Like Lemons, Lemongrass is good at calming down anxiety and nervousness. In parts of Mexico and Brazil, it’s used as a sedative. A study showed that Lemongrass extract in mice helped treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and epilepsy.1
Lemongrass has been used to treat nervousness and the problems it can have on the stomach and gastrointestinal tract. When you’re having stomach pain try 1 cup of Lemongrass tea it can help remove the gas that’s produced by cells when there’s inflammation in the stomach. Lemongrass can also help treat hypertension, high cholesterol and it’s a very good anti inflammatory food. The compounds in it are strong antioxidants that can clean out carcinogens (toxins) from the body that can damage DNA. It has 10x more antioxidants than Spinach and 7x more than Blueberries. In Nigeria they have used Lemongrass to treat diabetes, obesity and heart disease.2
Like Acai and Stawberries, Lemongrass is a COX 2 inhibitor, meaning it can help limit or stop the inflammatory response in your body from when you get injured or when you get sick. It also means that it can help prevent cancer because chronic inflammation is a risk factor. Because the concentration of the compound citral, the main antioxidant, is low in Lemongrass, it will not do the job alone so it’s certainly not a replacement for pharmaceutical drugs. However, making Lemongrass a part of your daily diet may possibly have an impact on lowering your cancer risk over time.3
Lemongrass also comes in tea and oil form and the oil when applied to the body can act as a natural insect repellant.
- Costa C, Kohn D, de Lima V, Gargano A, Flório J, Costa M. The GABAergic system contributes to the anxiolytic-like effect of essential oil from Cymbopogon citratus (lemongrass). Journal Of Ethnopharmacology [serial online]. September 1, 2011;137(1):828-836.
- Costa C, Bidinotto L, Takahira R, Salvadori D, Barbisan L, Costa M. Cholesterol reduction and lack of genotoxic or toxic effects in mice after repeated 21-day oral intake of lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) essential oil. Food And Chemical Toxicology: An International Journal Published For The British Industrial Biological Research Association [serial online]. September 2011;49(9):2268-2272.
- Katsukawa M, Nakata R, Takizawa Y, Hori K, Takahashi S, Inoue H. Citral, a component of lemongrass oil, activates PPARα and γ and suppresses COX-2 expression. Biochimica Et Biophysica Acta [serial online]. November 2010;1801(11):1214-1220.
Like Lemongrass, Lemon Myrtle contains the compound Citral, which is an effective antimicrobial. The tea form of Lemon Myrtle is not effective at killing bacteria and viruses but the leaf paste and oil are more effective.
One study found that in a lab it killed bacteria like Clostridium perfringens, which is one of the sources of food poisoning, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a common bacteria on many surfaces, and Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus, more commonly known as MRSA.
Marjoram may help your digestion and also help you get to sleep. You should add about 5 drops of Marjoram oil to a warm bath to get the benefits. It’s a good oil to reduce stress. You can also eat about 1 teaspoon per day to get the benefits.1
One study found that Marjoram helped kill leukemia cancer cells in the lab.2
Adding some Lemon myrtle to your food may help protect against food poisoning and keep you healthy.3
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- Abdel-Massih R, Fares R, Bazzi S, El-Chami N, Baydoun E. The apoptotic and anti-proliferative activity of Origanum majorana extracts on human leukemic cell line. Leukemia Research [serial online]. August 2010;34(8):1052-1056.
- Wilkinson J, Hipwell M, Ryan T, Cavanagh H. Bioactivity of Backhousia citriodora: antibacterial and antifungal activity. Journal Of Agricultural And Food Chemistry [serial online]. January 1, 2003;51(1):76-81.
Mustard Seed ★
Of the different types/colors of Mustard seeds out there, the brown Mustard seeds tend to have the most heath benefits. However, all of them can boost your metabolism by about 25% in 3 hours or so when you take 1 teaspoon of the seeds.1 It is also a very strong anti microbial food, killing bacteria like E.coli in hamburger meats, listeria, which is another cause of food poisoning and Staphylococcus aureus (Staph infection).2 It’s important to note that the mustard we use as a condiment on things like burgers and hot dogs contains little if any of the compound in Mustard seeds responsible for these health benefits.
The seeds contain a compound called Allyl isothiocyanate (AITC) that also found in cruciferous Vegetables like Broccoli, Cauliflower and Mustard greens. This is the main compound responsible for Mustard seed’s health benefits and it’s responsible for the cruciferous vegetable taste. In one study done on rats, Mustard seeds were very successful at stopping bladder cancer growth and caused the cells to die.3
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- Bhattacharya A, Li Y, Wade K, Paonessa J, Fahey J, Zhang Y. Allyl isothiocyanate-rich mustard seed powder inhibits bladder cancer growth and muscle invasion. Carcinogenesis [serial online]. December 2010;31(12):2105-2110.
