Interested in spicing up your health?

Healthy Herbs, Garlic, and Ginger Root on a Tray

Last week I shared the not so good things about conventional spices and some things to be aware of when purchasing spices and blends from the store or better yet buy handcrafted blends from a trusted source. This week I’d like to dive into some herbs and spices that are beneficial. Interested in spicing up your health?

Let’s look at some of my favorites. We will also explore how this benefits you and some fun ways in which to use them.

Cayenne Pepper and the heat factor in chilies is brought on by capsaicin, a substance that makes peppers hot. Highly therapeutic, the substance helps relieve aches and soreness. It’s even an active ingredient in some over-the-counter pain relieving creams. Other medical benefits include improved circulation, heart health and helping fight prostate cancer and ulcers. It may lower the risk of skin and colon cancers; studies show it also helps people eat fewer calories. Try hot pepper on pizza or in pasta adds a spicy kick to foods like vegetables, tuna and turkey.

Fennel dates to the times of the Ancient Greeks. Fennel is high in calcium, which is essential for the healthy growth of bones and teeth and rich in niacin, which helps to turn food into energy. Fennel is also high in vitamin C, which helps to promote a strong immune system and is an excellent source of dietary fiber and iron, which help to keep your metabolism and digestive tract running smoothly. Fennel is also a natural appetite suppressant and can also help detoxify and exfoliate the skin. This peppery plant can be served raw or cooked, but the highest nutritional value comes from consuming fennel leaves raw in salads. It can also be steamed with other greens or used in stir fry and fish recipes.

Cinnamon comes from the bark of a tropical evergreen tree and has one of the highest antioxidant values of any spice. The spice has been shown to reduce inflammation, lower blood sugar and blood triglyceride levels, alleviate nausea and increase sensitivity to insulin as an aid in fat burning. It’s also a good source of manganese, iron and calcium. Cinnamon also kills bacteria, so the next time you get a cut, you can sprinkle the spice on the wound. Just 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon daily lowers blood sugar, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides in people with type 2 diabetes. While cinnamon is an incredibly healthy and nutritious spice, the most common uses are coffee, cookies, muffins and desserts. But there are healthier ways to reap the benefits of this magical spice: pour it over oatmeal, yogurt, applesauce or cottage cheese, stir it into peanut butter or protein shakes and sprinkle it on sweet potatoes or carrots.

Ginger in its whole form is a tree root. This underground stem is excellent for treating upset stomachs, gas and bloating, sore throats and colds in addition to other conditions, such as arthritis and motion sickness. Ginger can stop nausea and may also relieve heartburn and bloating. This spice can help lower your cholesterol and blood pressure and generally reduce your risk of heart disease. A spicy herb that is used in both sweet and savory dishes, ginger can be sliced, grated, sugared or eaten like candy. Ginger is staple in many baked goods and Asian dishes and can also be consumed as a tea, which can help ease an upset stomach. Add it to your diet by dipping a whole-grain roll in olive oil instead of butter. Then add a sprinkle of sage and black pepper. Try adding a few slices of fresh ginger to stir-fries or salad dressings. It’s a favorite of mine fermented or added to kombucha.

Turmeric contains an active component called curcumin, which may stop cancer from spreading and help prevent type 2 diabetes. Many claim that this bright orange-yellow spice provides pain relief equal or better to over-the-counter remedies such as ibuprofen. Turmeric is also being investigated for its potential benefits for those with Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis. An incredibly powerful antioxidant, turmeric contains anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties while helping to digest fats quickly. The spice can be added in pinches to a variety of foods including meats and salads, making it easy to consume. Curries and sauces are also great bases for turmeric.

Oregano has antiviral, antibacterial, anticancer, antioxidant and antibiotic properties. Its oil and leaves are used medicinally in treating cough, fever, congestion, body-ache and other illnesses. Use it as a seasoning in stews, pizzas and tomato-based sauces. Whenever possible, opt for fresh oregano leaves, which can enhance the flavor of salads and soups. Fabulous base for many great Italian seasoning blends and dressing mixes.

