Spices and herbs promoted as beneficial

June 02, 2003

Spices and herbs have long been used to prevent disease and treat a variety of medical problems. Many have antibacterial or antifungal properties, and some are even touted as herbal heroes for fighting cancer. In many cases, the more potent medical benefits of herbs and spices have not been scientifically proven.

- Bay leaf soothes nausea; aids digestion.

- Black pepper improves circulation; helps dispel colds.

- Cardamom gives energy; helps dispel colds; and lifts depression.

- Caraway seed aids digestion.

- Cayenne pepper reduces pain of arthritis and shingles; eases congestion; stimulates circulation and digestion.

- Cinnamon destroys fungal infections; fights ulcers; soothes indigestion; wards off urinary tract infections; fights tooth decay and gum disease; helps body use insulin more effectively.

- Clove reduces inflammation; fights fungal and candida infections; may stimulate production of cancer-fighting enzymes.

- Coriander reduces flatulence; relieves indigestion.

- Cumin aids digestion; reduces colic pain; stimulates circulation.


- Garlic reduces nasal congestion; lowers cholesterol and high blood pressure; eases cramps and muscular spasms.

- Ginger calms nausea and motion sickness; relieves headaches and toothaches; relieves arthritis pain; stimulates circulation.

- Nutmeg relieves headaches; reduces fever.

- Rosemary improves circulation; reduces stress; reduces arthritis pain; might help fight cancer.

- Saffron reduces arthritis pain.

- Turmeric (curcumin) reduces pain of gout and arthritis; speeds healing of wounds; alleviates intestinal gas; stimulates circulation; hinders cholesterol build-up; helps dispel colds; may fight cancer and protect against Alzheimer's disease.

The American Botanical Council recently published "The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs," which provides extensive medicinal and other information about the top 30 herbs on the U.S. market. The book is accredited as a continuing education tool for medical doctors, nurses, pharmacists and dietitians.

- Sources: American Botanical Council, UCLA Louise M. Darling, Biomedical Library, and

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