Here are some of our favourite herbs and spices to boost your immune system, help your memory and lower your blood sugar:
When you need a sugar boost but want to lay off the white stuff, adding cinnamon to a dish can sweeten it naturally and actually lower your blood sugar and cholesterol level.
Thanks to something called cinnamaldehyde, a potent antioxidant found in cinnamon, it improves insulin sensitivity and also helps fight inflammation.
A real super spice, cinnamon is readily available, but if you’re using it in high quantities ensure you buy the Ceylon cinnamon rather than Cassia cinnamon which actually comes from a different plant.
The Ceylon cinnamon has a very low level of coumarin, which when taken in large quantities can cause serious problems, and have a negative effect on the liver and kidney. In contrast to Ceylon, the Cassia cinnamon contains 1,200 times more coumarin.
Sage, also meaning wise, might well be something to do with the fact that this herb is great for memory and brain function.
In people who suffer from Alzheimer’s, they experience a drop in the level of acetylcholine – which is a chemical messenger to the brain. With sage, it’s believed that the herb actually inhibits the breakdown of this chemical.
With anti-inflammatory benefits, sage can help with conditions such as arthritis and gout, and also reduces inflammation of the cardiovascular system.
Sage is also packed with antioxidants so it’s a great all-rounder and is great in many savoury dishes.
We can’t really sing the praises of turmeric enough. Used in Asia for thousands of years for its medicinal properties, turmeric contains curcuminoids which are compounds within the spice. One of these is curcumin, the primary active ingredient within turmeric.
A strong antioxidant, it has huge anti-inflammatory effects. In the turmeric we eat, this curcumin content is relatively low. To reach higher levels of this compound you’d have to take an extract.
Turmeric is proven to fight heart disease, Alzheimer’s and research is continuing into its cancer-fighting properties.
Vitamin A and C are found in abundance in thyme, and this makes it a great choice for a real immunity boost. It’s also great for giving you a feeling of all-round wellbeing as it contains carvacrol, shown to affect neuron activity in a positive way.
Thyme is often used as a natural cough remedy and also as a way to lower blood pressure.
Car sick? Tummy ache? Crack open the ginger! An excellent carminative (substance which eliminates excessive gas from the digestive system), ginger can help with many stomach gripes, including colic and dyspepsia.
Pregnant women often benefit from ginger as a remedy against morning sickness, and the gingerols contained in ginger are anti-inflammatory compounds which reduce pain levels for people with arthritis.
Hi Roger, thanks for that. I had just heard something about it and I know how powerful herbs are so didn't want to jeopordise my weight training!
my minimal googling tells me that it is only sage essential oil that might be an issue there. I don't think it is too much of a worry as a sprinkling of herbs.
I have heard that sage has estrogenic properties so I wonder if it should be used in moderation by men, particularly if they're bulking up. Does anyone know if that's true?
Turmeric is great - I use it in my dog's food when he has colitis to reduce inflammation!
fascinating - the trick with ginger definitely works, I use it if I am travel sick. I'm also not familiar with sage so that's one to look up.
That's very interesting about Ceylon cinnamon. I use a lot of cinnamon in baking and curries and had never realised you could potentially overdo it. People should be aware of the power of herbs, good and bad.
I had no idea about sage, it's not something I use. Some recipes incorporating sage might be an idea?