Basil A popular herb used to season sauces, soups, salads and pasta dishes, basil is known to have exceptionally powerful antioxidant properties that can protect the body from premature aging, common skin issues and some types of cancer. The herb contains plant pigments that shield your cell structures from oxygen and radiation damage and can be applied to wounds to help prevent bacterial infections. Basil is an easy addition to any diet. Toss a few basil leaves into your favorite dish for a fresh burst of flavor or use whole leaves and tomato slices to make a flavorful salad. It’s also often used as the foundation of a great pesto, which I love on pizza.

Nutmeg contains antibacterial compounds that may help fight listeria, E. coli, and salmonella, per research. Try nutmeg in soups or chicken dishes or on sweet potatoes.

Cumin is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant that may help stop tumor growth. Try cumin in tacos, or use it as a rub on meats or in chili and is excellent with black beans.

Peppermint is a great source of vitamin C and A and can help soothe indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome. Here’s how you can add it to your diet: Puree 2 tablespoons fresh mint with 1/2 cup yogurt or ricotta cheese. Serve with berries. This beautiful scent is an excellent essential oil used for helping those who suffer from headaches and migraines.

Garlic destroys cancer cells and may disrupt the metabolism of tumor cells, says Karen Collins, RD, nutrition advisor to the American Institute for Cancer Research. “Studies suggest that one or two cloves weekly provide cancer-protective benefits.” Let garlic sit for 10 to 15 minutes after chopping and before cooking so the active form of the protective phytochemicals develops. Sauté fresh garlic over low heat and mix with pasta, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan cheese.

As you can see, there are many wonderful benefits, other than the pure pleasure of our taste buds with these chosen herbs and spices.

Do you have a favorite herb, spice or remedy that others could benefit from? If so, please share in the comments below and let’s help each other.

To your health,


Holistic Wellness Mentor

Some of the sources were from FITNESS magazine and Men’s Health.

It’s Tea Time…what’s your favorite?

Cup of tea

Are you a tea drinker? I do love a good cup of hot tea more so in the winter that in the summer but I’ve found a good herbal blend can be had in my favorite kombucha as well.

Kombucha is something I like to refer to as a magic elixir. It’s actually a fermented tea, for those that aren’t familiar with the term. The best known benefits are it’s loaded with probiotics, enzymes for digestion, high in B vitamins and it’s a great detoxifier. If you’d like to learn more about it, read my article here.

Today, as I’m sipping my cup of chai tea, one of my favorites, I’ve also been conversing with a dear friend about recipes for herbal tea blends, which we both adore. While she’s putting together beautiful blends to give as gifts, I’ve been experimenting with blends for health. I then found this glorious article in Mother Earth News Living that has a plethora of great digestible information. See if you agree.

  1. Chamomile for Anxiety – This is also great for promoting sleep.

To make tea: Gather 1 tsp. dried or tsps. Fresh chamomile flowers and steep in 1 cup boiling water for 15-20 minutes. The longer it steeps, the more bitter it will taste.

  1. Lavender for Sleep Problems – It has profound relaxing, calming and uplifting effects.

To make tea: Steep 3-4 tsp. fresh lavender buds in 1 cup boiling water for about 10 minutes.

  1. Peppermint for Indigestion – Renewing, invigorating and energizing is a perfect pick-me-up. There are also studies showing it to effective at helping symptoms of indigestion and IBS.

To make tea: Steep 1 tsp. dried peppermint leaves in 1 cup boiling water for 10 minutes.

  1. Ginger for Nausea – It helps to boost circulation in the winter and it’s also known to soothe upset stomachs and helps to ease nausea. This includes nausea associated with pregnancy.

To make tea: Steep 3-5 thin slices of ginger root in boiling water for 3 minutes. Strain and enjoy. You can also use grated ginger in tea ball, steeping for about 3 minutes.

  1. Raspberry Leaf for Menstrual Cramps – it’s naturally rich in nutrients including magnesium, potassium, iron and B vitamins. It’s also good for helping with motion sickness and diarrhea. Not to be used during pregnancy.

To make tea: Steep 1 tbsp. dried raspberry leaf in 8 ounces boiling water for at least 5 minutes.

  1. Lemon Balm for Anxiety – Also a natural relaxation aid. It can also help fight headaches and reduce insomnia.

To make tea: Steep 1-2 tsp. dried lemon balm per cup of boiling water. Let steep until it’s cool enough to drink.

  1. Basil for Bad Breath – It’s an excellent source of vitamins A and K, vitamin C and manganese. It’s also rich in antioxidants and has antibacterial properties.

