extracts made from the whole plant may help with diabetes. What studies are noticing is that the parts of the plant that are above ground tend to have more antimicrobial properties, the roots and shoots tend to have anti inflammatory, anti ulcer and anti malaria compounds in them.

One study done on Chicory root shows that Chicory extracts may work with some medications to fight off diseases like staph infection and E-coli. More research needs to be done here however.

  1. Süntar I, Küpeli Akkol E, Keles H, Yesilada E, Sarker S, Baykal T. Comparative evaluation of traditional prescriptions from Cichorium intybus L. for wound healing: stepwise isolation of an active component by in vivo bioassay and its mode of activity. Journal Of Ethnopharmacology [serial online]. August 30, 2012;143(1):299-309.
  2. Stefanović O, Stanojević D, Comić L. Synergistic antibacterial activity of Salvia officinalis and Cichorium intybus extracts and antibiotics. Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica [serial online]. May 2012;69(3):457-463.




Cardamom ★

Cardamom is a wonderful smelling seed and spice that’s a close cousin to both Ginger and Turmeric. This seed is what gives Chai tea its distinct taste and smell. You can add it to your tea or when you make coffee as well. It even works very well with warm milk. It’s used extensively in Indian cuisine and makes a great ingredient in baked goods to boost the flavor. Cardamom is a pungent herb yet has a sweet and spicy taste to it with a hint of vanilla. It can help boost your mood by helping to fight off depression and give you a natural energy boost without the use of caffeine. It may also help soothe symptoms of asthma and bronchitis. Cardamom works great for digestion and it helps get rid of bad breath when you chew on it after eating.


1. Pant, Rashmi. “Different Phases of Women’s Depression and its Treatment:-A Broad Overview.” Quest-The Journal of UGC-ASC Nainital 6.3 (2012): 527-536.

2. Sandhu, Davinder S., and Michael Heinrich. “The use of health foods, spices and other botanicals in the Sikh community in London.” Phytotherapy Research 19.7 (2005): 633-642.

3. Fotedar, S., and V. Fotedar. “Cardamom and oral health.” European Journal of General Dentistry 3.1 (2014): 86.





Cinnamon ★★

There are many species of Cinnamon that are used around the world. The ones we are most familiar with come from China (Cassia cinnamon).

Cinnamon bark may help prevent and treat diabetes. The studies done on cinnamon have shown that it helps to reduce your blood sugar levels but there has not been any evidence that it lowers your A1C levels, which is a better indicator of your diabetes status than blood sugar alone. Right now there is no consensus on whether cinnamon can help reverse insulin resistance, which is linked with diabetes.

Cinnamon, particularly the Cassia species, contains high levels of coumarin, which is a compound in cinnamon that acts as a blood thinner. Powdered cinnamon contains much more coumarin per gram than cinnamon sticks so be especially careful when consuming the powered form because you are consuming more cinnamon than you think and the high levels of coumarin may enhance any blood thinning medication (like Aspirin or Plavix) that you may be taking.

Cinnamon is excellent at fighting off cancer, particularly cervical cancer. It’s also an effective digestive aid like Sage and Ginger, and it can help with nausea and vomiting.

Cinnamon can also prevent your body from overproducing nitric oxide, which happens when you are sick or when a tumor may be trying to develop in your body.

This spice also has a number of cosmetic uses that may be good for your health. Here are a few uses of Cinnamon from the The Dr. Oz Show.


Spice Up Your Skin

As your skin ages, not only do wrinkles appear but the fresh dewy look of youth is replaced with dullness and even dry patches.

When combined, the spices cinnamon and nutmeg can soften fine lines and make your skin glow. Nutmeg actually lightens age spots by turning off melanocytes (pigment cells), while cinnamon helps plump skin, filling in fine lines and minor wrinkles.


Nutmeg & Cinnamon Face & Body Wash

To make this inexpensive, skin-rejuvenating wash, take 6 teaspoons each of ground cinnamon and nutmeg and run through your coffee machine’s filter. Pour the mixture directly into a warm bath and soak in it. Or allow the mixture to cool and use as a face or body wash that you can leave on and let penetrate your skin for up to 10 minutes a day.


