Certain herbs and spices are widely acknowledged as possessing medicinal properties. Common examples include cinnamon extracts, echinacea tea and turmeric formulas standardized for curcuminoids. Others such as basil, coriander, dill, ginger and rosemary are primarily thought of as means of adding complexity to international recipes. And, while that is undeniably the case, it is not a complete representation of their potential.
Recently, prestigious medical journals from around the world have defined an amazing and unexpected breadth of properties in common culinary herbs and spices. As a devout foodie and natural health researcher, this is very exciting news! However, these intriguing findings will only have meaningful influence if we spread the good news. So, have a look at the following summary of studies and, if interested, dig deeper by clicking on the links at the bottom of the column. Then, share what you’ve learned and report back with your own personal experiences.
When cooking chicken or lamb at home, we almost always include fresh rosemary to the recipe. Two new trials report that a supplement containing the powdered leaves of Rosmarinus officinalis may be a powerful adjunct for those trying to free themselves from opium addiction. A reduction in bone pain, insomnia and perspiration was noted in those taking rosemary, in addition to methadone, as opposed to a placebo. Also, inhaling the essential oil of R. officinalis has been shown to assist with the management of low blood pressure or hypotension. Another trial describes the success of an aromatherapy blend, containing basil, helichrysum and peppermint, in relieving symptoms of mental burnout and fatigue. The next time you add dill to salmon, you might be interested to know that this “weed” was recently demonstrated as having the ability to reduce triglycerides, a form of blood fat that can increase cardiovascular risk. Finally, cilantro (aka coriander) and ginger, likewise make current appearances in the medical literature. The trials in question reveal that cilantro essential oil is an effective antifungal agent when applied topically. Specifically, it may be useful in the eradication of tinea pedis, popularly known as “athlete’s foot”. In the case of ginger, a study appearing in the
December 2013 issue of the Journal of Holistic Nursing, reports that a ginger compress “relieves symptoms, improves the overall health, and increases independence of people with chronic osteoarthritis”. All of this is to say that just because a food or seasoning has a pleasant aroma or taste, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taken seriously as a natural medicine.