Teaching Tuesdays- Spices, Nature's Pharmacy

There are many spices that are known to have medicinal properties. You probably  already know that garlic and ginger benefit your health, but I have a few others you may not know about. ".. Most Americans don't take full advantage of the wonderful world of spices", according to author Bharay Aggarqwal, in his book, Healing Spices. This book highlights 50 different spices that are said to either prevent or heal certain medical conditions and diseases. Following are a few spices that I thought were a bit more "unknown" in regard to their health benefits.

When choosing a Bay leaf, look for the whole ones, and ones that are uniform in size and color, and are free from stems and bark. The darker the coloring, and the larger the leaves, the better. When cooked, the bay leaf releases an array of antioxidants. Bay leaves are a natural medicine for various forms of cancer, arthritis, ulcers, wounds, and even mosquito bites.

Interestingly enough, Cumin, in a study done in India, was found to be as effective as an anti-diabetic drug when given to lab rats. It has also been shown to protect bone health and to help prevent food poisoning. The book recommends  purchasing whole cumin seeds rather than the ground seeds. 

Horseradish is a spice that was actually used as medicine before it was used as a food. It can clear congestion, fight both viruses and bacteria, relax smooth muscles, and reduce inflammation. Aggarwal recommends buying it prepared and preserved in vinegar, although he does say that it won't give you the same zing that fresh horseradish does.  

One very tasty spice that is commonly used, especially in Fall and Winter dishes and drinks, is cinnamon. Cinnamon is another antioxidant with antimicrobial properties. It also improves insulin sensitivity while it lowers cholesterol and triglycerides. 

So try spicing up more of your foods and drinks to put these spices to the test with your numbers! 

***Remember,  you should never quit taking any medications without consulting with your physician. Especially diabetic medications. Doing so could adversely affect your health, and even potentially result in death! 
I recommend routinely adding these spices to your diet, then you and your doctor can compare your (laboratory) blood tests to measure their impact. Together, you and your physician can decide the best plan for you and your health needs. 

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