The unassuming masala-rack in your kitchen actually holds a treasure trove of herbs and spices that alongside adding amazing flavour to your food, have a strong healing powers. We have all grown with our grand-moms and mom giving as “ghar ke nuske” - home remedies for childhood illnesses. I remember my mom giving me a spoon of forest honey(specially procured) with turmeric and ginger in the winters to prevent any cold and flu or milk with almonds and saffron cooled in the summer for general health. These must be superpower herbs!
“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”
A famous quote from the father of medicine forces us to look to what we eat regularly and how some of it is counted among the most super power herbs in the world. What is available to us in India effortlessly, is counted as premium and difficult to find spices across some parts of the world. This forces me to think of why they are so premium and also how these common everyday masala’s help you to heal yourself.
1. BASIL (Tulsi) - Tulsi plays a immensely important role in the Indian households, specially in relation to religious ceremonies. But, did you know that from imparting you a clear skin to dissolving kidney stones, the tulsi leaves are helpful in keeping you from various ailments. According to Ayurveda, tulsi leaves can be used as a smoking cessation device. A decoction made of tulsi leaves helps in curing general fever and when taken cold assists with reducing headaches. Chewing a few leaves of tulsi on an empty stomach everyday can both prevent and protect against heart ailments and help lower cholesterol levels. The daily intake of the juice of tulsi leaves with honey helps with clearing the kidneys. It is also being said that chewing the leaves whenever the urge to smoke arises is known to help kick the habit.
2. CINNAMON (Dal-chini) - The most popular quality attributed to Cinnamon (also correlated by several studies) is that it contains special properties that help those with insulin resistance. Therefore making it very popular with Type 2 diabetics who take it to control their blood sugar variations. Imagine, just sprinkling a pinch of cinnamon in yogurt, oats, curries, soups and roasted vegetables will keep you away from the doctors and hospitals. Besides that, incase you are known to have stomach cramps or upsets, a cup of Cinnamon tea 2-3 times per day help dramatically reduce the pain. There are other studies that state that cinnamon tea helps the pain from arthritis while others claim a Cinnamon Oil based massage oil helps ease the pain. According to another article, just smelling cinnamon enhances cognitive processing, but consuming it significantly ups brain function. A definitive advantage, I say.
Cinnamon sticks via
3. CLOVE ( Laung) - Clove is best known to be a pain deadening anti-microbial, most commonly used as an effective stopgap measure for tooth pain. Less commonly known is the fact that used selectively clove can also help the body use insulin more effectively, thus lowering blood sugar somewhat. Cloves also work as an agent in loosening mucus in the throat and esophagus making it easier to cough up phlegm. Combined with honey and lemon, one teaspoon of cloves help in clearing up acne and skin issues. The powder of fried cloves mixed with honey is known as an effective home-remedy in controlling vomiting.
4. FENNEL (saunf) - Fennel is most widely known for it use around the world in mouth fresheners, toothpastes, desserts, antacids and in various culinary applications. But it has a number of health benefits too which include relief from anemia, indigestion, constipation, respiratory disorders, and menstrual disorders. It helps in the formation of hemoglobin. Chewing saunf after meals is known to facilitate digestion and prevent bad breath. A study states “1 bowl of saunf contains almost 20% of the daily requirement of vitamin-C, which makes fennel quite a rich source of this beneficial element of our diet.” Women who are breastfeeding may find that fennel, which works in a way similar to the body’s hormones, increases milk flow. Fennel is frequently used in a lot of dishes we make, but fennel tea and adding fennel and honey to milk is also excellent way to include in your daily routine.
Fennel seeds via
5. TURMERIC (Haldi) - Most commonly known for its extensive use in almost all Indian curries, this surprising spice has known to have minimal calories and zero cholesterol. It is also known to be rich in dietary fiber, iron, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B6. Experts state that turmeric is 5 to 8 times stronger than vitamin E and stronger than vitamin C. Treating sprains and swellings with a pinch of turmeric powder, lime and salt is an age-old home remedy practiced throughout India. Turmeric powder is an effective home remedy for chronic cough and cold and throat irritations in combination with hot milk.
These herbs and spices which are incorporated into your normal ‘ghar ka khana' on a regular basis are at the root of the organic and holistic lifestyles across the world. We are the country that is known in the world as the ‘home of spices’ and most times we do not acknowledge or celebrate the amazing resources available to us while a lot of people in the West would do cartwheels to have the same privilege. Make optimal use of these blessings available to you.
What are your go-to super herbs? Do share!