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As we enter the cold and flu season, it’s helpful to remember that spices and herbs provide a boost to our immune systems. Elson Haas, MD, and Sondra Barrett, PhD share their favorite spices.
Haas and Barrett explain that cayenne gets its kick from the compound capsaicin. Not only does capsaicin turn up the heat, but it also can inhibit pain due to inflammation. Plus, this spice is a great source of antioxidants.
Sure, cinnamon flavors every fall treat, but it can also help you fight off those fall colds as an immune stimulator. Plus, it prevents blood platelet clumping, inhibits inflammatory substances, and can regulate blood sugar.
Vampires and colds beware—we’re armed with garlic. Haas and Barrett point out that this cooking staple is antiseptic, contains antioxidants, and has been shown to help fight a cold, due to the effects of the compound allicin.
While ginger is most famous for its ability to quell nausea, Haas and Barrett explain ginger also decreases inflammation, fights bacteria and fungi, and improves circulation.
Unfortunately, we don’t mean the candy. Licorice root, however, has the ability to lessen the inflammation response, especially in the stomach. (The authors do caution that, if taken in large amounts, it can raise blood pressure).
The next time you make some homemade pasta sauce, be liberal with the oregano. Haas and Barrett point out that oregano has more antioxidants than apples, oranges or blueberries. Plus, it can help treat infections from fungi, bacteria or parasites.
Rosemary is a beautifully scented herb that reduces asthma and improves digestion and circulation. Plus, studies have shown that rosemary is protective against oxidative damage.
With similar compounds as oregano, thyme is also a great way to fight off illnesses and, as an antioxidant, it protects your DNA from oxidative damage.
Turmeric gets its bright yellow color and its health benefits form curcumin. This compound is especially effective at protecting the liver, and it may even delay Alzheimer’s disease.