Ever wonder why we humans started to use spices in our food? Sure they make things tasty, but is that all that’s too it? Well according to Traditional Tibetan Medicine every spice we use has its own healing properties.
When used in the right amounts at the right time, spices can help make our food our medicine. Too much though, just like anything, can also lead to undesired results for both taste and for our bodies. The art of balancing our diet including adding healing spices to foods according to our personal needs is the beautiful art of Traditional Tibetan Medicine and cooking tasty food.
Since Tibet was so great at maintaining ancient knowledge I have to assume that most cultures who used spices understood these healing powers at one time or another, but they simply lost the knowledge due to historical events.
Here is a list of 10 healing spices that you can easily find in your house.
Nutmeg is one of the main herbs used in traditional Tibetan formulas for the heart and its connection with the nervous system. It helps to heal all problems connected with the electrical impulses to the heart, the circulatory system and mental health conditions related to the heart and nervous system. For that reason, it is also a great sleep aid. If you have anxiety, depression, mood swings, irritability or insomnia, use some nutmeg in your favorite drink or dessert sweetened with maple syrup to mellow out.
Clove is warm-natured and used in traditional Tibetan formulas for all cold natured problems affecting the central nervous system, while at the same time it is known for its ability to increase heat in the stomach and liver, therefore, aiding in digestion. It is also great for problems with the function of the throat and speech. One special function of clove is to help reduce hiccups: warm up a few cloves in a spoonful of butter or ghee and drink it.
Cardamom is like nectar for cold natured problems in the lower part of the body, in particular, the kidneys. If you have low energy, weak digestion, frequent urination or low sexual desire cardamom is a great herb to spice things up. A little in food makes dishes delicious and easy to digest. Now it makes sense why Moroccans put it in their coffee…to lighten the impact on the kidneys!
Saffron is a cold natured herb that helps clean the blood and liver. Although it is cold nature it is relatively gentle on the system so is a great herb to gently reduce inflammation in the body and detoxify the blood and liver without disturbing the digestive system. Boil water and pour it over 5 strands of saffron, let it cool down and drink it at about noon for at least a week for a nice gentle liver cleanse. This is especially useful in the Autumn time when the liver heat is most active. Be sure to take a break from alcohol when doing a saffron cleanse.
Coriander is an excellent herb for people who have long-term indigestion that has caused inflammation. Even in more advanced cases in which ulcers are present, coriander can still safely be used to make food more digestible and increase the metabolism. That explains why it is a favorite spice in those famous Belgian white beers! It helps the body metabolize the beer without further harming the liver.
Of all other healing spices, cumin has a unique function in that it is known to reduce heat in the lungs while at the same time increasing the metabolism and ability to digest food. This makes it a great choice for people who do strong cardiovascular exercise who want to use spice up their food to increase their metabolism. Likewise, if you have tight lungs, congestion and indigestion you can make a tea with cumin before breakfast. Add some honey to taste. It will make it palatable and increase the lung purifying effect.
7. Onion Seed
In Tibetan Medicine, onion seed is considered a relative of cumin. It also increases the metabolism and digestibility of food but has the special quality of removing stagnation from the liver. That means it is great for removing any inflammation and toxicity that has spread throughout the body due to weak digestion. Make a light tea after dinner. It might not taste good, but your liver will thank you!
Ever wonder what that after dinner digestive at most Indian restaurants has in it? Fennel is one of the best healing spices for relieving digestive discomfort. In addition to increasing the metabolism and digestibility of food, fennel can work wonders for a bloated belly. It’s also great for digestive problems due to pesky microorganisms.
Caraway, similar to nutmeg, is great for relaxing the nervous system and removing problems where the nervous system is affecting the heart. It is more on the neutral side so in addition to aiding in digestion, it is also known to help reduce inflammation affecting the heart and the stomach. Bundle some up in cotton, soak it warm oil and place it on your wind points for fast acting anxiety relief.
Believe it or not, but fenugreek is a fantastic way to remove toxins and impurities from the digestive tract. It has the power to clean away the excess fluid in the body and, therefore, can aid in weight-loss. Be careful though if your metabolism is already pumping strong, because it increases the heat.