Winter can be a challenging time for us! The temperature drops, the cold sets in and the days grow shorter. This time of year is when we need to call in the reinforcements to help support the immune system and keep us warm during the winter months.
Herbs & Spices do more than bring flavor to our foods – they also do a great job at keeping us healthy. So let's look at a few of my favourites and how we can incorporate them in to our food choices:
Cinnamon can stimulate the circulation and has traditionally been taken as a “warming” herb, sometimes in combination with ginger. Research shows that cinnamon can be used to relieve aching muscles and other symptoms of the common cold.
The volatile oils found in cinnamon possess both antiviral and carminative properties; therefore is a classic remedy for digestive issues. Cinnamon is a great booster for a smoothie. It can also help lower blood sugar levels and reduce heart disease risk factors.
Cloves first arrived in Europe around the fourth century however Chinese medicine has used cloves for hundreds of years to help with indigestion, diarrhoea, athlete’s foot and other fungal infections. In traditional Indian ayurvedic medicine, cloves are used to treat respiratory and digestive problems.
Clove bud oil can be used to help with a toothache. It contains a chemical compound, called eugenol, which has both analgesic and antiseptic qualities. A bruised clove or some clove bud oil on cotton wool is held in the mouth near the tooth and can help reduce pain and infection.
In herbal medicine, ginger is regarded as an excellent digestive aid and immune tonic - so why not try it in a Lemon & Ginger Tea or add it to your smoothies this winter. Studies also suggest that it has anti-inflammatory effects and supports increased circulation. This is key at this time of year to keep our hands and feet warm.
Why not try to include this spice daily in juices, smoothies, herbal teas or add to soups and stews.
Maca is a Peruvian root which is praised for its energizing properties. The indigenous population in Peru has utilized it for thousands of years to boost energy and promote feeling of overall wellness. This nutty flavoured spice can be great for this time of year to keep our energy levels up during the shorter days. It is sold in powder form and can be added to any recipes.
Turmeric is part of the ginger family and medicinally, turmeric has received considerable and favourable publicity of late. In traditional Indian ayurvedic medicine, the herb is considered a natural antibiotic that can also strengthen digestion and improve intestinal flora. Some herbalists recommend using turmeric’s antibacterial constituent, curcumin, topically to fight certain skin conditions such as psoriasis and athlete’s foot.
This flowery flavourful spice is a true superfood. Add it to smoothies, curries, stews, roast vegetables and turmeric lattes.