Relieve Stiffness Due to Arthritis: Cinnamon

As we age, many of us may experience muscle and joint pain due to arthritis. Cinnamon contains anti-inflammatory compounds that can help relieve that pain. Furthermore, cinnamon’s antibiotic properties help prevent urinary tract infections, tooth decay and gum disease, and have been shown to kill the harmful bacteria, E.coli. 1 tsp per day or a 1-inch long cinnamon stick in tea or ground in food.

  1. Kirkham S, Akilen R, Sharma S, Tsiami A. The potential of cinnamon to reduce blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism [serial online]. December 2009;11(12):1100-1113.
  2. Peng X, Ma J, Chao J, et al. Beneficial effects of cinnamon proanthocyanidins on the formation of specific advanced glycation endproducts and methylglyoxal-induced impairment on glucose consumption. Journal Of Agricultural And Food Chemistry [serial online]. June 9, 2010;58(11):6692-6696.
  3. Vanschoonbeek K, Thomassen B, Senden J, Wodzig W, van Loon L. Cinnamon supplementation does not improve glycemic control in postmenopausal type 2 diabetes patients. The Journal Of Nutrition [serial online]. April 2006;136(4):977-980.
  4. Jitomir J, Willoughby D. Cassia cinnamon for the attenuation of glucose intolerance and insulin resistance resulting from sleep loss. Journal Of Medicinal Food [serial online]. June 2009;12(3):467-472.
  5. Koppikar S, Choudhari A, Suryavanshi S, Kumari S, Chattopadhyay S, Kaul-Ghanekar R. Aqueous cinnamon extract (ACE-c) from the bark of Cinnamomum cassia causes apoptosis in human cervical cancer cell line (SiHa) through loss of mitochondrial membrane potential. BMC Cancer [serial online]. 2010;10:210.
  6. Tsai P, Tsai T, Yu C, Ho S. Evaluation of NO-suppressing activity of several Mediterranean culinary spices. Food And Chemical Toxicology: An International Journal Published For The British Industrial Biological Research Association [serial online]. March 2007;45(3):440-447.
  7. The Dr. Oz Show





Cloves may help fight cancer by causing cancer cells to kill themselves. One study showed that Cloves were very effective at destroying prostate, breast, HeLa cervical cancer cells and esophageal cancer cells. It can help kill some microbes like E coli. It can also kill microbes, fungi or bacteria in your gut that may make you sick.

Of many spices tested, cloves had the highest ORAC score (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity). This means that Cloves have the highest amount of antioxidants vs. most other spices. The key compound in Cloves is eugenol. This is what produces the numbing effect on your tongue when you chew on one. It can be used for toothaches, sore throats and gum pain. They can also help with asthma symptoms and the effects of bronchitis.

Cloves are probably one of the most versatile of the spices because it can be used in all types of foods as flavoring or as a regular ingredient. Eat about 1 teaspoon per day. One of the best ways to do this is to drop a few cloves in your tea or when you are boiling the water. You can also add a piece of a stick of Cinnamon to get even more health benefits and it smells great too.

Bonus: Cloves act as adaptogens in our body. Adaptogens like cloves can help make our bodies more resistant to stress. Read more about adaptogens here.

  1. Banerjee S, Panda C, Das S. Clove (Syzygium aromaticum L.), a potential chemopreventive agent for lung cancer. Carcinogenesis [serial online]. August 2006;27(8):1645-1654.
  2. Dwivedi V, Shrivastava R, Hussain S, Ganguly C, Bharadwaj M. Comparative anticancer potential of clove (Syzygium aromaticum)–an Indian spice–against cancer cell lines of various anatomical origin. Asian Pacific Journal Of Cancer Prevention: APJCP [serial online]. 2011;12(8):1989-1993.
  3. Roy J. Lai PK. Antimicrobial and chemopreventive properties of herbs and spices. Current Medicinal Chemistry, 2004, 11;(11) 1451-1460.
  4. The Dr. Oz Show



Bierfaß commons Coriander

Coriander Seed ★

Coriander seeds may possibly help the pancreas produce more insulin according to a study done on rats. This may be good news for people who suffer with or are at risk for type 2 diabetes. Traditionally it has been a remedy to help treat diabetes in parts of Europe. Studies have been done to look at its ability to fight anxiety, inflammation, and bad (LDL) cholesterol levels.

Coriander is also a good source of iron, magnesium, manganese, and fiber. It is also a strong antibiotic that can help fight food borne illnesses like salmonella and possibly listeria.

