There are many spices for health and digestion sitting in the pantry or on your spice rack. You may not realize these spices have medicinal properties, but you can use them to support digestive health. This isn’t just kitchen wisdom or folktales. Relevant scientific evidence exists to support the efficacy of these spices for digestive health. According to the National Institute of Health, numerous spices benefit digestive health.
Culinary Medicine Made Easy
Most common spices promote digestive health in various ways. The reason for their medicinal properties is the volatile oils contained in the various seeds, leaves, and roots we use as spices. The volatile oils are aromatic, meaning they either dissolve or evaporate easily. Aromatic oils can soothe and stimulate healthy digestion by supporting tone of smooth muscle in our digestive organs.
Garlic is an example of a potent spice with potent aromatic oils. Medicinally, it is used to support physical health during times of infections. Other spices are used for digestive health as well. For example, the reason for the heavy use of spices in Asian and South American cooking is because it promotes healthy digestion and creates wonderful flavors simultaneously.
The blanket answer to this question is: All of them. However, some stand out as most commonly used and each has a different effect. Taking a look at some of these spices and their effects on digestive health will provide some clarity:
- Cumin: This spice comes from seeds and is usually found as a ground powder. Over the past decade, this handy remedy has gained immense popularity in health food and supplement stores. According to research by the National Institute of Health, cumin can soothe intestinal spasms while promoting proper movement of the bowels. It is commonly used in South American and Indian cooking.
- Fennel Seed: This seed is sold both whole and as a powder. It can be used to make a tea, which soothes colic symptoms in babies. Drinking fennel tea after meals ensures healthy bowel movements. Most importantly, it is an excellent remedy for digestive spasms and gas.
- Ginger: This root adds a slightly spicy and strongly aromatic quality to foods. You can find it as a whole, fresh root, as a powder, in pills, and ready-to-go tea bags. It stimulates the digestive system to release proper enzymes and acids to digest food more efficiently. As a tea, it works well for nausea and morning sickness.
- Black Pepper: So commonly used as a seasoning, black pepper stimulates healthy digestion and enhances nutrient absorption. An extract of black pepper is used in many dietary supplements to improve absorption of herbs and vitamins.
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Spices Tackle Parasites
When it comes to the digestive system, it is generally assumed that we all have some kind of parasites in our intestines. Normally, this is kept under control by the immune system and a healthy diet. However, using parasite-killing spices can greatly improve digestive well-being.
- Oregano: This powerful herb from the cupboard not only supports a healthy immune system, but parasites hate it. Oregano can be used as a tea to chase out parasites and even kill many of them. It is available as extracted oil for more intensive use.
- Thyme: Like oregano, thyme is a potent germ fighter with anti-parasitic qualities.
- Garlic: A potent parasite killer, garlic can be incorporated into any meal or even eaten fresh for more potent healing power.
- Cloves: Parasites dislike cloves almost as much as oregano. You will find it in virtually every digestive support supplement on the shelves of health food stores. It also helps the intestines to clear out waste more efficiently.
All spices have beneficial effects on digestive health. Spicy peppers have been shown by the CDC to calm symptoms of many digestive disorders. Turmeric and coriander can be used in cooking to support healthy bowel movements. It is wonderful how nature has provided us with so many plants and their various parts to help us heal and stay healthy while making our culinary creations more delightful.