Tag Archive | herbs

Spice up your Life – Fennel Seed

Fennel is a plant that has it all; it’s actually a vegetable, spice, and herb! The ground bulb is the vegetable, the sprouts are the herbs, and the flower that produces the seeds are the spice. The seeds are a big hit with many people because they go well with so many dishes. Many people are not aware of the amazing health benefits that fennel seeds offers. Did you know that fennel seeds have been shown to help with menstrual cramps? It’s also been shown to have a healing effect for colitis, glaucoma, heart disease, and high blood pressure. In an Indian study, researchers discovered that fennel seeds had a strong impact on boosting brain activity, making the seeds good for those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Fennel seed is very easy to incorporate into your diet because it compliments dishes with mushrooms, salmon, tomatoes, curry and chicken. The flavors in the seeds pair nicely with allspice, ginger, garlic, and coriander.

FAST FACT: In folk medicine, fennel was used to soothe digestive disorders including bloating and gas.

Spice up Your Life – The Healing Power of Turmeric!

Turmeric is a staple spice in India and is used in just about every dish. It has also been used for more than 2,000 years in India (and China) to help heal and prevent health issues. It owes it’s healing properties to the active ingredient called curcumin, a compound that is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Traditional healers have used turmeric to aid in digestive issues, improve blood flow, and to help rid nasal passageways of congestion. Turmeric has also been shown to have amazing abilities to help fight and ward-off cancer. It’s been shown to inhibit the activation of genes that trigger cancer, inhibit the spread of tumor cells, and enhance the cancer-destroying effects of chemotherapy and radiation. It’s also been shown to help heal asthma, liver disease, gout, acne, and arthritis. Indian women use turmeric in the form of a face mask to help keep their faces smooth and free of wrinkles. It’s also been shown to help heal topical wounds and rashes.

FAST FACT: Did you know that turmeric was once called the “poor man’s saffron” due to it’s brilliant yellow hue?

References: Aggarwal, Bharat. Healing Spices, Sterling Publishing Co, New York, NY. 2011.

Spice up Your Life – The Health Benefits of Saffron

Saffron has to be one of my most favorite spices to add to my dishes. I love it’s amazing golden-red color and the amazing way this pretty spice tastes. As I’m sure you have noticed, saffron can be a bit expensive! This is because it literally takes 80,000 crocus flowers and a quarter of a million dried stigmas to produce one pound of saffron! Good thing it is sold in little containers and in smaller quantities. Saffron is great to add to a variety of dishes including chicken, polenta, rice, soups, and curries. It also pairs well with the taste of cloves, nutmeg, cumin, and mint. Saffron contains properties that have been shown to help with depression, anxiety, and fatigue. It has also been shown to aid in relieving the symptoms associated with PMS including menstrual cramps. Saffron contains a powerful antioxidant called crocin and studies have shown that this can have a positive effect on boosting fertility in men. The higher the amount of crocin the darker the color of the saffron (and the better the quality).

FAST FACT: Saffron only works in liquids and it should be infused in warm water (or milk) before added to a recipe.

References: Healing Spices by Bharat B. Aggarwal. Sterling Publishing Co, 2011. New York, NY.

Authentic Herb of the Week: Arnica!

Have you heard of the herb called arnica? Have you ever used it? Many people have purchased it in lotion form to use topically on their skin. But what is arnica and what are it’s healing properties?

What is it? It is an herb with several flower stalks that are can be yellow or orange. They have daisy-like blooms and appear in the midsummer months.

Where is it grown? Arnica is native to Alaska, the Western United States and Mexico.

What are it’s healing properties? This herb has stimulant and analgesic properties.

What does it do? It has been said to relieve the symptoms associated with aches, strains, bruises, and painful injuries (only when the skin has not been broken). Internally, arnica should only be prescribed by a highly experienced natural health practitioner.

Where do you get it? Arnica comes in sprays, gels, tinctures, creams and ointments. You  can usually find different products containing arnica at your local natural health food store or pharmacy.

Fun Fact: To make your own “Oil of Arnica”, simply macerate fresh or dried arnica leaves and flowers in warm sesame or olive oil for three days. Then squeeze and strain it through a cloth.  You can bottle it and keep it on hand in your medicine cabinet!

Words of Wisdom: While natural treatments that use herbs are very beneficial and have been shown to improve health dramatically, always consult your local health care professional or herbalist before introducing a new supplement or herb to your daily routine.

References: The Way of Herbs. Tierra, Michael, L.A.C., O.M.D. 1980. Pocket Books. New York, NY.

Spice up your Life – The Healing Power of Sage!

Sage has been a popular herb for many years in a variety of cultures around the world. It is a prominent feature in Italian cuisine and the Germans use it in a lot of their hearty dishes. In the Middle East, fresh sage leaves are added whole to salads. There are about 900 varieties of sage but only a few of them are used for cooking. Not only does sage have an amazing taste, it is loaded with health benefits. It’s been said that sage helps to promote a clearer mind and a better mood. Studies have shown that sage not only can aid in preventing age-related memory loss, but it can help people recall information faster. One study tested safe on people who have Alzheimer’s and they found that it may have reduced the agitation associated with the disease. In addition to these health benefits, sage has been known to prevent cold sores, eczema, fatigue, sore throats, and ulcers. It’s very easy to include into your diet because it goes so well in a variety of dishes. It pairs nicely with parsley, thyme, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic. Start adding some sage to your meals today and reap it’s amazing health benefits.

FAST FACT: German researchers discovered that topical lotion with sage as an ingredient had a big impact on healing irritant-induced skin rashes.

Daily Nutrition Nibble: Buy some Fresh Basil!

I love the way fresh basil tastes and smells! Did you know that there are many different types of basil including Sweet Basil, Holy Basil, Cinnamon Basil, and Lime Basil? Basil has been appreciated for it’s amazing healing properties for many years, including it’s antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties. Basil is also a concentrated source of iron, calcium, and potassium. For the most nutritious and best tasting basil, find a plant with the brightest and most colorful leaves.

Spice up your Life – The Healing Power of Thyme!

Thyme is everywhere! Did you know that there are over 100 hundred varieties of thyme of these little herb? The one thing that they all have in common is the volatile oil called thymol, a powerful antiseptic that kills harmful germs. If you ever get a nasty cough or a sore throat, try brewing some dried thyme leaves as a strong tea. You can even add a little raw honey for some more powerful nutrients. Thyme has also been shown to help prevent tooth decay and cold sores, making it a dream herb for dentists! This herb is also known to help prevent cancer, ulcers, and heart attacks. It is also a dream-herb for those trying to slow the signs of aging. Thyme pairs well with basil, bay leaf, rosemary and sage. It is a delicious addition to casseroles, sauces, chicken and fish dishes. Check out the fabulous thyme from MySpiceSage.com. You will love it!


– Dried thyme can be used in potpourris to repel moths!

– Studies have shown that by adding thyme to a high-fat diet can reduce the the formation of blood clots, a risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.

References: Healing Spices by Bharat B. Aggarwal. Sterling Publishing Co, 2011. New York, NY.

Authen-tip: Time to get some Thyme

I love to cook mainly because I spend all my time playing around with different herbs and spices. Thyme is one of my favorites, not only because it tastes so great, but because it is fabulous for health! Did you know that thyme contains beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium, and manganese? It also contains a high level of thymol, an oil that can help with infections in the respiratory tract. It is also a helpful herb for soothing bloating and IBS. You can add thyme to many different recipes or drink it as a tea!