Coriander seeds can help reduce gas and bloating as well as increase your appetite. Rhubarb has this same effect as well.

One fascinating ability of Coriander seeds is that it can help nursing mothers produce more breast milk. Fennel, Dill and Anise also do this as well so mothers who do not produce sufficient amounts of breast milk can try eating more of these foods. However, consult with your doctor ahead of time to ensure you won’t have a negative reaction with any medications or conditions you may have.

Taste wise people seem to either really like it or hate it so for those who do not like the taste try mixing it with other spices and make your own blends. One of the most popular and healthiest blends of spices is Curry Powder.  However, taste wise it mixes best with Lentils, Beets, Onions and Potatoes. Here is an Ayurvedic tea mixture from the The Dr. Oz Show website that can help relieve pain and achy joints in the body:

Fight Pain

Pain is the result of toxins that accumulate in different parts of the body, like the  joints, sinuses, muscles, nerves, etc. According to Ayurvedic teachings, this is a result of undigested food that accumulates in the stomach overnight due to poor digestion. The key to relieving pain is the removal of these digestive impurities that are embedded in the body. There are two simple teas that remove digestive toxins that you can drink throughout the day to help relieve pain:

  • Detox tea is excellent at removing toxins. The combination of ingredients helps to improve digestion and “unclog” the channels in our body by removing digestive impurities. The key is to make the tea fresh every morning, place it in a thermos, and take small sips of it throughout the day.  It is best to drink it warm or hot.

Directions: Boil 4-5 cups of water in the morning. Add the following ingredients to the water and continue to let it boil for about 5 minutes with the lid on.

  • ½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon whole fennel seeds
  • One inch of fresh ginger root (if you have a tendency toward acid reflux or a burning sensation in your stomach, exclude the ginger)

Strain out the seeds and ginger and then pour the liquid into a thermos. If the tea is too strong or if you experience some initial discomfort, reduce the amount of seeds to ¼ teaspoon for 2 weeks and then increase it back to ½ teaspoon.

  1. Eidi M, Eidi A, Saeidi A, et al. Effect of coriander seed (Coriandrum sativum L.) ethanol extract on insulin release from pancreatic beta cells in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Phytotherapy Research: PTR [serial online]. March 2009;23(3):404-406.
  2. http://www.sharecare.com/question/health-benefits-of-coriander
  3. The Dr. Oz Show



Gusjer / Flickr

Cumin ★★★

Cumin is one of the healthiest spices on earth because it contains the compound curcumin. Cumin was able to kill up to 7 strains of H.pylori in one study. H. pylori is closely linked with stomach ulcers and may be linked with stomach cancers also. This is promising for those strains that have become resistant to antibiotics. Another study shows it can kill Staphylococcus aureus, which is the most common bacteria that causes staph infections.  It also killed Candida albicans, which can cause fungal infections especially in people whose immune systems are Cumin can also kill some food borne bacteria like E-coli. This is similar to the anti bacterial effect of Oregano.

This spice is in the top 2 spices to eat daily to protect against and fight cancer (Turmeric is the other). In one study, Cumin was able to prevent lab animals from developing liver and stomach cancers. In another study done on mice, Cumin was able to stop the growth and even prevent pancreatic cancer from forming.

Cumin is also a very good spice for your brain. Like Turmeric, Cumin can help improve and slow the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms by removing some of the plaque like beta-amyloid proteins that block neurons in the brain from communicating with each other.

Cumin can help with your digestion. It is routinely prescribed in Ayurvedic medicine for digestive problems.  It can also improve your circulation so it can also help with libido in both men and women. It also helps when you’re sick with the flu.

To sum up what Cumin is capable of, one journal article put it like this:

“[Cumin] has analgesic, anesthetic, antiaggregant, anti-allergic, antiasthmatic, antibacterial, anticancer, anticataract, antidiabetic, antiepileptic, antiflu, antihypertensive, anti inflammatory, antimutagenic, antiseptic effects.”

Esiyok D, Otles S, Akcicek E. Herbs as a food source in Turkey. Asian Pacific Journal Of Cancer Prevention: APJCP. July 2004;5(3):334-339.

Try to get a little Cumin in your diet 2-3 times per week. You can add it to virtually any dish and even drink it as a tea on its own or with other spices like Coriander seeds.

