Your spice rack may hold the secrets to lifelong health and wellbeing and you probably don’t even know it. Sure, your herbs and spices add much needed flare to your dinner experiments, but they can also transform your health. These unexpected health benefits are not so surprising to practitioners of traditional naturopathy, but even scientists, who rely on rigorous research for basing conclusions, have come to understand that many common household herbs have significant health benefits from preventing or ameliorating chronic conditions, to replacing unhealthy seasonings like salt. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of the 9 most common household herbs.
Sweet and aromatic, anise is a common seed that tastes something like licorice. Anise is a great herbal remedy for an upset stomach and it also helps to treat coughs and runny noses. Indeed, there are a great number of health benefits to anise; it:
- Improves appetite
- Acts as a natural diuretic
- Promotes milk flow in nursing women
- Eases menstrual discomfort
Moreover, Anise as an excellent source of fibre and calcium. It’s a great supplement for your overall health.
Basil is easily one of my favourite herbs for adding flavour to pastas, salads, and sauces. Its versatility is evidenced in the fact that it is used in a wide range of different world cuisines. In addition to its bold, sweet flavour, basil is a powerful antioxidant and natural anti-inflammatory that can improve cardiovascular health. Basil also helps to ameliorate the symptoms of respiratory infections, such as asthma, as it helps to soothe irritated airways. Essential oils in basil have also been linked to improved levels of blood sugar, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels.
Ginger has a long herbal medicine history. Traditionally used to treat colds and upset stomachs, recent research has shown that ginger may help to fight cancer and also reduce arthritis pain. Ginger has natural anti-inflammatory properties making it an effective remedy for a wide range of conditions including:
- Muscle pain
- Menstrual discomfort
- Upper respiratory tract infections
- Morning sickness
- Motion sickness
Fresh ginger adds a kick to vegetable or noodle dishes and can be added to sweet and savoury foods alike.
When I think about mint, I picture myself on a sunny patio sipping on my favourite of cocktail: the mojito! Still, mint is much more than a lively cocktail ingredient; indeed, there are many different kinds of mint each with distinct health benefits. Spearmint Is a great natural remedy for:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Other digestive ailments.
Peppermint is a delicious and effective treatment for colds as it helps to reduce throat inflammation, clear sinus infections, and promote respiratory health.
True story – just about my favourite ingredient in an omelette is oregano. There’s just something about that spice that adds depth and boldness to a basic breakfast, but the high antioxidant activity of oregano is another great reason to add it to your favourite recipes. In addition to its antioxidant properties, oregano is a natural antibacterial and antifungal herb that helps to protect against food-borne illnesses and infections.
Did you know that rosemary has been used as an herbal medicine for thousands of years? Dating back to the earliest civilizations, rosemary has been used as a natural anti-inflammatory and in recent years its benefits for respiratory, digestive, and bone health have been discovered. Moreover, a 2013 study found that rosemary may also improve memory and may prevent age-related cognitive decline. So the next time you’re cooking up your favourite chicken, fish, or soup recipes, add a generous dash of rosemary.
Commonly utilized to promote gastrointestinal health, sage has also recently been implicated as a treatment for:
- Memory loss
- Alzheimer’s disease.
Moreover, sage can alleviate menstrual pain and may reduce hot flashes during menopause. You can even apply sage directly to cold sores or inflamed gums to reduce pain and promote healing. Add sage to eggs, sauces, chicken, and fish.
Thyme is on your side especially when it comes to treating conditions like:
- Whooping cough
- Sore throats
- Upset stomach upset
- High blood pressure
- Yeast infections
- Parasitic worm infections
Combining natural anti-inflammatory properties with antibacterial and antifungal effects make thyme a versatile health remedy and cooking ingredient. Great in sauces or with pork or fish, thyme is also high in iron so helps to alleviate the symptoms of anemia.
One of the most common ingredients in Indian cuisine, and closely related to ginger, turmeric acts as an anti-inflammatory and therefore eases the symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, some recent evidence suggests that turmeric may even slow the growth of certain tumours. Moreover, there have been positive results in studies testing the effects of turmeric on depression. Turmeric is a delicious addition to stir-fry dishes, sauces, soups, and rice.
When it comes to the health benefits of common household herbs, the best news is that you don’t have to change anything about your diet or lifestyle. You should always follow the advice of your doctor for treating your health conditions, but adding a few interesting herbs to your favourite recipes is a simple and easy way to unlock the health benefits of everyday herbs.