Can kitchen spices be healing?
In many styles of natural healing, herbs are the foremost medicines. And they aren’t just used in tinctures or capsules. Using cooking spices is a great way to get them into your diet.
In traditional Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine, a health evaluation is based on experiencing the body with the five human senses. When you take an herb, does it speed you up, or slow you down? Help your tissues stay moist, or dry you out? Make you feel warmer, or cooler? By narrowing down herbal effects, we can design herb selections with power, potency and targeted effects.
A good way to understand the broad concept is as a spectrum from hypometabolic (cold) to hypermetabolic (hot). As the metabolic rate increases, temperature and all other biological processes increase. The opposite is true for the cold direction.
If you could use a circulatory boost, improved digestion, fewer allergies, and a little warmth to those cold hands and feet, add some spice to your life.
Herbs go in food for taste, and for medicinal effects, or food is mixed into herbs to make them palatable, so many warming herbs are those we think of as culinary spices, such as garlic, mustard and cloves, whereas dandelion and spearmint are cooling herbs.
Herbs that are warming help to disperse and counteract conditions when the body has excess mucus or stagnation. Warming herbs also reduce disturbances to the nervous system.
On the whole, warming herbs promote digestion, and black pepper is an excellent example. Piperine, a main active ingredient, has a reputation for increasing bioavailability and absorption of nutrients, and it reduces depression and enhances cognition. Piperine also protects against liver damage almost as well as milk thistle
Use pepper liberally as a culinary spice, or brew some spicy peppercorns into your tea of choice.
In another sense, the action of an herb depends upon its dilating and constricting effects. Herbs are classified according to those that dilate or constrict. In general, sour, salty and pungent tasting herbs promote circulation.
Ginger is just such a pungent herb, called “the universal medicine.”
For a few more warming choices, look at cinnamon, cardamom, fennel, anise, cumin and basil.
In this introductory class, we will learn how to include healing culinary spices in food for a long-term healthful effect. Join us to understand the basics of food and healing spices, including some tasty recipes.