  1. O’Mahony R, Al-Khtheeri H, Weerasekera D, et al. Bactericidal and anti-adhesive properties of culinary and medicinal plants against Helicobacter pylori. World Journal Of Gastroenterology: WJG [serial online]. December 21, 2005;11(47):7499-7507.
  2. Roy J. Lai PK. Antimicrobial and chemopreventive properties of herbs and spices. Current Medicinal Chemistry, 2004, 11;(11) 1451-1460
  3. Sinha R, Anderson D, McDonald S, Greenwald P. Cancer risk and diet in India. Journal Of Postgraduate Medicine [serial online]. July 2003;49(3):222-228.
  4. http://www.sharecare.com/question/health-benefits-of-cumin




Turmeric/Curry Powder ★★★

This spice and spice blend may be the healthiest thing on earth. Curry power contains Turmeric, which is what gives the powder its yellow color. Turmeric contains special antioxidants called curcuminoids. These compounds along with a host of others in Turmeric are responsible for a range of things from lowering your cholesterol to fighting and even killing several different types of cancers both in lab studies (in vitro) and in humans.

What makes turmeric unique as a mood booster is that it can stop the brain from naturally digesting neurotransmitters, like dopamine, that your body releases when you feel happy. You begin to build up more of these neurotransmitters in your brain and your mood improves. This is especially useful in the winter time to help deal with seasonal awareness disorder (SAD). Studies are showing that the curcumin in turmeric is almost as effective as antidepressants when it comes to improving your mood. This is great because turmeric doesn’t have any side effects. The downside is that you would have to take up to 7 teaspoons of turmeric per day to see significant results. Your best bet is to take a curcumin supplement for this.

Turmeric and Ginger (a close cousin of Turmeric) are probably the most powerful anti inflammatory foods in the world. This means that if you are suffering from things like digestive disorders, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease or cancers, Turmeric and Ginger should be at the top of your food list because they are so effective at reducing chronic inflammation. These foods can help prevent these types of diseases because they all have chronic inflammation in common.

Here is a list of the potential health benefits from Turmeric:


  • Slows down the onset of Alzheimer’s
  • Ease arthritis pain, especially rheumatoid arthritis
  • Ease gastrointestinal problems
  • May kill bad bacteria, parasites and worms in your gut
  • Detoxifies your liver
  • Helps heal wounds
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Very strong anti inflammatory
  • Helps dissolve gallstones
  • Help protect the skin from UVB radiation from the sun when taken at high doses
  • Stop, reverse and prevent several types of cancers


Not only is Turmeric good at fighting cancers but it’s exceptionally good and proven as well. Here is a list of cancers Turmeric has been shown to fight off. The list was obtained from an article in the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists journal (AAPSJ).

Hematological cancers
ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) 1 cited study
ATL (Acute T cell Leukemia) 4 cited studies
AML (Acute Myelogenous Leukemia) 1 cited study
Promyelocytic leukemia 6 cited studies
Erythromyeloblastoid leukemia 1 cited study
Burkitt’s Lymphoma 2 cited studies
Hodgkin’s lymphoma 2 cited studies
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma 3 cited studies
Follicular lymphoma 1 cited study
Primary effusion lymphoma 1 cited study
Multiple myeloma 3 cited studies
Gastrointestinal cancers
Esophagus 1 cited study
Intestine 1 cited study
Liver 8 cited studies
Pancreas 2 cited studies
Colorectal 18 cited studies
Genitourinary cancer
Bladder 2 cited studies
Kidney 1 cited study
Prostrate 13 cited studies
Brain tumors 14 cited studies
Breast cancer 10 cited studies
Gyneoncologic cancers
Cervix 1 cited study
Ovary 2 cited studies
Thoracic/H&N cancers
Lung 7 cited studies
Melanoma 6 cited studies
Normal cells
Endothelial cells 2 cited studies
Lymphocytes 3 cited studies
Hepatocytes 3 cited studies
Fibroblasts 7 cited studies
Thymocytes 1 cited study
Mammary epithelial cells 1 cited study


Please note that although some cancers listed here have no cited studies, it does not mean that Turmeric cannot fight these cancers. It only implies that the authors could not locate a study that effectively shows cancer cells being eliminated or slowed down by Turmeric. It may also mean that a viable study has not even been done yet.

Also note that Turmeric does not kill normal cells. In fact it does quite the opposite and makes them stronger by neutralizing free radicals inside normal cells.

