Spices and Herbs

A spice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark, or vegetative substance primarily used for flavoring, coloring or preserving food. Because they tend to have strong flavors and are used in small quantities, spices tend to add few calories to food, even though many spices, especially those made from seeds, contain high portions of fat, protein, and carbohydrate by weight. Many spices, however, can contribute significant portions of micronutrients to the diet. For example, a teaspoon of paprika contains about 1133 IU of Vitamin A, which is over 20% of the recommended daily allowance specified by the US FDA. When used in larger quantity, spices can also contribute a substantial amount of minerals, including iron, magnesium, calcium, and many others, to the diet. Most herbs and spices have substantial antioxidant activity, owing primarily to phenolic compounds, especially flavonoids, which influence nutrition through many pathways, including affecting the absorption of other nutrients. The antioxidants also can act as natural preservatives, preventing or slowing the spoilage of food, leading to a higher nutritional content in stored food.

In general use, herbs are any plants used for flavoring, food, medicine, or perfume. Culinary use typically distinguishes herbs as referring to the leafy green parts of a plant (either fresh or dried), from a spice, a product from another part of the plant (usually dried), including seeds, berries, bark, roots and fruits. Plants contain phytochemicals that have effects on the body. There may be some effects when consumed in the small levels that typify culinary “spicing”, and some herbs are toxic in larger quantities. For instance, some types of herbal extract, such as the extract of St. John’s-wort (Hypericum perforatum) or of kava (Piper methysticum) can be used for medical purposes to relieve depression and stress. However, large amounts of these herbs may lead to toxic overload that may involve complications, some of a serious nature, and should be used with caution. One herb-like substance, called Shilajit, may actually help lower blood glucose levels which is especially important for those suffering from diabetes. Herbs have long been used as the basis of traditional Chinese herbal medicine, with usage dating as far back as the first century CE and far before. Medicinal use of herbs in Western cultures has its roots in the Hippocratic (Greek) elemental healing system, based on a quaternary elemental healing metaphor. Modern pharmaceuticals had their origins in crude herbal medicines, and to this day, some drugs are still extracted as fractionate/isolate compounds from raw herbs and then purified to meet pharmaceutical standards.

Essential Oils

A Guide from A to Z Each one sort of vital Essential Oil has its own restorative advantages. Lavender serves to discharge stress, peppermint is a characteristic energizer and so on. The more an individual has a decision of a few fundamental oils it is much more troublesome for them to pick the privilege of it. To organize …

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Overview: Turmeric, Curcuma longa, is native to Southern Asia, and is mostly grown in India. The Roots and Bulbs of Turmeric are used in medicine, and are available as a Capsule, Fluid Extract, or as a Tincture (UMMC). Turmeric is also known as Indian Saffron, Curcumin, and Jiang Huang. It has Circuminoids, which have Antioxidant …

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Overview: Marshmallow is found naturally in the marshes of Europe. The marshmallow plant has been used for hundreds of years for medicinal purposes because of its natural compounds such as amino acids, selenium and vitamins (Hughes). Benefits: Marshmallow is a soothing herb that is often used to treat gastrointestinal ailments as well as irritations in …

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Overview: Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia) is commonly known for its sweet smell that is often associated with different types of perfumes and oils. (UMMC, 2012) Benefits: Most of lavender’s beneficial effects come from eucalyptol. (Hajhashemi, 2000) Eucalyptol decreases the rate of central nervous system, which makes it a good drug for treating patients with Insomnia. By …

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Overview: Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices known to man in the world. The benefits of cinnamon have been documents from as early as 2700 B.C. on the continents of Asia, Europe, and Africa. There are two types of cinnamon: Ceylon and Cassia which is Chinese. Cinnamon has many health benefits ranging from anti-clotting …

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Overview: Cilantro is from the leaves of the coriander plant; cilantro has a strong health supporting reputation and is high on the list of healing spices. All over the world the effects of cilantro are known; in parts of Europe cilantro is known as the anit-diabetic plant while in India cilantro has been used for …

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Cayenne Pepper

Overview: Cayenne pepper is part of the Capsicum annuum plant family. Capsaicin is the active compound in cayenne pepper that is responsible for a majority of its health effects. Capsaicin has been found to relieve pain by reducing substance P which is found at nerve endings. Substance P is involved in transmitting neurologic and arthritic …

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Black Pepper

Overview: Black pepper is one of the most common spices used around the world. It not only adds flavor to a variety of foods but it also aids in digestion due to the active compound piperine (Le Blanc). Black pepper is also known as black pepper oil, Brazilian black pepper, pink pepper, red pepper and …

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