Monthly Archives: July 2014

Cloves; Curbing Coughs, Colds, and Indigestion for 2000 years

Cloves

Cloves” by Elanadan licensed under CC by 2.0

                Although relatively small in size, cloves contain a compact variety of healthy benefits alongside their signature aromatic and sweet taste. Native to the Spice Islands of Indonesia, they have been consumed in Asia for over two thousand years, growing to popularity in Europe when it was discovered they mask the poor taste of poorly preserved foods. Other than the taste, cloves have been known to improve digestion, reduce inflammation, help combat upper respiratory infections, and even help with minor tooth aches.

                Cloves contain a variety of active compounds that allow it to serve this variety of purposes. One of the compounds called eugenol combines with a few other things in cloves to create a minor anesthesiac, which allows it to temporarily help toothaches when rubbed directly on the pain. Many times you’ll find clove oil in a lot of over the counter sore throat sprays and mouthwashes. Additionally, it serves as an anti-inflammatory, helping alleviate sore throats as well as slight improvements to arthritis. Often times when sick, people would brew clove tea, which served to aid the sore throat and act as an expectorant (helps you cough up phlegm).

                When added to food, clove works great to aid the digestive system as well as provide a few different essential nutrients. Some studies indicate that cloves help to smooth out the greater intestinal tract, which helps out a variety of digestion issues. Concerning nutrition, consuming 2 tsp of cloves would provide you with all the manganese you need for the day, as well as small amounts of vitamin K, fiber, iron, calcium, and magnesium.

                Overall, although cloves doesn’t have the most over-arching of health benefits, it does serve a few niche purposes quite well, as well as providing that distinct flavor many know and love. Whether you want a home remedy tea for a cold, a bit of temporary aid for that annoying toothache, or just get some extra nutrients in from what you eat, cloves works out quite well.

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Cinnamon: The Spice Once Worth its Weight in Gold

               Cinnamon, a spice that was once worth its weight in gold, was highly valued for more reasons than just its taste. While it does have spectacular flavoring qualities, it also serves a variety of other properties, ranging from food preservatives to medicinal. Although its reach of benefits isn’t expansive as some of the other spices we’ve covered, what benefits it does give are no less great.

                With a small addition of cinnamon to your diet, you could see improvement in lowered cholesterol, help stabilize your blood sugar (good for losing weight or for the type 2 diabetics out there), and may reduce the growth of leukemia and lymphoma cells. Furthermore, a mixture of cinnamon and honey is often used to relieve arthritic pain, and many found cinnamon to be an effective natural remedy for headaches and migraines.

                Concerning food and preserving it, cinnamon is known to be antifungal, fighting things like the canida fungus. Cinnamon also fights the E. coli bacteria in unpasteurized juices, saving you from some awkward health problems. Additionally, cinnamon inhibits bacterial growth and food spoilage, making it work well as a natural preservative. It is easy to see why when there was a lot less cinnamon in the world it was worth its weight in gold.

                However, despite how amazing cinnamon is, it has known to be mildly toxic in very large doses, so don’t start taking it by the spoonful, or competing in the infamous cinnamon challenge. That said, we hope you will have learned something new about cinnamon and gained a new appreciation for the good things that can come from good flavor.

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Some Sage Advice: Eat Sage for Life

The well-known softly sweet spice known to many as sage is useful in many more ways than just as a topping for omelets or pizza. Salvia officinali contains many oils and flavonoids, as well as the popular rosmarinic acid (named after rosemary). With this arsenal of health tools at its disposal, sage can help reduce inflammation, counteract free radicals with antioxidants, and increase brain function. For a very long time sage has been well known as a spectacular spice and a variety of research done on Sage serves to re-affirm that opinion.

One of the big health points for many herbs is whether it has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Sage, luckily enough, has both. The phenolic acid it contains (with rosmarinic acid being the most well-known in that group) aids many different inflammatory conditions by inhibiting the molecules that provoke the inflammation reaction.  Sage is a recommended regular addition to the diet of anyone suffering from inflammatory conditions like arthritis, asthma, or atherosclerosis (when plaque builds up inside your arteries). In concert with this, the anti-oxidants can work to help prevent a lot of oxygen-based damage to the cells of a body, providing an overall healthier system.

What truly makes Sage stands out amongst its spicy counterparts is its ability to increase brain function. Sage has long been known as an outstanding memory enhancer, now with scientifically controlled tests to prove it. Within the controlled tests, participants given sage had significantly better short term memory than participants given a placebo spice. Furthermore, Sage contains active compounds very similar to those found in medicine for Alzheimer’s disease.

Sage has been around and utilized for thousands of years and hopefully for millennia to come. Between its health benefits, sweet taste, and its extraordinary ability to help better brain function, Sage is a worthy addition to any diet. 

 

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