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The Health Benefits of Herbs and Spices

By Kate Johnson
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Another popular Indian spice you can add to your diet is turmeric. It is used to treat liver and digestive problems, joint pain, skin ulcerations and eczema. Turmeric has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties and research has shown turmeric strengthens the immune system, reduces tumor growth, helps fight cystic fibrosis and is an effective pain killer. While it should not be used by people with gallstones, this is one powerful herbal supplement that's often neglected.

Ginkgo biloba seed has been used in Chinese cooking for centuries, promising cures for respiratory ailments, memory loss, narrowing arteries, ED (related to taking antidepressants), multiple sclerosis, insulin resistance and tinnitus. Ginkgo is an antioxidant that stimulates blood flow and blocks blood clotting, but there has been no verifiable proof that it prevents Alzheimer's disease in humans. Ginkgo should not be taken prior to surgery or by those using anticoagulants or anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Ibuprofen. Many people are sensitive to the seed's outer coating and the uncooked seeds may cause seizures or death.

Another popular herbal supplement, Ginseng, claims it will make you smarter and faster, lower your blood pressure, cure your erectile dysfunction and hepatitis C and eliminate your menopause symptoms. Sound a little too good to be true? Research has shown ginseng reduces blood glucose levels and boosts immunity, but it may cause breast pain and should not be used by diabetics, especially when taking fenugreek or bitter melon. The ginseng root is used in the Chinese soup, samgyetang.

Clearly, you must be aware of what will help you and what will hurt you. Spices and herbal supplements, while not a necessary part of your diet, can certainly improve your health and well-being if used properly. Our bodies have evolved for tens of thousands of years, using plants for food and medicine. Science doesn't yet understand how all the pieces fit together, but there is enough evidence to warrant taking an educated leap into the kitchen to cook up a batch of good health. Bon appeacute;tit!

 
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