Nutmeg is spice that can help calm your mind and help you sleep. It can mimic the effect that serotonin has on your body. It works great in combination with Milk because milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that helps you get to sleep. Turkey, Pumpkin seeds and Bananas contain tryptophan also so Nutmeg will also work well with these foods to help you sleep. Add up to but not more than ½ teaspoon of Nutmeg to your milk, oatmeal, yogurt or coffee.
Nutmeg can also calm your digestive tract if you are experiencing indigestion or upset stomach.
The scent of Nutmeg can also relax you as well.
Click Here for Onions. Note that Onion powder is more concentrated than Onion so it has a higher concentration of the nutrients. Generally the powder is about 10x more concentrated than onions.
Oregano may be the strongest antibacterial and antiviral and antifungal spice available. This makes it great for fighting colds and the flu. You can add a few drops of Oregano oil to hot water and inhale the steam. You can do this until your throat feels less irritated.1
As an antimicrobial it can kill Candida fungi and nail fungal infections.2
You want to try to get Oregano leaf because when the leaf is first crushed it releases the oils that are responsible for killing bacteria viruses and fungi so make sure to crush the leaf right before adding it to your food.3 Eat about 1 teaspoon per day to get the best health results.
See Chili Peppers.
Rosemary is a good weapon to fight off cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, and allergies.
Rosemary contains rosmarinic acid, which can block the compounds in your body that trigger an allergic reaction. Because of this, its great for arthritis, since it reduces inflammation. Besides simply eating some Rosemary, you can mix it with Jojoba Oil and Oatmeal and spread it around the joints or all over your body to help reduce inflammation from arthritis or the pains that come from the flu or catching a cold.1
When grilling you usually get those burned or black areas on your food. Chemicals in the black areas are carcinogenic (toxic) for your cells. Also, when fat drips off your meat into the flames a reaction occurs that produces carcinogenic compounds in the smoke that get in your food and lungs. Rosemary (and also Chlorophyll) can help with this by preventing the chemicals from harming your cells. These chemicals or compounds can increase your risk for developing cancer, specifically stomach and colon cancer. So when you put food on the grill, grill it with some Rosemary.1,3
Rosemary also helps your memory by increasing the flow of blood to your hippocampus, the memory center in your brain. It may be useful to have some Rosemary for a few days before an exam or test. The smell from Rosemary can help improve your memory. The ancient Greeks use to wear Rosemary garlands around their necks during exams. It wouldn’t hurt to eat some before a big test either. Because of this quality, it can also slow or help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.2,5
Rosemary may also help protect your skin from damage from the sun. It keeps the suns rays from damaging DNA in your cells and by doing this it may help reduce your risk of developing skin cancer.3
It can also help with gas and bloating. You can make an iced tea with the leaves by adding 1 tablespoon of the leaves to 3 cups of boiling water and add ice as it cools. Drink the 3 cups throughout the course of the day.1
What’s great about Rosemary is that you can grow it indoors and it does not need much water since it likes drier soil but it does need a very sunny window.
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- Wang W, Li N, Luo M, Zu Y, Efferth T. Antibacterial activity and anticancer activity of Rosmarinus officinalis L. essential oil compared to that of its main components. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) [serial online]. March 5, 2012;17(3):2704-2713.
- Russo A, Lombardo L, Troncoso N, Garbarino J, Cardile V. Rosmarinus officinalis extract inhibits human melanoma cell growth. Natural Product Communications [serial online]. December 2009;4(12):1707-1710.
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Saffron is one of the most expensive spices that are readily available. Pound for pound it’s more expensive than gold. Luckily, we only need a very small amount to reap the health benefits of this spice.
Saffron contains a very powerful antioxidant called crocin that can cause cancer cells to stop reproducing in studies.1
It is an anti spasmodic that helps with stomachaches and digestive problems and can help balance your appetite.1
In Iran it has been traditionally used to treat depression. It can work as well as or better in some cases than Prozac and Imipramine with less side effects.1,2
There’s some indication that Saffron may be able to help treat PMS. However, more research needs to be done here. It has also been used as a treatment for colic.
It may also be an aphrodisiac. One small study done on 30 men showed that it helped relieve erectile dysfunction.5 It may also help to enhance memory but more research needs to be done here as well.
Studies have used up to 15mg of Saffron twice per day with no toxic side effects so using up to that much should be ok. But, everyone has different levels they can tolerate so you may be better off using it as a spice when cooking.
- Agha-Hosseini M, Kashani L, Aleyaseen A, et al. Crocus sativus L. (saffron) in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: a double-blind, randomised and placebo-controlled trial. BJOG: An International Journal Of Obstetrics And Gynaecology [serial online]. March 2008;115(4):515-519.
