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4 spices and their benefits backed by science

4 spices and their benefits backed by science

Spices are known in most households for their culinary and medicinal applications. Since they add flavor and aroma to foods, we usually use them in the preparation of meats, vegetables, stews and other wide variety of recipes. In addition, by tradition, we also prepare remedies with spices for certain ailments and illnesses.

But how true are its medicinal properties? What does the research tell us? Fortunately, in recent years several studies have been carried out to analyze the effects of this type of ingredients on our health. In this way, many of the benefits attributed to them have been supported by science.

Spice Remedies Backed by Science

Most spice remedies come from popular literature and anecdotal data about their benefits. However, in order to determine if they actually provide any effect, many researchers have decided to study their properties.

Thus, for example, a review published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition points out that spices contain chemical compounds such as phenylpropanoids, terpenes, flavonoids and anthocyanins, which are what give them therapeutic potential.

In addition, they are also attributed antioxidant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity, which could explain their ability to improve our health. Despite this, we must keep in mind that no remedy of this type is a first-line therapeutic option or a substitute for medical treatment.

Simply, due to their properties, they can be an adjuvant when we go through certain health problems. In any case, as they are not exempt from causing side effects, we must use them with caution, consulting the doctor in advance.

  • Turmeric for pain and inflammation

Turmeric is one of the most studied spices with therapeutic potential in recent years. Specifically, it can be used to prepare remedies against pain and inflammation. Proof of this is a pilot study published in Phytotherapy Research, in which people with arthritis showed a reduction in pain after taking 500 mg of curcumin.

Other studies, such as the one published in the journal Foods, support these same effects and suggest that it may be as effective against pain as ibuprofen in case of knee osteoarthritis. In any case, more research is still necessary.

Meanwhile, we can consume this spice in doses of 2 to 5 grams. This can be through tablets, extracts or teas. We can even prepare the traditional "turmeric milk", which consists of adding half a teaspoon of turmeric powder (3 g) to a cup of warm milk.

  • Ginger for pain and nausea

The active compound in ginger, gingerol, has been studied for its potential as an analgesic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory. Thus, a systematic review published in Nutrition Journal indicates that its extracts are useful for reducing subjective chronic pain without the risk of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

In turn, a study published in Integrative Medicine Insights determined that this spice is a remedy with antiemetic potential, making it an economical and safe option to control nausea and vomiting. However, studies are still suggested to determine the appropriate dosage.

For now, we can take it in moderate quantities, adding a teaspoon of grated ginger (5 g) to a cup of water. If we want, we can add a little honey to sweeten or lemon juice to give it a citrus flavor. We can drink this drink 2 or 3 times a day.

  • Cinnamon to reduce blood sugar levels

Careful! Before trying this natural remedy it is important to take into account medical recommendations. Although studies suggest benefits of cinnamon in glucose control, we should not take it in excessive quantities and we should not use it to replace medications.

Even if we are under any medical treatment, it is better to consult a professional to rule out interactions. With this clear, let's see what the research says. Cinnamon contains a substance called cinnamaldehyde, which is what many of its properties are attributed to.

A study published in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology highlights that cinnamon contributes to increasing insulin sensitivity and glucose transport. In addition, it improves glucose levels in healthy subjects and has beneficial effects in patients with metabolic syndrome. Likewise, a publication in the medical journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism highlights that studies have shown that this spice can reduce fasting blood glucose between 10 and 29% in diabetic patients.

The recommended dose ranges from 1 to 6 grams per day. We can include it in infusions, smoothies and other preparations. The important thing is that we avoid exceeding its consumption.

  • Cayenne pepper for pain

Of the many spice remedies that exist, those made with cayenne pepper are one of the most accepted. In fact, its extracts are currently used for the production of pharmaceutical products. This is due to the content of an active compound called capsaicin, which gives it analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.

A review published in the journal Molecules highlights that studies have confirmed that capsaicin is useful for pain relief. Specifically, it may have modest beneficial effects against several pain syndromes, such as postherpetic neuralgia, diabetic neuropathy, and chronic musculoskeletal pain.

To take advantage of these properties we can purchase a prescription 8% capsaicin patch. Additionally, it is also available in extracts and supplements. In all cases, we must consult the doctor first.

If we want, we can also make a homemade preparation with cayenne pepper. It consists of mixing a tablespoon of cayenne pepper (10 g) with a cup of coconut oil (200 g). Then, we heat the preparation in a bain-marie, until we can integrate the ingredients well. We let it rest and use it topically on the painful areas.

Thanks to research carried out in recent years, today we can use some spice remedies with complete confidence. However, we must be clear that they do not replace medical treatment and are only an adjuvant against some ailments. For its safe use, we must consult the doctor and find out about its possible side effects and interactions.

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