Living life large is not always a matter of more. The simple and small things in life can add some spice. We have become so accustomed to being entertained at any moment that even the small wonders are not so wonderful anymore. We are busy and stressed and don't stop to pay mindful attention to the subtle values in life.
The same goes for our food. We use too much salt and kill the natural taste of the food. Herbs and spices can be a delicate and subtle enhancement to the taste of the food, rather than be the taste. We need to slow down and take the time enjoy every little bite to even notice these small hints of both flavor and aroma.
Life seems to be similar for many. The subtle nuances of our personalities and our moods. Our emotions flowing through us tend to be suppressed as we fear they will cause us pain rather than more life. Yes. More life. Emotions are the beauty of our personalities, our life expressed, our inner soul open. The spice of life comes in small moments.
Going inward is often painful at first. Until we learn that we are safe to explore what we feel and we will be accepted and loved if we are so by ourselves. The spice of life is within us, the experiences we have are our perception.
So is our taste of food.
We can use spices and herbs to enhance our experience of the foods and it can be either gentle or more intense. We can also use them for healing. The heritage of spices and herbs for healing goes further back than our western well known medicine. Probably considered witchcraft in ancient days, it is considered New Age or strange by some now. But many find that adding herbs and spices to a meal can help not only enhance the experience of the food but can also enhance the food as your medicine.
Many herbs and spices are anti-inflammatory. Some are more heating and some are more cooling. Salt is a mineral so it is not in this category. Granted we need salt. But good quality sea salt. Not processed and refined salt. And even though we need it, a little bit still goes a long way. This is another one of those: less is more!
These are some of the 15 most used healing spices and herbs in our kitchen:
1. Basil can relieve gas and soothe stomach upsets and has a calming effect, which has been shown to help ease muscle spasms.
2. Cayenne pepper is a hot red powder made from tropical chili peppers. It contains alkaloid capsaicin, which relieves pain by blocking the chemicals that send pain messages to the brain. It perks up appetite, improves digestion and relieves gas, nausea, and indigestion. The herb can also break up phlegm to help prevent and treat coughs, colds and bronchitis.
3. Cinnamon has shown to help balance blood sugar and it has a tranquilizing effect that helps reduce anxiety and stress. It can also help kill a variety of illness causing bacteria, including the dreaded E.coli, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus.
4. Clove calms pain and is even endorsed by the FDA for tooth ache. Clove is one the spices that can improve blood sugar and insulin balance.
5. Dill can be been used to soothe the digestive tract and treat heartburn, colic and gas. Dill (and parsley) is rich in chlorophyll which is a good health agent...but also makes it useful in treating bad breath.
6. Fennel is known to ease bloating, gas pains, and digestive spasms in the small and large intestines. It can also reduce bad breath and body odor that comes from the intestines. For breast feeding women it can also increase the milk flow.
7. Garlic can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and as well help prevent blood clots. It therefore helps reduce the risk of developing atherosclerosis. Garlic is both an anti-inflammtory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral so it helps fight infections like the flu and colds. It has also shown to be effective against digestive ailments and diarrhea.
8. Ginger helps with nausea and motion sickness. Ginger also helps digestion by stimulating saliva flow, can relieve vomiting and ease pain from gas and diarrhea. It is anti-inflammatory and helps lower cholesterol. It might also be useful as a pain reliever.
9. Mint is an excellent stomach tonic to help with nausea and vomiting. It also helps digestion and calms stomach muscle spasms, relieves bloating, and can ease hiccups. Peppermint fights bacteria and viruses and can reduce spasms in the airways. Mint affects pain receptors making it useful in reducing headaches. Mint helps boost mental alertness as well...so have a mint tea instead of your coffee in the afternoon.
10. Oregano contains several compounds that can soothe coughs and has antibacterial properties to help reduce body odor. It helps un-knot the muscles in the digestive tract to relieve digestion and it is also one of the spices that helps lower blood pressure.
11. Parsley is a diuretic herb so it helps prevent kidney stones and bladder infections. It can also relieve bloating during menstruation. It is an effective breath freshener because it contains high levels of chlorophyll, also making it a high anti-oxidant choice.
12. Rosemary is high in antioxidants and is also antibacterial. Traditionally it is used to ease asthma and may also help ease breast pain.
13. Sage are both antiseptic and antibiotic, so it can help fight infections. Sage helps with symptoms of menopause, night sweats and hot-flashes. Because of its estrogenic action and tannins it can help against perspiration. Lab studies indicate that sage may boost insulin, making it a good herb for diabetics.
14. Thyme increases blood-flow to the skin and relaxes respiratory muscles which makes it helpful for treating bronchitis. It is also believed that the scent of thyme is a mood enhancer.
15. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties which helps many of our health issues today. It helps lower cholesterol and can soothe arthritis and other joint inflammation issues. It is also very high in antioxidants.