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The Aroma, Flavor and Health Benefits of Common Herbs and Spices

21 Oct. 2011 Posted by Hannah Mich in spices, herbs, cinnamon, parsley, nutmeg, basil, natural remedies
spices, herbs, cinnamon, parsley, nutmeg, basil, natural remedies

Herbs, such as basil, cinnamon, nutmeg and parsley, are more than just a way to add flavor to your favorite dishes. In fact, they have very powerful affects on the human body when consumed correctly. A better understanding of the foods we cook with can enable us to personalize our cooking to meet our personal tastes as well as our physical needs. If you feel you would benefit from the medicinal use of any one of these herbs or spices, contact a local naturalistic doctor.


Basil is native to India; however, it is sometimes better known in Italian cuisine than Asian cuisine. There are over a 100 different varieties of basil with sweet basil, Thai basil, lemon basil and holy basil being the more common varieties used. The leaves, flowers and seeds can all be consumed. The leaves, however, are more widely cooked with, especially with Asian and Italian dishes.

To treat ailments, the leaves can be steeped in water to make a tea or you can purchase basil oil, depending on the ailment and appropriate application. Common ailments treated with basil tea and oil include anxiety or stress, colds, insect bites, menstrual cramps and sinusitis. Although the side effects of using basil are minor, it can cause skin irritation in some people and it should be avoided as an herbal remedy during pregnancy.


Cinnamon comes from the bark or twigs of the cinnamon tree. Each is used for different ailments. The outer bark is what is normally used for our ground cinnamon spice and cinnamon sticks. Cinnamon is used in many desert dishes, such as fruit pies and breads, but it can also be sprinkled on side dishes, like sweet potatoes and squash, and used in Indian curry dishes.

Cinnamon can be administered in many different ways to alleviate ailments, but like many natural remedies requires the expertise and oversight of a naturopathic doctor. Often cinnamon comes in the form of a pill or powder that is combined with other herbs and alcohol. Cinnamon can help improve digestion, fertility and asthma. Other ailments cinnamon may help to abate include menstrual pain, arthritis and low-grade fevers associated with the common cold or flu.


Nutmeg comes from the core of the nutmeg apple, which is the fruit of an evergreen tree. This tree is native to an area in Indonesia. Many believe nutmeg is best when freshly ground from the dried core or nut. Foods nutmeg compliments include cheese dishes, apples, cakes or cookies, squash and eggnog.

Nutmeg can be used to treat indigestion, diarrhea, poor appetite, flatulence and insomnia. Because you can overdose on nutmeg, consult a naturopathic doctor before taking. Additionally, taking nutmeg in conjunction with other herbs may require you to lower your dosage.


Parsley is native to the Mediterranean area, but is now grown and consumed around the world. Parsley is added to salads and cooked with foods to add color and freshness. It is also a good source of vitamins C and A. You can cook with fresh parsley as well as dried.

Parsley helps to relax muscles and ease digestive problems such as cramps, flatulence and indigestion. It is also an expectorant that can ease coughing and asthma. Parsley is a diuretic and mild laxative, too. The dried leaves or roots are often steeped in boiling water to make a tea to treat these ailments.

Call To Action: 

See a local naturopathic doctor for treatment
Experiment with herbs and spices to bring old recipes to life


Drug & Natural Medicine Advisor; 1997

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