To make tea: Steep 2 tsp. dried basil leaves in 1 cup boiling water for 20 minutes. Strain and sweeten, if you like.

  1. Sage for Sore Throats – Its antimicrobial properties help you fight off colds, as well as treating sore throats. Avoid using sage if you have epilepsy.

To make tea: Combine 3 tsp. dried sage leaves or 10 fresh sage leaves and 1 cup boiling water. Let steep 5 minutes then strain and enjoy.

  1. Rosehips to Boost Immunity – High in vitamin c, about 20 times the vitamin c in oranges.

To make tea: Combine 4 tsp. whole dried rosehips with 4 cups water in a saucepan. Cover, bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Strain into a teapot and drink when cooled enough.

  1. Dandelion for Bone Health – It’s loaded with essential minerals such as iron, potassium and beta-carotene, plus vitamins A, C and D.

To make tea: Boil 1 quart water. Turn off heat and add 4 tsp. dandelion leaf. Cover and steep 30-60 minutes, then strain.

These are only a few of the many beautiful herbs and their health benefits. By combining herbs together, you can make amazing herbal tea blends. If you would like to learn more about them, there are many resources available. Amazon is a good source as well as your local library or favorite book store.

Growing your own fresh herbs is a delight. If you can’t or don’t want to grow your own, a favorite and well-trusted source is Mountain Rose Herbs.

What’s been your favorite go-to herb or blend of herbs and why do you use it? Feel free to comment below.

To your health,


Inflammation: Friend or Enemy


I have so many conversations with clients about inflammation and it always comes down to the negative side effects of too much inflammation. So I ask the question, is Inflammation: Friend or Enemy?

Inflammation is designed to help or aid our bodies into healing itself. Think about whenever you’ve cut your skin. What happens? In a couple of hours it looks red around the cut. That’s the “red cross” of the body doing what it’s designed to do. Attack and defend.

What happens when it attacks and defends too much because it’s under constant attack? Too much inflammation leads to all kinds of illness and disease. Perhaps things you didn’t know where associated, like auto-immune diseases, heart disease, stroke, thyroid issues, dental issues, migraines, ADD/ADHD, diabetes, joint issues or even cancer.

If you or a loved one suffers from any of these and other illness, the culprit is too much inflammation.

The biggest natural fighter is bone broth. Consuming on a daily basis, allows the body to calm itself and it helps to heal and seal the gut lining. If you suspect that you are plagued by Leaky Gut Syndrome or want to know more about what it is and what causes it…go watch a webinar that I made for you here.

Other foods, herbs and spices that you may find at your local Farmer’s Markets which help fight inflammation are such things like:

  • Cloves
  • Ginger
  • Rosemary
  • Turmeric
  • Cinnamon
  • Oregano
  • Marjoram
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Gourmet Italian spice
  • Animal-based omega-3 fat (found in fatty fish)
  • Leafy greens – dark (kale, spinach, collard greens and Swiss chard)
  • Blueberries
  • Tea (Matcha and Tulsi are loaded)
  • Fermented veggies and traditionally cultured foods
  • Shitake mushrooms
  • Garlic

The overall goal is to reduce chronic inflammation and your diet is key to doing that. Use these high quality herbs, spices and foods liberally. They are inexpensive and should be your “secret weapon” in your fight against inflammation.

Processed foods will trigger inflammation. Ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, soy, processed vegetable oils and other chemical additives are the enemy of your body.

Also avoid refined sugars as much as possible and foods cooked at high temps, especially cooked in vegetable oils (peanut, corn and soy oils).

Replacing processed foods with whole, ideally organic foods will automatically address most of these factors, especially if you eat a large portion of your food raw.

Just as important is making sure you’re regularly re-seeding your gut with beneficial bacteria. I prefer by food the best and that’s ingesting daily fermented veggies and/or fermented drinks.

Taking baby steps towards cleaning up your diet will pay you dividends in regards to your life and your health.

Go shop your local markets, support your farmer by purchasing as much whole, organic foods as possible. There are good spices and herbs to be had.

Live it up! Go clean up and clean out!

What’s been your biggest challenge in fighting inflammation? Share your thoughts and comments below.

To your health,


Holistic Wellness Mentor