A place where one woman has gathered resources and information to help her family survive in an uncertain future; together with occasional personal musings.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Medicinal Spices

Spices as medicine

I've been having more migraines than usual lately, so my mom brought over an article from an AARP Magazine that mentioned the effects of ginger on migraines. The article also mentioned the research behind a few spices that improved brain health and I wanted to share it with you guys. Plus, I'm throwing in some other health benefits found for each of these as well.

Even though I highly value western medicine, I also believe there are a lot of curative properties in food and spices so, when there is the opportunity to explore using edibles rather than synthetic chemicals with side-effects (known and unknown), I'll stick to the food-based ones thankyouverymuch. Plus, the environmental impact of growing ginger, garlic and the like is minimal in comparison to manufacturing pharmaceuticals and dealing with the health impacts of drug side-effects.

Studies done at the Headache Care Center in Springfield, Missouri have shown that more than 80% of migraine prone patients with mild headaches who were treated with a combo of ginger and the herb feverfew managed to ward off their migraines. After two hours of taking the herbs, 48% were pain free and for another 34%, the pain stayed mild.

Ginger doesn't just help fight migraines, motion sickness, morning sickness, nausea and heartburn, it also does a number on cancer cells. A study done at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center found that ginger powder induces cell death in all ovarian cancer cells. A different study also has found that ginger may slow the growth of colorectal cancer cells.

If you are feeling depressed over the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, you might want to think about saffron instead of a pharmaceutical anti-depressant. In 2007, University of Tehran researchers discovered that a dose of saffron works as well as Prozac in treating mild to moderate depression. It was found that 30 mg of saffron per day was just as effective in treating depression as taking 20 mg of Prozac.

Research has also indicated that saffron may inhibit cancer formation and shrink existing tumours while enhancing the effectiveness of chemotherapy. Other studies have shown that the anti-inflammatory properties of saffron may help prevent atherosclerosis.[source]

Did you know that the rate of Alzheimer's disease in India is 1/4 the U.S. rate? Researchers at UCLA think they know why. They did a study in mice that showed that curcumin, which is the active ingredient in turmeric and gives curry that distinctive yellow color, broke up brain plaques of amyloid beta. Amyloid beta is the abnormal protein buildup that is significant in Alzheimer's patients.

Adding more turmeric to your diet might help stave off Alzheimer's in the future. If you are not too worried about dementia, you might be interested that the spice is also used as a treatment for arthritis and has been shown to be effective in preventing some kinds of cancers and killing cancer cells in some studies.

Garlic has long been known for its many benefits, but it may also be helpful in fighting brain cancer. A 2007 study in the journal Cancer cited that garlic compounds eliminated brain cancer cells. The organo-sulfur compounds that are found in garlic have been identified as effective against glioblastoma, a brain cancer that generally delivers a death sentence with it.

To take advantage of any potential anti-cancer benefits from garlic, researchers suggested that you cut and peel a piece of fresh garlic and let it sit for fifteen minutes before eating or cooking it. This time allows for the release of an enzyme (allinase) that produces the anti-cancer compounds.

If you are interested in pursuing the health benefits of these, but don't like the flavors, you might want to look into the supplements that are on the market, but be careful of too many false claims and look for brands that are well known and trusted. You don't want to end up with a capsule full of filler.

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