An Indian kitchen is always considered incomplete without spices. Spices are always incorporated in Indian cuisine.
Ayurveda also gives significance and importance to spices in digestion and assimilation of food and thus contributes in maintaining a healthy and balanced digestive fire (Agni). If foods which are heavy in nature, the use of spices help in eliminating toxins and preventing blockade in the various body channels. Certain spices are also useful in removing toxins from the body.
Top 5 Ayurvedic spices used in India and Indian cuisine are:
Cinnamon is one of the oldest known spices. The bark of the tree Cinnamomum zeylanicum is dried and rolled into sticks which is used as a spice. An essential oil called cinnamonaldehyde gives the spice its characteristic aroma and flavor.
It has a pungent and sweet taste, and is often recommended for people with Kapha constitution. The various medicinal uses attributed to cinnamon are:
It is a blood alterative, stimulant and analgesic.
- It is used in the treatment of digestive system disorders such as dyspepsia, abdominal pain, diarrhea, colitis, abdominal colic etc.
- It is used in enteric fever treatment
- It is used in the treatment of cough, asthma, tuberculosis, cold headache, fever (flu like symptoms), and in removing phlegm in respiratory channels
- It is used for cardiac weakness, blood dyscrasias, and infective diseases of the respiratory tract.
- It also has anti-clotting property.
- It is used in atonic uterus, in amenorrhea and erectile dysfunction
- It is great source of magnesium, iron, calcium and fiber.
A few herbal home remedies using cinnamon are:
- Half teaspoon of cinnamon powder taken daily reduces cholesterol.
- Smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory.
- It can be used as a mouth refresher and gives strength to gums
- A small piece of cinnamon bark can be chewed to prevent nausea and vomiting
- Cinnamon oil should be applied on skin to clean and heal a tubercular ulcer
Coriander is a well-known and greatly used aromatic spice in Indian cuisine. Coriander has been used as a flavoring agent and medicinal plant since ancient times. It is rich in potassium, magnesium and fiber.
The traditional Ayurvedic medicine considers coriander or dhaniya to have various medicinal properties such as diuretic, antipyretic, stomachic, aphrodisiac, stimulant, laxative and anthelmintic. In ancient Ayurvedic text, Sushruta, coriander is documented to be consumed raw and in undried form for digestion, demulcent and to relieve burning sensations of the skin. It also is an appetite stimulant and antispasmodic. Regular consumption boosts immunity. It stimulates insulin production and prevents diabetes.
Therapeutic uses of coriander are in the treatment for:
- Vomiting and cough
- Hepatitis C
- Sore throat
- Menstrual disorders
- Eye problems
- Skin disorders
- Oral inflammations
- High cholesterol
A few herbal home remedies of coriander are:
- A paste of coriander leaves applied in the forehead and temples gives a quick relief from headaches.
- Ground a handful of coriander leaves and chew thoroughly 2-3 times a day for a few days to cure mouth oral ulcers.
- Approximately 25 coriander seeds are taken, powdered and boiled them in a glass of water and reduced the volume to half, cool and add sugar. This preparation taken regularly gives relief from menstrual pain.
- A paste of thoroughly washed coriander leaf juice and powdered cumin seeds mixed in water with salt is an effective remedy for indigestion.
Garlic or lahsun is one of the very ancient spices used in Ayurveda. The benefits of garlic are also recorded in sushruta. The tastes attributed to garlic in Ayurveda are sweet, salt, pungent, bitter, and astringent.
The medicinal uses of garlic in Ayurveda are:
- It is useful in heart diseases and lowers cholesterol.
- Raw garlic has been used in a number of gastrointestinal ailments such as stomach pain, bloating, indigestion, and constipation.
- It is used in the treatment of fractures and strengthening of bones.
- It is useful in raw form in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis
- It improves voice quality
- It is useful in the treatment of cough and cold
- It is also useful in skin disorders
- It is rich in Sulphur and hence considered a natural antibiotic.
A few herbal home remedies utilizing garlic are:
- Drink milk in which cut and sliced pieces of garlic are cooked for relief from gastric problems.
- Garlic should always be chopped and minced and kept for 15 minutes before using for food preparation for maximum benefit.
Adrak or ginger is one of the most ancient and revered medicine of ancient India. It is an excellent spice. There are a number of medicinal properties attributed to ginger in ancient Ayurveda. It has been used for:
- Ginger is useful in treating chronic inflammation.
- It helps in protecting and healing the gut
- It helps relieving nausea and is used in motion or air sickness.
- It is used therapeutically for joint pains
- It is effective against a number of viruses
A few herbal remedies of ginger are:
- Eat raw ginger or two or three slices of ginger dipped in a little salt and lime juice and take them before meal for benefits in digestion.
- Mix ginger with hot water to make a paste, spread on gauze, allowed to soak in and apply to skin and painful areas for a few minutes.
- Drinking ginger in water, first thing in the morning is good for diabetes.
- Two tsp of fresh ginger in hot water taken several times a day is also a good remedy for cold and flu symptoms, sore throat, and headaches. Commercial ginger tea also seems to help in this respect.
Haldi or Indian saffron is considered by most of the Ayurvedic physicians as one of the best herbs in India which is endowed with flavoring properties as well as remedial properties in purifying blood and treating skin diseases.
According to Ayurveda, it is pungent and warm and pacifies Kapha and Vata. It is also a bitter and astringent and hence also pacifies the Pitta Dosha. Its constitution is made up of 70% carbohydrates which lends it sweetness.
Medicinally, it is useful in the treatment of heart, liver, lungs and skin. Traditionally turmeric is considered to be analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-allergic, antioxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, appetizer, astringent, cardiovascular, carminative, digestive, diuretic, stimulant, and vulnerary. Therapeutic uses of turmeric can be enumerated as:
- It is recommended for epilepsy and bleeding disorders.
- It is also useful in the treatment of skin diseases.
- Treatment of AIDS/HIV
- Treatment of cancer
- Food poisoning
- Gall stones
- Poor circulation
- Staphylococcus infection
- Wound healing
- Urinary diseases
- External ulcers
It helps in the regulation of female reproductive system functioning and purification of uterus and breast milk. In men it is known to purify and build semen.
It also decreases mucus in the throat, watery discharges like leucorrhea, and any pus in the eyes, ears or wounds.
A few home remedies involving turmeric are:
- Take 1 tsp of turmeric juice mixed with honey daily in anemia.
- Drink 1 cup of warm milk mixed with 1 tsp of turmeric for asthma
- 1 tsp of turmeric mixed with 1 tsp of aloe gel applied on affected area is good for burns
- A paste of turmeric applied on facial skin, and washed off on drying. When the yellow tinge left on skin is washed with a paste of chickpea flour and oil in the morning, skin complexion is enhanced.
- ½ to 1 tsp of turmeric taken thrice a day is good for diabetic patients.
- A paste of 1 tsp of turmeric and 2 tsp of ginger made in water, spread on a cloth and applied on affected area and bandaged is a remedy for pain.
Make these 5 spices a daily part of your eating habits and see the benefits.
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