Some interesting information on health and herbs and spices. March 17 2020, 0 Comments
Cayenne Pepper - Hot and spicy cayenne pepper is a member of the nightshade family, which includes potatoes, tomatoes, other peppers, and eggplant. The heat-producing component in the cayenne fruits is capsaicin, and patches or gels containing capsaicin can be used to soothe localized pain. It turns out that capsaicin is a potent inhibitor of pain-producing substance P made during inflammation. Substance P when released by neurons worsens pain sensations. Cayenne peppers are also powerful antioxidants, as you would expect from the bright red color. Remember, most highly pigmented foods contain antioxidants.
Cayenne, used sparingly, stimulates blood circulation and stimulates secretions to clear a stuffy nose making it an excellent immune boosting food. Some people sprinkle a little ground cayenne in their socks to warm their feet in cold weather or take it in capsule form for its warming effects. Also, be cautious with amounts used of spicy peppers, cayenne, and even black pepper until you know your level of sensitivity. Some people are very sensitive and reactive or don’t like the warm or hot feeling that peppers generate.
Cinnamon - Cinnamon comes from the dried bark of a tropical species of evergreen tree grown in Asia. The cinnamon more commonly sold in North America comes from the related cassia tree. It helps prevent infection and may stimulate immune activity, making it a welcome and tasty addition to your collection of immune boosting herbs and spices. There’s considerable research indicating that cinnamon can prevent clumping of blood platelets by blocking the release of inflammatory fatty acids from cell membranes. It also inhibits the formation of other inflammatory substances. Some research suggests it helps regulate blood sugar (a factor in inflammation), has antioxidant activity, and may reduce pain. Try it on your morning oatmeal.
Ginger - The pungent root of the ginger plant decreases inflammation in ways similar to aspirin, and it’s an antimicrobial against bacteria and fungus, making it a key immune boosting food. Some sailors, pregnant women, and people undergoing chemotherapy have found that ginger helps prevent or soothe nausea and motion sickness. Nausea and vomiting are complex processes controlled by the central nervous system and influenced by psychological issues. Studies show mixed results especially with chemotherapy-induced nausea, although ginger has reduced its severity. It’s been shown to be helpful in preventing pregnancy morning sickness. It also aids circulation and heat generation in the body. Ginger is readily available in ginger ale, as capsules, and in candied form.
Fresh ginger livens up the flavour of whatever you’re cooking or drinking, so try it in your morning oatmeal or evening stir-fry. Or use freshly grated ginger to make tea as a wonderful cold remedy. Avoid ginger if you’re taking blood thinners or aspirin.
Oregano - A powerful antimicrobial herb, oregano is effective in treating some fungal, bacterial, and parasitic infections, making it a great immune boosting herb to keep on hand or growing in the garden. Oregano has more antioxidant activity than apples, oranges, or blueberries! The popular seasoning is commonly used in Italian dishes like pizza, spaghetti, and minestrone soup.
Rosemary - The highly aromatic needlelike leaves of rosemary contain substances that increase circulation, improve digestion, and are anti-inflammatory. Some studies suggest it may reduce the severity of asthma attacks. In animal studies, an extract made from rosemary leaves was shown to have powerful and measurable antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. In a study at the University of Florida, white blood cells isolated from 10 people were incubated with hydrogen peroxide, which causes oxidative damage to dna. Blood cells from people who consumed capsules of rosemary (or ginger or turmeric) for a week were protected from this oxidative damage. The rosemary also lowered the inflammatory markers in the cells. Rosemary grows wildly in many parts of the world and is an easy immune boosting herb to have on hand dried or freshly growing in a pot.
Thyme - Thanksgiving stuffing, fragrant with thyme and onions, may actually protect us from infections during the holidays. Thyme contains some of the same components as oregano and is especially high in thymol, which gives thyme its antimicrobial properties against bacteria and fungi, which is why it’s a
first rate immune boosting food. Also an antioxidant, thyme has been shown to prevent oxidative damage to DNA in human lymphocytes. In other words, it protects genes. It also contains quercetin, found in onions, which inhibits histamine.
Turmeric (Curcumin) - The slightly bitter, bright yellow-orange turmeric root contains curcumin, a main ingredient in curries. Used for its intense yellow color (think mustard), curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory that may protect the liver from toxins. Preliminary research suggests it may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, lessen the pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis, and even prevent some cancers, which is why it is revered as a powerful immune boosting food worldwide.
Quick Tip: Antioxidant herbs contain chemical components called phenolics, flavonoids, carotenoids, and other phytochemicals. Some examples: cayenne, cinnamon, clove, garlic, licorice, onions, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. Except for oregano, all these herbs and spices have anti-inflammatory qualities. Herbs with antibiotic, antibacterial, or antifungal activity include cinnamon, garlic, ginger, licorice, oregano, and thyme.
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