Ravindran J, Prasad S, Aggarwal B. Curcumin and cancer cells: how many ways can curry kill tumor cells selectively? The AAPS Journal. September 2009;11(3):495-510.


As amazing as Turmeric is, it can interact with some medications that you may be taking. Click here to see a list of some medications that Turmeric may interact with.

To get the best out of Turmeric take 1 teaspoon per day. You can sprinkle it on your dinner or lunch, drink it as a tea or even add it to a cup of warm milk. You can add a bit or sugar or honey to your tea or milk to counter its bitter taste if you like since Turmeric is a pungent spice. If you have cancer and want to take Turmeric as a part of your diet you may, and perhaps should, take even more than 1 teaspoon per day. However, clear this with your doctor as Turmeric may interfere with some chemotherapy medicines.

Curcumin Supplement

These supplements are one of the best ways to get the health benefits of turmeric. When turmeric is eaten as a spice or from the root, curcumin is hard for our bodies to absorb and only a small percentage of the spice is made up of curcumin. We can only absorb about 1% of the curcumin that’s present in the spice we eat. Curcumin supplements can help us get much more curcumin than we would by just eating turmeric. Look for supplements that say 95% standardized curcuminoids and have black pepper or black pepper extract as an ingredient. The piperine compound in black pepper helps us absorb curcumin in our digestive tracts. Take 500 mg twice per day, give it a few weeks to stark kicking in. It’s also good to have some black pepper when you eat turmeric as part of your diet because the body has a hard time absorbing it on its own.


  1. Pantazis P, Varman A, Ramanujam R, et al. Curcumin and turmeric attenuate arsenic-induced angiogenesis in ovo. Alternative Therapies In Health And Medicine [serial online]. March 2010;16(2):12-14.
  2. The Dr. Oz Show
  3. http://www.sharecare.com/question/why-is-turmeric-good
  4. motherherbs, Curcuma longa, located at http://www.motherherbs.com/curcuma-longa.html, accessed October 25, 2012
  5. Sumiyoshi M, Kimura Y. Effects of a turmeric extract (Curcuma longa) on chronic ultraviolet B irradiation-induced skin damage in melanin-possessing hairless mice. Phytomedicine: International Journal Of Phytotherapy And Phytopharmacology [serial online]. December 2009;16(12):1137-1143.
  6. Sinha R, Anderson D, McDonald S, Greenwald P. Cancer risk and diet in India. Journal Of Postgraduate Medicine [serial online]. July 2003;49(3):222-228.
  7. The Dr. Oz Show
  8. Kurien B, Scofield R. Curry spice curcumin and prostate cancer. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research [serial online]. July 2009;53(7):939-940.
  9. Carter A. Curry compound fights cancer in the clinic. Journal Of The National Cancer Institute [serial online]. May 7, 2008;100(9):616-617.
  10. Curry & onion chemicals may prevent colon cancer. Health News (Waltham, Mass.) [serial online]. October 2006;12(10):9.
  11. Funk JL, Oyarzo JN, Frye JB, Chen G, Lantz RC, Jolad SD, Sólyom AM, Timmermann BN. Turmeric extracts containing curcuminoids prevent experimental rheumatoid arthritis. J Nat Prod. 2006 Mar;69(3):351-5.




Dill (Dillweed)

Dill weed is unique among the family of aromatic spices. Dill’s strongest quality is that it helps reduce gas, and flatulence. Another equally strong quality is that it is a very good antimicrobial herb. It can kill E.coli, Salmonella, Staph infection and Streptococcus (strep throat), and A. flavus, which is a type of fungal infection. When added to insecticide Dill can enhance the insecticide’s effect. Dill can also help kill off and repel those insects you may find in your flour.

The antioxidants in Dill can help attach a very powerful enzyme in your body, called Glutathione, to carcinogens in your body caused by cigarette smoke, charcoal grill smoke or smoke from incinerators.

Dill can stimulate milk production in mothers who are lactating. In India, Dill is given to cattle to help them produce milk. It can also be used to help with bad breath (like Cloves).

  1. http://www.sharecare.com/question/health-benefits-of-dill
  2. Tian J, Ban X, Zeng H, He J, Chen Y, Wang Y. The mechanism of antifungal action of essential oil from dill (Anethum graveolens L.) on Aspergillus flavus. Plos One [serial online]. 2012;7(1):e30147.
  3. Jana S, Shekhawat G. Anethum graveolens: An Indian traditional medicinal herb and spice. Pharmacognosy Reviews [serial online]. July 2010;4(8):179-184.




