Must-Have Herbs And Spices For Your Medicine Cabinet

Herbs and spices can do much more than just flavor or fire up your food. Ayurveda and naturopathy have tapped the astonishing healing properties of these common cooking ingredients to cure a variety of ailments. But with so many home remedies on offer, which are the ones you should stock up in your very own first-aid kit?

Cloves For Colds, Coughs, And Toothaches

Chewing on a couple of cloves is a popular home remedy that has its roots in Ayurveda. By breaking cloves down with your teeth, you release oils with antiseptic proerties which help numb the area and also kill bacteria.1 Studies have found that eugenol, an anti-inflammatory chemical in cloves, can even work against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.2 Cloves are a digestive stimulant and a heating food that increases pitta,

and can be used with some honey for coughs and colds.3 Some traditional remedies also suggest a warming broth with cloves and other spices like ginger to treat congestion, colds, and coughs.

Ginger For Pain And Nausea

Ginger is a great addition to your kit for its anti-inflammatory properties. It can help ease the swelling and pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. If you or a family member are prone to motion sickness, ginger can help. It can even prevent nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. Pregnant women who wish to ease morning sickness can keep ginger handy.4

Aloe Vera For Rashes, Burns, And Bites

Aloe works well as a moisturizer and against acne, and is also effective for treating rashes and insect bites due to its cool, soothing sensation.5 It is a good antiseptic that inhibits the growth of viruses, bacteria, and fungi.6

Turmeric For Cuts, Infection, And Inflammation

Turmeric is a legendary anti-inflammatory, antiarthritic, and antioxidant agent which if used topically can help soothe inflamed skin and ease pain and inflammation on wounds. It can also be used to treat ringworm. The curcumin in turmeric reduces joint inflammation if you have rheumatoid arthritis. Turmeric also reduces abdominal pain as well as discomfort typical of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.7

Cardamom To Soothe Sore Throats And Freshen Breath

Cardamom is a sweet-smelling spice which, when chewed, can act as a natural breath freshener. It also eases nausea and prevents vomiting. You can also gargle with a mix of cinnamon and cardamom to cure a sore throat when you have flu or pharyngitis.8

Cinnamon For Metabolic Syndrome And Cardiovascular Health

Cinnamon is antimicrobial and rich in antioxidants. It has been shown to help lower blood glucose levels as well as blood pressure and cholesterol. Its hepatoprotective action has also been demonstrated by studies.9 You may want to stock up on this anti-inflammatory spice and consume it regularly to keep away symptoms of metabolic syndrome and to stay in good cardiovascular health. It can also be useful for those with Type-2 diabetes as it helps improve insulin action.10

Basil For Colds And Fevers

Ocimum basilicum or basil is a commonly used herb that doubles up as

a remedy for cold and diarrhea. A teaspoon of holy basil and a teaspoon of honey taken with a quarter of a teaspoon of black pepper powder stirred into a cup of warm water can ease a chronic fever if taken thrice a day.11

An Ayurvedic First-Aid Kit For Your Body Type

According to Ayurveda, each of us has a specific body constitution that can be classified as vata, pitta, or kapha. Depending on your body type, you will need a different set of herbs and spices in your medicine cabinet or larder.

  • Vata: For the Vata body type, you may need to actually avoid using too many spices and lean toward herbs as flavoring instead, to calm the tendency to be overly anxious. Salt can be used generously. Calming spices like nutmeg and digestive aids like cardamom can be taken.12
  • Pitta: The pitta body needs to be cooled down, so chillies should be avoided. However, herbs like mint and coriander cool
    the body and are a good inclusion. Turmeric, saffron, and cumin are good to have.13 The Indian gooseberry, a sour herbal remedy and fruit, is rich in antioxidants and bolsters the immune system. It is recommended for those with the pitta dosha and can improve digestion and treat skin diseases. The fruit is also eaten for its natural laxative effects.14
  • Kapha: This body constitution needs metabolism to be kicked up a notch and most herbs and spices can help. The spicier the better. For those who can’t handle too much spice, gentle-flavored spices like cardamom, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, and paprika can get the job done. However, go easy on the salt.

In addition, to rid the body of toxins or ama, you should consider consuming black peppercorns and ginger. One easy remedy for ama is to have a slice of ginger cut really thin and seasoned with salt and lemon juice about 30 minutes before a main meal.15