The medicinal properties of herbs and spices have been used for centuries long before they were another ingredient in your latest recipe, but their healing superpowers shouldn’t be underestimated. From anti-aging to stress-busting, gut-healing to energy-boosting, their anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties help you to live healthier for longer. Let us guide you through the super league of herbs and spices.
Healing herbs & super spices
First, a science lesson: nutrition educator, chef, and founder of The Eggcellent Breakfast Co, Loena Rodgers, tells us what makes herbs and spices so magical. “Herbs are made from the leaves of the plants, and spices are made from the plant’s accents such as its roots, rhizomes, stems, bark, flowers, fruits, and seeds of plants.
“With the natural bioactive compounds, these herbs and spices penetrate your body and can expedite its healing little by little when you take them. It aims to bring your body back to its most natural state called “homeostasis”, aka your body’s healthiest state.”
The sunshine spice, turmeric, is the gold standard of healing herbs – now used in everything from cooking to healing and beautifying. As an Ayurvedic favorite, it provides powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and is antimicrobial, antibacterial, and loaded with antioxidants, thanks to its high levels of curcumin. So what does this mean for your health?
It can help to remove harmful free radicals which can damage otherwise healthy cells resulting in premature aging, plus has collagen-boosting properties. This, paired with its calming and detoxifying nature means glowing, healthy, age-defying skin. It can even help to heal wounds, prevent breakouts (and lessen active ones), fight eczema and psoriasis, reduce acne scarring, and brighten dark circles – the all-round glow factor!
With inflammation being the leading cause of many of our modern illnesses and diseases, it’s a powerhouse for healing including reducing arthritis pain, easing depression, and even preventing and treating Alzheimer’s and some cancers. Turmeric isn’t easily absorbed by the body, but pairing it with a sprinkling of black pepper increases the chance of it being absorbed easily to gain all its juicy benefits. Why not swap your daily caffeine fix for a delicious, frothy turmeric latte blend for a golden boost of goodness?
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Known as the “Prince of Herbs” in Ayurveda (an ancient holistic healing way of life), Ashwagandha is known for its balancing and regenerative powers. Its wide-ranging health benefits make it the ideal herb to boost general health and vitality. As an adaptogen, it helps your body to manage stress caused by a hormone imbalance.
“In a world where it is near impossible to completely eradicate stress, ashwagandha is incredibly useful, as it increases our bodies resilience towards it, thus reducing these knock-on effects that cause such widespread damage in the body,” says Lily Canetty-Clark at Wunder Workshop.
Chronic stress – caused by lack of sleep, and feeling like you can’t switch off with increased pressure at work and social media – can often leave us feeling depleted. Ashwagandha can help us to cope with these modern-day pressures. It’s been proven to reduce inflammation, oxidative stress (which can cause premature aging) with strong antioxidant properties. It can also boost brain function including memory, and lower blood sugar and cortisol levels, which could reduce anxiety and depression.
Struggling with procrastination or focus lately? Try adding ashwagandha to your diet for an increase in energy and improved concentration levels. Its ability to stabilize the adrenal and thyroid glands suggests that Ashwagandha can even regulate reproductive health and metabolic function to boost sex drive, improve fertility in men and help to increase muscle size and strength – an all-over power-up for your mind and body.
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Known to fight diabetes and balance blood sugar levels, this sweet spice, traditionally associated with Christmas, should be a staple in our food cupboard all year round. Antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties mean it can detoxify your body of any nasties. It also fights inflammation and oxidation against external aggressors like UV rays, pollution, and blue light that can damage cells and cause premature aging.
As a probiotic, it’s good for your gut too. It can help ease any discomfort from digestive issues and boost your immune system. With your gut now considered your ‘second brain’ by experts, it’s worth looking after it!
The sweetness of cinnamon means that you can add it to dishes to sweeten them up in place of refined sugars – a much healthier alternative! Try sprinkling some on your oatmeal or pancakes for a sweet hit that won’t cause your blood sugar levels to spike.
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Look to spicy ginger to soothe and calm an upset stomach including menstrual pain, morning sickness, and motion sickness. As a prebiotic, it reduces feelings of nausea, supports your digestion, and with 70% of your immune system residing in your gut, it also helps to boost immunity. The B6 vitamins and vitamin C in ginger give your body a boost to protect against illness and disease.
Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties mean it’s also great for reducing pain, especially for sore muscles, and even preventing long-term health conditions. Just like our other toxin-fighting herbs, it helps to ward off bad bacteria and protect against disease. Healing experts advise sipping warm ginger tea or tonic first thing in the morning to get your digestion off to a healthy start.
Garlic has been used for centuries for its immune-boosting medicinal properties. It’s full of nutrients like manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, selenium, and fiber, for protection against the common cold and flu.
It can boost heart health by lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol, and in turn, prevent heart attacks, heart disease, and strokes. On top of that, oxidative stress from free radicals can cause premature aging. As an antioxidant, garlic fights these aggressors helping you to look younger, and stay healthier for longer. The combination of these can even go on to help prevent brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The sulfurs in garlic (mainly allicillin) produced when you cut, crush, or chop it could protect organs against heavy metal toxicity. Adding this pungent herb to recipes can transform the flavor too. Add it to your next meal to protect against more than vampires!
6. Green Tea
Green tea is one of the healthiest drinks you can add to your diet for its fat-burning, antioxidant-fighting, focus-enhancing properties. The compounds like ECEG contain powerful antioxidants to protect against the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage like premature aging and fighting bad bacteria in the mouth for better oral health. Younger-looking skin and fresh breath? Yes, please! Its bioactive compounds can even protect against diseases like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, strokes, and brain disorders.
Containing caffeine, green tea keeps you alert, but it can also help with brain function. What makes green tea special, however, is its star component, the amino acid l-theanine. The synergistic effects of caffeine and l-theanine make the ultimate tag team helping to increase concentration and reduce anxiety. The smaller amount of caffeine in green tea compared to coffee, along with l-theanine, means that you gain from a boost in productivity without the crash! Try sipping it with a slice of lemon or sprig of fresh mint to enhance its flavor.
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7. Raspberry Leaf
Finally, a lesser-known herb of the bunch, raspberry leaf, can help to ease menstrual pain, and boost cellular processes and immunity. Red raspberry leaves are full of a compound called fragarine. It works to inhibit uterine activity and tighten the pelvic region. This, along with the magnesium it contains, strengthens the walls of the uterus and makes cramps less painful, but is also good for women preparing for pregnancy.
It contains calcium and antioxidants meaning it eliminates harmful toxins from the body to support overall health. It’s also a great source of potassium, known for boosting heart health by reducing high blood pressure. It can ease abdominal bloating with its diuretic properties and provide a source of iron for those with deficiencies. Try a spoonful of the fluffy stuff or a raspberry leaf tea one to three times per day to ease cramps.
Vitality, Wellbeing & Hormonal Balance
Ancient healing for modern times
Whether you’re taking a sip of herbal tea, spicing up your recipes, or sprinkling over your smoothies, adding a touch of natural healing from herbs and spices could be the remedy you’ve been missing to ease pain and boost energy now, and extend your general health and wellbeing for the future.