It’s that time of year again – the beginning of the holiday season. This is also the season of food, from Thanksgiving to Christmas and finally to New Years. We eat turkeys, hams, cakes, cookies, pies, casseroles made from the leftovers, and fruitcake – whatever that is, I never really did know for sure. The bottom line is that we get more than our fill of fats and carbs. Although it’s always fun pigging out during this time of year, the foods we eat are not necessarily the best for us. But hidden in these foods are the spices of the season – cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and peppermint, which all have benefits for your health.
- Regulates blood sugar –good news for diabetics.
- Lowers LDL, or bad cholesterol.
- Has anti-inflammatory powers helping to ease the pain of arthritis.
- Has been shown to kill H. pylori, the bacteria associated with stomach ulcers.
- Shows promise in helping people with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, brain tumors, and meningitis.
- Has been used since ancient times as a brain tonic helping to eliminate fatigue and stress. It also helps to relieve anxiety and depression, and improve concentration.
- A staple in Chinese medicine to treat inflammation and abdominal pain. It can relieve you of digestive problems such as diarrhea, constipation, and bloating. You can also apply nutmeg oil to painful joints and muscles for relief.
- Can be used for dental hygiene. Having antibacterial properties, nutmeg is often used in toothpastes to stop bacterial growth in the mouth that leads to gum problems and bad breath.
- Acts as a liver and kidney detox. Nutmeg tonic not only supports the kidneys, but also helps to prevent kidney stones as well as dissolve them.
- A tremendous anti-oxidant. They have an Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity (ORAC) value of over 290,000, making it one of the most powerful anti-oxidants in the food chain.
- High in manganese, an important mineral for activating enzymes.
- An anesthetic and has been used to relieve toothaches.
- Like cinnamon, cloves also help to stabilize blood sugar levels.
- Due to its anti-microbial properties, clove oil has been used to treat acne and warts.
- Maintains normal blood circulation. Ginger contains chromium, magnesium and zinc, which help to improve blood flow. Consuming a little ginger everyday helps to prevent plaque build up in the arteries.
- Improves nutrient absorption by stimulating stomach and pancreatic enzyme production.
- Prevents colds and flu when you drink fresh ginger tea. If you already have a cold, ginger acts as a natural expectorant breaking up phlegm and helps get rid of the mucous. It also expands the lungs to help you breathe easier.
- Cancer prevention and treatment. Ginger slows the growth of colorectal cancer cells, as well as inducing cell death in ovarian cancer cells.
- Combats stomach discomfort as it aids in digestion and relieves nausea. Taking a couple of ginger capsules can also prevent motion sickness.
- Great for digestion, peppermint oil relieves irritable bowel syndrome and colonic spasming. It is even an effective treatment for infantile colic.
- For the symptoms of hay fever, peppermint leaf extract inhibits histamine release easing the problems associated with allergies to pollen.
- For shingles sufferers, applying peppermint oil to the sores provides immediate relief from the pain of this condition*
- Just smelling peppermint oil enhances memory and mental alertness.
- The menthol in peppermint inhibits prostate cancer growth.
*Pure peppermint oil may burn a little bit; you can mix it with a little vegetable oil for topical applications.
Of course, when you mix these herbs and spices in with sugar and flour for baking, you lose the health enhancing benefits they offer. But, you can keep them year-round to be used for their medicinal qualities whenever you need them.