Monday, 6 October 2014

spice it up and herb it a little

Hello to all of you lovely people out there!!! Today I will be talking about spices and herbs. They may be a complete stranger for some of you and not so much for others. 
Since centuries ago chinese medicine and ayurveda practices engaged in the uses of herbs and spices in order to treat diseases. Both traditions, Ayurveda being the science of life and chinese medicine being the ancient doctrine balancing the yin and yang in our body believe herbs and spices to have major effects in us. For our lifestyle nowadays and the way western medicine has made us treat diseases, herbs and spices have practically lost their usage.
I'm sure many of you have your kitchen cupboards full of different herbs and you may not really know their usage or benefits or perhaps you have stumbled upon recipes that incorporate some spices you never heard of before.
So today we will be changing that :)

As a point to reflect on before we get started I wanted to share with you a couple of researches I found:
The famous Chinese physician Li Gao (Li Dongyuan; 1180-1251 AD) believed that most diseases that arise internally are linked to weakness of the stomach/spleen system. This system, first and foremost, involves the digestive processes. Li's most famous remedy, Ginseng and Astragalus Combination (Buzhong Yiqi Tang) has the property of improving digestive function, enhancing the nutritive status of the body, and treating a wide range of disorders.Similarly, in the Ayurvedic system, the Charaka , one of the principal contributors to the ancient art and science of Ayurveda states that digestive system problems are the root of disease. 

Let's get spicy then!
We will start with ginger, it is available year round in the produce section of your market and is in a root form.It has a long tradition of being very effective in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. In herbal medicine, ginger has been proven to promote the elimination of intestinal gas and to relax and sooth the intestinal tract. Modern scientific research has revealed that ginger possesses numerous therapeutic properties including antioxidant effects, an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, to improve the absorption and assimilation of essential nutrients in the body, to help overcome nausea...and so many more. Add it to your morning juice, to your stir fries or boil it in some water and drink it as a tea. I also recommend you buy organic for a cleaner you :)
What about turmeric? or curcumin as u might have heard it mention. It also comes in a root form from the curcuma and you will find it in the produce section of your supermarket too. If it is fresh be careful not to color your hands yellow!! use gloves when handling it!! Ayurvedic and Chinese  medicine looove turmeric and I personally do's benefits are endless. It has a peppery, bitter flavor and bonds magically with all curries. It is a huge anti-inflammatory agent helping people suffering from IBS or rheumatoid arthritis, improves liver function, lowers cholesterol.....inhibits cancer cell growth and metastases.... and so many more. Regarding the inhibit of cancer cell growth, a study published in september 2005, biochemical pharmacology stated,"Curcumin acts against transcription factors, which are like a master switch," said lead researcher, Bharat Aggarwal. "Transcription factors regulate all the genes needed for tumors to form. When we turn them off, we shut down some genes that are involved in the growth and invasion of cancer cells." Add some of this powerful root to your juices and smoothies, a small inch would sufis until you get used to the flavor, another way I personally love taking it is with the juice of three gooseberries first thing in the morning...ohh it gives you a clean fresh start of the day :) try also mixing the following either warm or cold: a cup of coconut milk, 1tsp of turmeric in powder form or grinder,  a pinch of cinnamon, half a teaspoon of vanilla extract and some raw honey to add some sweetness if desired...yuuuuummyyyy!!!!
Heard about Cayenne pepper? anti fungal, anti cold and flu, anti allergen, digestive aid, detox support, joint-pain reliever...and soo many more. Try sprinkling some on your soups or scrambled eggs in the morning or take it with some broth when down with the flu. 

Those are just three spices we have mentioned out of so many beneficial ones out there and didn't even get started with herbs hahahaha start buying fresh herbs at your local grocery store, choose organic for a cleaner you. Try basil which has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial characteristics and is also a rich source of magnesium. Cilantro (coriander) good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium for example is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure and Iron is essential for red blood cell production. Try Dill which contains iron and calcium and studies suggest its oils may help neutralize carcinogens. Or maybe Sage which contains acids that function as antioxidants. Funny enough the term "wise sage" may have some truth as research suggests it may be a memory enhancer.
Sprinkle them on pastas and salads, use them when cooking fish in the oven, add to your green juices or stir fries. They smell delicious and enhance food flavors so nicely!

Hoping you learned something new today as I do every day and you enjoyed reading me. Try incorporating at least one of these elements in your daily routines and keep it up to notice all the goodness!!!

Wishing you well!! :)

By Rocio Arenas

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