The Health Benefits of Herbs and Spices

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Garlic has been hailed as a cure all for centuries, treating everything from high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, cancer and even warding off vampires. Research has shown that garlic slows atherosclerosis, reduces high cholesterol and thins the blood. As a result, it should be avoided for one week prior to surgery and should not be used by those taking saquinavir, an HIV drug. A garlic press makes cooking with garlic very simple. It holds the skin and releases crushed fresh garlic into salads, supper dishes, even scrambled eggs.

Another long time favorite of the kitchen medic is ginger root. The root is peeled and then sliced or crushed. It is found in many Caribbean, Indian and Chinese recipes. Ginger is very effective in treating stomach and digestive problems, colds, flu, joint and muscle pain. Research shows ginger relieves morning sickness, although, for some, it may cause heartburn and bloating.

Peter Rabbit and the Pokey Little Puppy both know the benefits of chamomile tea. This sweet, mild tea helps you fall asleep, soothes your upset stomach and helps you get over a stressful day. It is also used as a rinse to treat skin ulcers and gives hair a shiny appearance. Some people are allergic to this member of the daisy family.

Peppermint tea is another tummy-numbing treatment with a delightful flavor. Peppermint oil has been used for centuries to treat digestive ailments, headaches, colds and muscle pain. Research has shown it may help those who suffer with irritable bowel syndrome. Some people are allergic and should not be taken with antacids, which will be broken down too quickly, causing heartburn.

Green tea is all the rage these days with claims of improving mental function, preventing cancer and lowering cholesterol. Research shows some slowing in cancer growth and improved mental function but it can cause liver problems when taken in high doses. Green tea contains vitamin K which can interfere with anticoagulants like warfarin.