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- Das I, Chakrabarty R, Das S. Saffron can prevent chemically induced skin carcinogenesis in Swiss albino mice. Asian Pacific Journal Of Cancer Prevention: APJCP [serial online]. January 2004;5(1):70-76.
- Crocus sativus, Motherherbs, motherherbs.com, located at http://www.motherherbs.com/crocus-sativus.html. Accessed October 14, 2013.
- Modabbernia A, Sohrabi H, Akhondzadeh S, et al. Effect of saffron on fluoxetine-induced sexual impairment in men: randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Psychopharmacology [serial online]. October 2012;223(4):381-388.
Sage has been used in ancient Chinese medicine to protect against memory loss from age by increasing blood flow to the cortex. Sages, especially those who live in the mountains where the air is thinner, use this to keep their memory and brain functioning sharply.1,2,4
Sage is very good at fighting off inflammation, which is why it’s a good treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.1
It can help treat nausea and upset stomach and it’s easy on digestion as well. It works well with warm foods so use it in soups. Take about 1 teaspoon per day. If you grow it in your garden it does not need much water.1,3,4
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- Scholey A, Tildesley N, Ballard C, et al. An extract of Salvia (sage) with anticholinesterase properties improves memory and attention in healthy older volunteers. Psychopharmacology [serial online]. May 2008;198(1):127-139.
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Chinese Star Anise
Chinese Star anise is actually the dried fruit of Illicium verum. It’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine as therapy for vomiting, stomach aches and gas. The oil also been used to treat inflammation and to treat rheumatism so it’s a very good anti inflammatory spice. The power of the spice is used in tea to help treat anxiety and as a tea it makes a good sedative so it can help with insomnia.1,2
Star anise is a good antibacterial and antifungal spice1-3. The main component in this spice is called anethole. This compound helps give star Anise its anti inflammatory and mind calming quality. In addition, it can help you get over the common cold by improving your Qi (or Chi) flow2. As a bonus, some studies are finding that star Anise works together with certain antibiotics to help you get better. The antibiotics that were looked at in these studies were amoxillin, clindamycin, ampicillin, and piperacillin2.
- Wang G, Hu W, Huang B, Qin L. Illicium verum: a review on its botany, traditional use, chemistry and pharmacology. Journal Of Ethnopharmacology [serial online]. June 14, 2011;136(1):10-20.
- Yang J, Yang C, Chuang L, et al. Chemical composition and antibacterial activities of Illicium verum against antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Journal Of Medicinal Food [serial online]. October 2010;13(5):1254-1262.
- De M, De A, Sen P, Banerjee A. Antimicrobial properties of star anise (Illicium verum Hook f). Phytotherapy Research: PTR [serial online]. February 2002;16(1):94-95.
Sumac is used as a spice but can also be used to make sumac-ade (sumac lemonade). It is a very strong anti microbial spice. It can kill several strains of food borne pathogens like staph, E. coli, listeria and salmonella. One study shows that it may potentially protect against herpies.1,2
It was traditionally used by Native Americans to help treat diseases like syphilis, gonorrhea, dysentery and gangrene.3
- Nasar-Abbas S, Halkman A. Antimicrobial effect of water extract of sumac (Rhus coriaria L.) on the growth of some food borne bacteria including pathogens. International Journal Of Food Microbiology [serial online]. December 1, 2004;97(1):63-69.
- Reichling J, Neuner A, Sharaf M, Harkenthal M, Schnitzler P. Antiviral activity of Rhus aromatica (fragrant sumac) extract against two types of herpes simplex viruses in cell culture. Die Pharmazie [serial online]. August 2009;64(8):538-541.
- Rayne S, Mazza G. Biological activities of extracts from sumac (Rhus spp.): a review. Plant Foods For Human Nutrition (Dordrecht, Netherlands) [serial online]. December 2007;62(4):165-175.
Tamarind in lab studies done on mice showed that it is an unexpectedly strong cancer fighter. The study tested it on lung, mouth, breast and lymphoma cancer cells.1
Tamarind was also effective at reversing the effects of a high fat diet on the body by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and helped clean toxins out of the bloodstream.2
Traditionally it has been used in Africa as a laxative. When its eaten in larger quantities it may help treat ulcers as well.3
- Aravind S, Joseph M, Varghese S, Balaram P, Sreelekha T. Antitumor and immunopotentiating activity of polysaccharide PST001 isolated from the seed kernel of Tamarindus indica: an in vivo study in mice. The scientific world journal [serial online]. 2012;2012:361382.
- Azman K, Amom Z, Kadir K, et al. Antiobesity effect of Tamarindus indica L. pulp aqueous extract in high-fat diet-induced obese rats. Journal Of Natural Medicines [serial online]. April 2012;66(2):333-342.
