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Research verifies spices are important for health

Spices and herbs were used for good health centuries before pharmaceutical companies became multi-million dollar corporate producers of magic healing pills. The Father of Modern Medicine Hippocrates said "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." It would be healthiest if thy food contains many types of spices in moderate quantities.

This does not mean lining up ground dried spices in heat on or near the stove, keeping them for years and occasionally sprinkling some in when a new recipe calls for particular ones. Dried ones should be used within one year. Use fresh and whole spices whenever possible and store them in a cool, dark place with little or no humidity. Grind peppercorns, grate whole nutmeg, buy cardamom seed pods and pull out the seeds, and grow fresh herbs in a kitchen herb garden like the colonialists or on a windowsill and crush the leaves to use.

Basil makes a natural insect repellent against mosquitoes and flies. Steep one cup of fresh basil leaves in 2 cups of just-boiled water for a half hour. Cool and strain into a spray bottle to mist outdoor living areas like patios, porches and decks.

Chives are a pesticide against aphids on organic food crops. Add 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives to 1 cup boiled water, cover and let sit overnight. Strain, add 2 cups cold water and put in a spray bottle. Spray on flowering plants 3 times a day.

Cinnamon contains more antioxidants than any other spice, lowers LDL cholesterol, reduces leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells, and a new study at Rush University Medical Center suggests it may help alleviate or prevent tremors and poor mobility suffered by those with Parkinson’s disease. It contains a compound that the liver turns into sodium benzoate which is sent to the brain and protects neurons and normalizes neurotransmitters.

Lavender is a calming agent. To one cup of oatmeal add 1 tablespoon of dried lavender and tie inside a square of cheesecloth. Soak for several minutes in a bowl of hot water and squeeze out excess liquid. Dab over face and rinse with infused water left in bowl.

Mint is a digestive aid that calms an upset stomach. Steep a medium-sized bunch of fresh mint leaves in 2 cups of boiled water for 20 minutes, covered. Strain and sip the liquid.

Nutmeg, thought of most commonly in eggnog, contains B-complex vitamins and minerals like copper, iron and zinc in addition to myricistin, a powerful hallucinogenic that relieves symptoms of depression. Too much of it can lead to death. A small pinch of grated nutmeg makes a soothing lip balm in 1 teaspoon coconut oil and 1 teaspoon beeswax gently melted in a pan. Add 1 tablespoon almond oil or cinnamon essential oil and cool completely in small glass jars before capping.

Oregano is a remedy for coughs. Simmer 1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves in 2 cups almost boiling water, remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes covered. Add a little honey and drink while warm. Oregano also has 4 times more antioxidants than blueberries per fresh weight grams plus fiber, manganese, vitamin E, iron, and calcium. Oil of oregano has been used to kill drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains.

Rosemary in addition to making a great facial treatment contains calcium, iron, potassium, vitamins B6, folate, C and A (aka beta-carotene good for eye health). Another component is carnosic acid which protects retinas from degeneration and may help prevent or halt age-related macular degeneration, the most common eye disease in the United States.

Sage contains phytoestrogens that help relieve hot flashes for women but more importantly has been shown to increase cognitive performance and in two recent studies decreased effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Its active compounds Salvia officinalis L. and Salvia lavandulaefolia L. are the reason as published by the National Institutes of Health in 2014.

Thyme is a muscle relaxer and good for joint pain. Put a small bunch of fresh thyme in a warm bath.

Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its gold color and relieves inflammatory diseases like arthritis, reducing tenderness and swelling of joints. It contains curcumin and can be sprinkled into nearly every food.

Watch the video for a recap of healthy spices and diseases they can help control. Consult a doctor before using new spices or herbs as health remedies.

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