Spices are a fantastic way to better health. They are not just there for good taste, but have been used since ancient times for health purposes and healing. Below are just a few examples of such spices and foods.
Turmeric is a terrific spice to start with – it is an anti-inflammatory and an immune system booster as well as a proven cancer cell killer. Put a bit of black or white pepper in with it [white is better, but black pepper works] and you increase the effectiveness of curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, by 2000% according to studies reported in PubMed. Turmeric contains a potent immunomodulatory agent that can modulate the activation of T cells, B cells, macrophages, neutrophils, natural killer cells, and dendritic cells. Curcumin can also reduce the expression of various pro-inflammatory cytokines, various interleukins and chemokines, most likely through inactivation of the transcription factor NF-κB. What does all this mean in terms of diseases? It means that curcumin has beneficial effects in preventing and treating arthritis, allergy, asthma, atherosclerosis, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and cancer by modulating the immune system.
Oregano is another great spice; it is an antioxidant and antibacterial and antifungal. Oregano is a powerful antioxidant, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic and an antimicrobial as well as having anti-inflammatory properties. According to USDA researchers, a tablespoon of fresh oregano contains as much antioxidant power as a medium sized apple. Phenols found in oregano, thymol and carvacrol, are responsible for its germ-killing abilities. It destroys pathogenic microorganisms like Salmonella typhimurium, E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, and MRSA, among others. The essential oil from oregano has been proven to kill MRSA at a dilution of 1 to 1,000. It can be used as a liquid or a vapor and its antimicrobial activity is not diminished by heating in boiling water. Oregano has also been used both internally and externally to treat fungal infections and has been proven to be successful at inhibiting the growth of yeasts like Candida albicans.
Another tremendously healthy food is honey – raw, uncooked honey. It is a strong antibacterial, good for more than just soothing throats. It is great for burns and open wounds and manuka honey, a type of honey that comes from New Zealand, is used in hospitals to treat serious burns. Honey is a powerful immune system booster; raw honey contains 27 minerals, 22 amino acids and 5,000 live enzymes. Honey fights disease and supports the digestive system. . It is also used to treat gastroenteritis and peptic ulcers as well as corneal ulcers. This means that if your child has a stomach bug, a spoonful of raw honey is not only good medicine, but one that he/she will take willingly. One spoonful three to four times daily spread on a bagel or a piece of bread or crackers is all that is needed to reap these benefits.
Our last miracle worker for today is garlic: Garlic is used to treat many conditions related to the heart and blood system and it affects many systems in the body. Many people call it a "blood purifier". Reputable scientific references and at least one study (in humans) suggest that garlic is effective for the following uses:
Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis): As people age, their arteries tend to lose their elasticity. Garlic has been shown to reduce this effect.
Diabetes: Garlic has been shown to cause a reduction in pre-meal blood sugar levels in both diabetics and those without diabetes. It’s not known if garlic reduces post-meal blood sugar levels or HbA1c levels.
High cholesterol: The most reliable evidence suggests that taking garlic can reduce total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, the so-called "bad" cholesterol) a bit when taken daily in people with high cholesterol levels .
High blood pressure: Taking garlic by mouth has been shown to reduce systolic blood pressure (the top number) by about 7-9 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by about 4-6 mmHg in people with high blood pressure.
Prostate cancer: Men in China who eat one clove of garlic daily have been shown to have a 50% lower risk of developing prostate cancer.
Tick bites: People who consume high amounts of garlic over about an 8-week period seem to have a reduced number of tick bites.
Ringworm and/or Jock itch: Applying a gel containing 0.6% ajoene, a chemical in garlic, twice daily for one week has been shown to be as effective as antifungal medication for treating jock itch and athlete's foot. Also, applying a garlic gel with 1% ajoene seems to be about as effective as the medicine Lamisil for treating athlete's foot.
These spices and foods are just a drop in the bucket of the wonderful things that we have available to us to keep us healthy and heal us when we are not.