Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Spices of Life Should Be In Your Medicine Cabinet




I haven't touched on the subject of herbs in almost a year and I find it appropriate to talk about them now since Spring has supposedly sprung on the calendar.  Of course, you'd never know that if you looked outside this morning in New England-- we got more snow!!!  All kidding aside, this is the perfect time to start your herb gardens.  I've had my seedlings growing indoors for about two weeks.

Herbs can pack quite a punch to your meals, but did you know that they can also aid you in relief of certain aliments and disease?  Common herbs like chili, thyme, basil, and sage have been known to do just that.  In fact, Bharat Aggarwal, author of Healing Spices, lists 50 common spices that can be used in a healthful way to help with your conditions.

The art of using herbs to aid in healing is not new.  People from all around the world have been using herbs for centuries.  It is not known exactly when man's interest in herbs started, but we do have a recording of a Chinese Emperor named Chi'en Nung.  He studied many herbs and recorded the results in a book entitled Pen Tsao, published in 3400 BC.  

Aggarwal, a native of India, remembers his mother using the herb turmeric to help with his colds as a young boy.  Turmeric, one of the main ingredients in curry, is now being researched for its potential to help with diseases like Alzheimer's, psoriasis, cystic fibrosis, and even cancer.

Another spice Aggarwal discusses is chili.  The chili pepper contains capsaicin, a compound that gives chili its heat.  This compound is believed to make the brain release less of the neurotransmitters that carry pain sensations, which could be a plus for Fibro sufferers.

It is believed that the herb can help by being consumed over time.  There is little study on this and most studies include the topical cream containing capsaicin.  One was done by Oxford University with 1600 participants.  41% of the participants that received capsaicin cream experienced relief of symptoms as opposed to 26% who had the placebo.

Fibromyalgia-Symptoms.org boasts that the chili pepper may have saved the day when it comes to some findings in Texas.  "Researchers at San Antonio's University of Texas (UT) are grateful to the chili pepper for helping them find a way to stem pain at its source. A report of these discoveries has been published in the April 26, 2010 Journal of Clinical Investigation."

Having said that, chili may be on my menu more often!  But chili is not the only one that may help.  It is said that basil helps with inflammation and may also relieve stress.  This is a plus for me because I tend to have inflammation with my Fibromyalgia symptoms and I'm also always stressed.   Sage is said to improve memory, which would really help me out during my Fibro Foggy days.  And rosemary can help with headaches, yet another symptom of my Fibromyalgia.

These common herbs seem to really be able to spice up your life in a healthy way, but as with anything, though, you should take care in consumption.  Certain herbs can hinder your health if you happen to have particular aliments.  For instance, it is not recommended to take a rosemary supplement if you have high blood pressure.  Garlic, another healthful herb, could spell disaster for patients with certain blood conditions because garlic is an effective blood thinner.  Consult your doctor about any supplements you might want to take, as well as any change in your diet.

Stay fabulous!
Love and friendship,

Kimberley
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