Fennel seed ★

Fennel seeds are one of the best things to take for any gas and bloating. You can make a tea out of the seeds by just adding hot water to 1 teaspoon or so of seeds. You can strain out the seeds after a few minutes or just leave them. Many cultures around the Mediterranean and eastward sometimes chew some seeds after eating to help with digestion and freshen their breath. Fennel can be grown in most places in the U.S so you can plant some Fennel in your garden and harvest the seeds yourself.




Fenugreek ★

Fenugreek is excellent for treating digestive disorders like acid reflux. It is a great anti inflammatory especially for the digestive tract.

It has been known to help lower blood sugar levels, which means that Fenugreek is great for those who have type 1 or 2 diabetes1. As a strong anti inflammatory food it has the potential to kill cancer cells and protect your cells from free radical damage. One study noted it can even help protect your red blood cells from free radical damage2,3.

Fenugreek contains a range of vitamins and minerals. It has a majority of the vitamin B’s, which promote digestion and your energy levels. It also has a little bit of Vitamins A,C and E. The minerals it contains are manganese, copper, potassium, selenium and iron4.

There are at least two other uses for Fenugreek that do not have to do with your digestive system. The first is that it’s a natural booster of human-growth hormone (also known as HGH). You can add some of the leaves of the Fenugreek plant to hot water and drink it as a tea for this.

The second is that it can help get rid of dandruff. You can soak about two tablespoons of the seeds in water overnight and then grind them into paste and massage it into your scalp and let it sit for an hour. Then wash it out in the shower with shampoo and 1 tablespoon of lime juice with water 5,6.

There are several ways to add Fenugreek your diet. The most common ways are as a tea where you soak 1 or 2 teaspoons of seeds in water, or as a ground up spice, or as part of a Curry Powder mix. You can sprinkle some on your lunch, salad, meats, vegetables, snacks or dinner. It even works in yogurts.

  1. The Dr. Oz Show
  2. Khoja K, Shaf G, Alshatwi A, et al. Fenugreek, a naturally occurring edible spice, kills MCF-7 human breast cancer cells via an apoptotic pathway. Asian Pacific Journal Of Cancer Prevention: APJCP [serial online]. 2011;12(12):3299-3304.
  3. Kaviarasan S, Vijayalakshmi K, Anuradha C. Polyphenol-rich extract of fenugreek seeds protect erythrocytes from oxidative damage. Plant Foods For Human Nutrition (Dordrecht, Netherlands) [serial online]. 2004 Fall 2004;59(4):143-147.
  4. http://www.livestrong.com/article/449593-fenugreek-nutrition/
  5. The Dr. Oz Show
  6. The Dr. Oz Show



heymrleej / Flickr

Ginger ★★★

Ginger has had a long history of medicinal use for the treatment of common colds, fever, rheumatoid arthritis and any other inflammatory diseases, digestive and gastrointestinal problems, motion sickness, diabetes and cancer.

In India, Ginger is a universal medicine. They use it to cure the above diseases as well as many upper respiratory diseases and to strengthen the heart. To help with joint pain it is ground up into a paste and placed on the joints and it’s also used in the same way for headaches and migraines.

In a study done on rats, Ginger helped their muscle cells absorb glucose, lowering their blood glucose levels.

As a digestive aid a little bit can be eaten to help for stomachaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and motion sickness. It can also help with morning sickness and hangovers as well.

Ginger is one of the strongest anti-inflammatory foods out there (It’s cousin Turmeric is the other). If you suffer from chronic inflammation, Ginger or Turmeric is perfect for you. These foods help fight off and prevent digestive disorders, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancers. All of these conditions are linked to chronic inflammation as their source. By targeting the root cause of these diseases, you can knock out several birds with one stone.

Another benefit of Ginger is that it’s also a very strong antibacterial and antiviral food. This combination makes it a very good medicine for colds, the flu and sinus infections when its taken as a tea or steam inhaled.

As a cancer fighter Ginger is very good at keeping down inflammation, which are how many cancers start off. Plus, Ginger can help relieve the some of the side effect symptoms you may get from chemotherapy.

