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  • Some Spices

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    A lot of people don't know that spices have medicinal and healing properties. Each spice can have many different benefits, so below Iíve compiled a list of popular spices and their main benefits. In Ayurveda, it's very important to cook with spices. You can use certain spices, such as cumin/coriander/turmeric in hot water and drink it along with your meal to help promote digestion. Or you, can make yogi tea with the sweeter spices (cinnamon, clove, cardamom). Please note that spices from grocery stores spices racks are often less fresh and potent from those of herbal or ayurvedic stores.

    Anise (Aniseed): Anise comes from the Parsley family, believe it or not. The Romans used to bake anise into a cake, which they would consume at meal times. This worked out perfectly because anise is known to prevent indigestion from overeating. These days, it is more popularly known as one of the key ingredients in Ricard, a yellowish liqueur drunk after meals. Anise helps stimulate the glands, especially for women. It regulates estrogen and can even improve the potency of breast milk (though it is not a spice to take while you're pregnant). Anise also breaks up the mucus in your digestive system and is an all-around great spice for the lungs. It can help improve asthma, bronchitis, coughing an even emphysema. Finally, anise is a stimulator: brain, heart, liver, lungs, you name it! Anise decreases Vata and Kapha, increases Pitta.
    Quick tip: Anise oil works really well in getting rid of head lice.

    Cardamom: Cardamom works on both the digestive system (relieves gas, acidity and cramping) and respiratory system (it increases blood flow to the lungs) It's also a good mind stimulator and brings mental clarity. It is said to break down kidney and gallbladder stones, as well as treat urinary tract infections. Finally, cardamom is a good spice to take for all-around weakness or if you feel tired and mentally depleted. Cardamom balances all three doshas.
    Quick Tip: Buy cardamom pods and use the back of a spoon to crush them open. This will increase the flavor of the spice, because cardamom is known to lose its freshness more rapidly than other spices.

    Cinnamon: Cinnamon is one of the spices that propelled world exploration and trade. Like anise, it is not good for pregnant women to take. But it is good for menstrual symptoms, as it calms the stomach and for menopause. Cinnamon is anti-bacterial and can suppress E. coli and excess candida (good for yeast infections too). Finally cinnamon is also a natural food preservative. Thatís probably why they use it in cakes! Cinnamon decreases Vata and Kapha, increases Pitta.
    Quick tip: Cinnamon is anti-fungal and can be used to treat athlete's foot!
    New Age quick tip: Cinnamon is linked with attracting money, so you can sprinkle this powder over the bills in your wallet. Trust me, i have been handed a cinnamon encrusted bill before!

    Cloves: Clove is great for the teeth. It disinfects and anesthetizes, so dentists often use it. But clove can also be an irritant because of the oils inside the spice. Never take too much clove for too long, as it can irritate the stomach. Taken in moderation, clove is good for stomach problems such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It is also the strongest germicidal of all herbs and it is good for blood circulation. Clove decreases Kapha, increases Vata and Pitta (rajasic).
    Quick tip: Clove is a great mosquito and moth repellent!

    Coriander: Coriander is great for digestion, detoxing and enhancing your natural defenses, especially against allergens. It also has a multitude of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin B complex, iron, phosphorus, calcium and anti-oxidants. Plus, it adds so much flavor to dishes! Coriander balances all three doshas.
    Quick tip: Coriander mixed with water makes an excellent eyewash.

    Cumin: Cumin is a cleansing spice and helps the liver be more active. It allows oxygen to pervade the blood stream and purifies the blood. Cumin is anti-carcinogenic, aids digestions and also contains a multitude of vitamins and minerals. It was used by Egyptians to embalm Pharaohs and in the Middle Ages, people believed cumin has the power to keep lovers from straying. It balances all doshas.
    Quick tip: Cumin will help you with insomnia. It's both a stimulant and a relaxer, but the oils in cumin have a tranquilizing effect.

    Fennel: Fennel improves digestions and eliminates gas, but it also helps with all kinds of stomach-related issues such as bloating, cramping, nausea, hernia, abdominal pain, etc. It's a good source of vitamin A and clears mucus from the liver and lungs. It also improves the quantity and quality of breast milk. Fennel is the most sattvic spice. It balances all three doshas.
    Quick tip: Fennel is an antidote to poisonous mushrooms!

    Fenugreek: Fenugreek is a rejuvenative herb that promotes longevity. It's the oldest known medicinal herb. Fenugreek is also used to lower blood sugar and regulate insulin, thus helpful in treating diabetes. Fenugreek dissolves hardened accumulated mucus and phlegm, especially for those who often indulge in cheese or dairy in general. Because it gets rid of mucous, it helps with disease in general and aids the body to drain the lymphatic system and promotes blood circulation. A mucus-less body is a huge step toward a healthy body. It is not to be used while pregnant (may lead to miscarriage). Fenugreek decreases Vata and Kapha, increases Pitta.
    Quick tip: Dried Fenugreek leaves can act as an insect repellent in your food pantry.

    Licorice Root: Believe it or not, Licorice is 50 times sweeter than sugarcane. In European pharmacies, you can purchase pieces of licorice root to chew on and help get rid of bad habits, such as smoking, biting your fingernails or snacking. Licorice is great for arthritis, liver detoxing and coughing. It normalizes the menstrual cycle, quenches thirst and acts as a natural hormone similar to cortisone. It is also excellent for the heart, the throat (voice) and to combat acidity. It purifies the blood, mixes well with ginger to combat colds and coughs, improves hair, skin, eyes. Do not use this spice while pregnant. Contrary to popular belief, licorice is not used in licorice candy (they use anise oil). Licorice decreases Vata and Pitta, but can increase Kapha if used long term.
    Quick tip: Spiritually, licorice is said to promote contentment and harmony.

    Nutmeg: Nutmeg is a great brain tonic. It helps with stress and mental exhaustion, while stimulating the brain and promoting concentration. But watch out, as nutmeg is also a strong sedative. Nutmeg is great for muscle and joint pain. It's also great for mental disorders such as anxiety and depression, as well as nervousness.
    Quick tip: Sprinkle nutmeg in warm milk and drink it to help fall asleep. Nutmeg also helps improve the quality of your dreams!

    Black Pepper: Pepper is a powerful anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial.
    Black Pepper helps the healing properties of other herbs navigate toward different parts of the body. It is good for a variety of ailments, including stomach worms, skin eruptions, toothaches, and throat problems. It also helps increase the flow of digestive enzymes. Pepper decreases Vata and Kapha, increases Pitta.
    Quick tip: Heating black pepper enhances its healing properties.

    Turmeric: Turmeric is the healing herb by excellence. Besides being a very powerful anti-oxidant. it is purifying for the lungs, the liver and heart. Often turmeric is used in face packs because it is excellent for the skin. Just be aware that this bright yellow powder is also a powerful dye and can turn your face and pillows yellow if you use too much of it! It is advised to mix it with milk to wash the face. Turmeric is also anti-carcinogenic (especially bowel and colon cancer) and can help reduce brain inflammation that causes Alzheimer's. Turmeric balances all three doshas.
    Quick Tip: Turmeric is excellent for clearing and cleaning the chakras.
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