- Havinga R, Hartl A, Putscher J, Prehsler S, Buchmann C, Vogl C. Tamarindus indica L. (Fabaceae): patterns of use in traditional African medicine. Journal Of Ethnopharmacology [serial online]. February 17, 2010;127(3):573-588.
There are several studies out there (on humans and rats) that show that this spice/herb is excellent for those who have type 2 diabetes.1-3
It can help treat upset stomach, nausea and vomiting.
Traditionally, it has been used to help stimulate digestion especially in cultures that would eat a lot of red meat. It has been used in Arabic cultures to treat insomnia and neutralize the taste of medicines. It’s been used all around Europe and Russia to treat all types of wounds and skin irritations like allergic rashes. It was used to treat fevers in India.4
Native American women used it to treat excessive flow during their menstrual cycle. When the leaves were chewed it also helped treat heart palpitations. The roots were used in hot baths to help strengthen the elderly and children. Burning the leaves also makes a good mosquito repellant.4
Tarragon can be eaten as flavoring in food, or made into a tea. Use about 1 teaspoon of Tarragon in a cup of boiling water.
- Scherp P, Putluri N, Kheterpal I, et al. Proteomic analysis reveals cellular pathways regulating carbohydrate metabolism that are modulated in primary human skeletal muscle culture due to treatment with bioactives from Artemisia dracunculus L. Journal Of Proteomics [serial online]. June 18, 2012;75(11):3199-3210.
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- Weinoehrl S, Feistel B, Pischel I, Kopp B, Butterweck V. Comparative evaluation of two different Artemisia dracunculus L. cultivars for blood sugar lowering effects in rats. Phytotherapy Research: PTR [serial online]. April 2012;26(4):625-629.
- Obolskiy D, Pischel I, Feistel B, Glotov N, Heinrich M. Artemisia dracunculus L. (tarragon): a critical review of its traditional use, chemical composition, pharmacology, and safety. Journal Of Agricultural And Food Chemistry [serial online]. November 9, 2011;59(21):11367-11384.
Thyme is an excellent anti bacterial food. It can kill the MRSA bacteria, which causes staph infections. It’s one of the ingredients in Listerine mouthwash and in some cough drops because of its antibacterial strength. You can grow your own Thyme in your garden
Vanilla may help keep bacteria from growing when added to food as a flavoring.
- Choo J, Rukayadi Y, Hwang J. Inhibition of bacterial quorum sensing by vanilla extract. Letters In Applied Microbiology [serial online]. June 2006;42(6):637-641.
Wasabi ★ (Also in Vegetables)
However, Wasabi has even more than just the Brassica family’s health benefits. It has been shown to keep cancer cells from growing and may also cause them to kill themselves (apoptosis), particularly stomach cancer cells. One way it may do this is by killing H.Pylori, which has been linked to stomach ulcers, stomach cancer and gastrointestinal cancers.1,2
Wasabi is also an extremely strong antibacterial and anti inflammatory food. It can kill yeast and some molds as well as food borne pathogens like E. coli, Staph, Salmonella and Listeria.3
It also can help lower cholesterol levels and act as a blood thinner so it can help prevent strokes, heart attacks and cardiovascular disease.4,5
As healthy as the roots are (the part we usually eat), the leaves seem to contain more of the healthy nutuents.6
- Watanabe M, Ohata M, Hayakawa S, et al. Identification of 6-methylsulfinylhexyl isothiocyanate as an apoptosis-inducing component in wasabi. Phytochemistry [serial online]. March 2003;62(5):733-739.
- Yano T, Yajima S, Virgona N, et al. The effect of 6-methylthiohexyl isothiocyanate isolated from Wasabia japonica (wasabi) on 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-buatnone-induced lung tumorigenesis in mice. Cancer Letters [serial online]. July 31, 2000;155(2):115-120.
- Kinae N, Masuda H, Shin I, Furugori M, Shimoi K. Functional properties of wasabi and horseradish. Biofactors (Oxford, England) [serial online]. 2000;13(1-4):265-269.
- Morimitsu Y, Hayashi K, Nakagawa Y, Horio F, Uchida K, Osawa T. Antiplatelet and anticancer isothiocyanates in Japanese domestic horseradish, wasabi. Biofactors (Oxford, England) [serial online]. 2000;13(1-4):271-276.
- Lee Y, Yang J, Li C, et al. Anti-oxidant and Anti-hypercholesterolemic Activities of Wasabia japonica. Evidence-Based Complementary And Alternative Medicine: Ecam [serial online]. December 2010;7(4):459-464.
- Shin I, Masuda H, Naohide K. Bactericidal activity of wasabi (Wasabia japonica) against Helicobacter pylori. International Journal Of Food Microbiology [serial online]. August 1, 2004;94(3):255-261.