Ginger (like Garlic and Cinnamon) is also a natural blood thinner. This is one of Ginger’s most important qualities. This can help prevent strokes and heart attacks especially as you get older and red blood cells tend to start clumping together, increasing the risk of clotting in your arteries as well as strokes. It lowers your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and helps prevent and also fight off atherosclerosis.

Since Ginger lowers your blood pressure, it can help increase arousal in men and women and also help men who are suffering with erectile dysfunction.

To get the most out of Ginger you only need about a quarter of an inch piece per day. If the taste is too strong chop it up into small pieces and add it to your tea. The dried form of Ginger is more concentrated than the normal Ginger root so use only a ¼ teaspoon of the powder. Women who are pregnant should steer clear of the powder form but the root form is safe up to 1 gram per day.

  1. Hoffman T. Ginger: an ancient remedy and modern miracle drug. Hawaii Medical Journal [serial online]. December 2007;66(12):326-327.
  2. Li Y, Tran V, Duke C, Roufogalis B. Gingerols of Zingiber officinale Enhance Glucose Uptake by Increasing Cell Surface GLUT4 in Cultured L6 Myotubes. Planta Medica [serial online]. September 2012;78(14):1549-1555.
  3. The Dr. Oz Show




Grains of Paradise

In West Africa the seeds are used as a remedy for stomachaches and diarrhea. The seeds contain gingerols, which are compounds found in foods in the Ginger family that may be useful against heart disease, diabetes, and inflammation.

The image above is of the fruit before its dried and sold as “Grains” of Paradise.

  1. Ilic N, Schmidt B, Poulev A, Raskin I. Toxicological evaluation of grains of paradise (Aframomum melegueta) [Roscoe] K. Schum. Journal Of Ethnopharmacology [serial online]. February 3, 2010;127(2):352-356.




Hing (Ferula asafoetida)

Asafoetida (Hing) is an ancient medicine in India. It is primarily used to reduce gas and bloating especially for vata types in Ayurveda. It helps with digestion as well.1

Asafoetida can also protect against cancer. In one study done on rats the antioxidants helped stop lung cancer cells from dividing and helped stop new blood cells from forming in the tumors.2

Another study on rats shows that it may also be able to lower blood sugar as well but more research needs to be done especially on humans.3

  1. The Dr. Oz Show
  2. Kim K, Lee H, Kim S, et al. Galbanic acid isolated from Ferula assafoetida exerts in vivo anti-tumor activity in association with anti-angiogenesis and anti-proliferation. Pharmaceutical Research [serial online]. March 2011;28(3):597-609.
  3. Abu-Zaiton A. Anti-diabetic activity of Ferula assafoetida extract in normal and alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Pakistan Journal Of Biological Sciences: PJBS [serial online]. January 15, 2010;13(2):97-100.




See Horseradish in Vegetables.



Juniper Berry

Juniper Berry

Juniper berry is not a berry technically but seed cones from cone scales that fused together.

Traditionally, the berry has been used for dyspepsia and in combination with other plants for bladder and kidney conditions. It was also traditionally used to treat rheumatism, and to slow down hunger.1

Even though the berry has a strong scent it is not a very good antimicrobial food because in a few studies it failed to kill off a range of common food borne bacteria like E.coli. However, one study showed that it was effective at killing some fungi like Aspergillus flavus, which produce a toxin called aflotoxin that can be dangerous to humans especially those whose immune systems are weak. Unfortunately, Juniper berry was not effective at fighting off HIV in the lab either. 2,3

  1. Pepeljnjak S, Kosalec I, Kalodera Z, Blazević N. Antimicrobial activity of juniper berry essential oil (Juniperus communis L., Cupressaceae). Acta Pharmaceutica (Zagreb, Croatia) [serial online]. December 2005;55(4):417-422.
  2. Cosentino S, Barra A, Pisano B, Cabizza M, Pirisi F, Palmas F. Composition and antimicrobial properties of Sardinian Juniperus essential oils against foodborne pathogens and spoilage microorganisms. Journal Of Food Protection [serial online]. July 2003;66(7):1288-1291.
  3. Salido S, Altarejos J, De Clercq E, et al. Chemical studies of essential oils of Juniperus oxycedrus ssp. badia. Journal Of Ethnopharmacology [serial online]. June 2002;81(1):129-134.



Kaffir lime leaves bigjom freedigital ID-10055481

Kaffir lime leaves

Besides being used as spice in many SE Asian cultures, it is also used as an insect repellant.

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