Listen Here:

Nature's Secrets: Spice Rack Natural Treasures     
I love to cook and I use a lot of spices, especially Asian and Korean. Not only do spices add unique and flavorful taste to your dishes, but by using spices you will likely use less salt and sugar, which is much healthier for you and your family. Spices also contain powerful nutrients that can protect you from illnesses and disease. Here are five of my favorites.

cinnamon-drsusanne   left photo: Have you ever seen such humongous sticks of cinnamon?!!


1) Ginger

This spicy herb has been used for thousands of years in Indian and Chinese medicine as an anti-inflammatory “tonic root”, and is now readily available fresh, dried and powdered, as well as in a juice and oil form. You may think fresh ginger is an ugly root, but appearances can be deceiving…it is so good for you, and you only need a little!

New studies are showing the power of ginger as a super antioxidant and anti-diabetic remedy. It reduces blood markers hemoglobin A1c, insulin and glucose levels. It is anti-inflammatory and is known to reduce the inflammatory markers including C-reactive protein!

Researchers also have found that ginger accumulates in the gastrointestinal tract, perhaps explaining why it works so well as a nausea remedy! It soothes nausea, vomiting and other gastrointestinal distress due to pregnancy, motion sickness and even chemotherapy.

Ginger is being studied for a possible protective role in cancer, cardiovascular function and other diseases as well.

Many people say it helps with congestion, phlegm and coughs.

Still others profess its effectiveness in reducing many types of pain (menstrual, arthritis, joint).

Studies have actually shown that in oil form, combined with orange and massaged into the skin, the use of ginger reduced short-term stiffness and knee pain.

2) Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a very common baking spice that has several significant health benefits. Plus it just tastes and smells delicious! There is a good deal of research relating to cinnamon, including a recent article published in 2014 for the National Center for Biotechnology Information: the research speaks to cinnamon as being a powerful antioxidant and antimicrobial; as well as helpful in lowering blood sugar and cholesterol.

Studies have shown that cinnamon regulates blood sugar, potentially lowering pre-diabetes risk. It can also lower cholesterol levels, and with its natural spicy sweet taste, it can help satisfy cravings for sweets without the need for additional sugar or artificial sweeteners.

Cinnamon is being studied in research laboratories relating to its apparent ability to inhibit the “tangling” of the protein, Tau, viewed as a hallmark symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. It is currently being evaluated in laboratory studies for Parkinson’s as well; it may offer a kind of neuron protection. So exciting.

Together Ginger and Cinnamon are the powerhouse of spices and I love them so much that made an informative video on the two and how to use them to make an ancient Korean drink called Soo Jung Gwa. You can go here to watch and get the recipe!

3) Oregano

Love this spice! Italian herbs are so flavorful and many are loaded with chemical compounds that decrease inflammation and promote good health. Mediterranean dishes, known to be healthy and reverse the aging process, use 5-10 times more dried herbs than we typically use in North America.

Maybe they know something that we don’t! Many of my patients grow oregano and rosemary at home, right in their kitchens! Fresh and organic!

Oregano is high in Vitamin K, which helps promote bone growth as well as maintain bone density. It’s also an anti-fungal, anti-viral and antimicrobial, in fact, You can consider it “nature’s antibiotic”. It can kill parasites, staph and even E. Coli infections. It is the active ingredient in Listerine!

Oregano has been studied as a possible treatment therapy for diabetes; it appears to inhibit an enzyme involved in insulin signaling, an enzyme that is also being targeted by drug companies studying diabetes.

I love Oregano Oil. I recommend the emulsified tablet form to take orally, although you can get this concentrated extract of oregano in liquid form or in gel caps.

It has been found to be an excellent gastrointestinal anti-fungal and shown to reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol, while maintaining the same overall cholesterol count.

Oh, and you can use a few drops of oregano oil in a vaporizer or bowl of hot water, and inhale it; to soothe passages, fend off bacteria and reduce coughs.

4) Cilantro

From the leaves of the coriander plant, cilantro looks like parsley, but its delicate leaves taste citrusy. I love adding it to dishes such as my crockpot Paleo dish, Cilantro Chicken Curry. Cilantro is packed with phytochemicals – strong antioxidants – as well as being incredibly nutrient-dense.

Cilantro has been around for thousands of years, and is even mentioned in the Old Testament! Nowadays, besides being a tasty spice, it is probably best known as a digestive aid and a means to lower blood sugar. It is called the “anti-diabetic” plant in parts of Europe, as it is low in saturated fats and cholesterol, and has been shown to lower blood sugar levels in animal studies.

As a digestive aid, it can settle digestive upset such as heartburn and indigestion, and have a cooling effect for spicy meals. So pair it with curry, like in my delicious chicken recipe!

5) Rosemary

Rosemary is a piney-scented plant in the mint family, and is a popular dry herb for cooking, as well as used topically for many health issues, including hair growth and muscle pain!

Studies have shown rosemary oil combined with a carrier oil such as grapeseed or jojoba, can be applied to ease itchy scalp as well as stimulate hair growth. People use rosemary oil topically for muscle pain and arthritis, too. The herb contains a powerful antioxidant called carnosic acid. Rosemary is being evaluated in laboratory research as one of many spices that could have some anti-cancer effect.

An interesting avenue of research utilizing rosemary is relating to using it as aromatherapy. There have been studies showing that while smelling the aroma of rosemary, a person will become more alert and have increased concentration. Bottom line is that many herbs and spices have been used for thousands of years to cure a variety of ailments, and there is a reason why this is so!

Plants can be healing. And as time goes by, I believe we will see more and more interest in using natural botanicals versus antibiotics and other drugs, to gain health benefits without the side effects and risks of more potent pharmaceuticals.

As with anything you put in your body, consider the source! Buy quality products and keep an eye on “Best Buy” dates, as some potency will be impacted by shelf time. Always talk with your doctor, especially if you have an underlying health condition or are on prescription medications.

And try growing your own spices right in your kitchen! So fresh, and you will be incented to use them more. Your taste buds and bodies will love you!