The many benefits of spices
Spices – A Miracle Cure?
I strongly believe in preventive and balmy effects of some food, herbs and spices in particular. There is, of course, no guarantee against the risk of sickness but we can reduce the risk through a balanced and healthy nutrition (without giving up those little “sins”, of course – see my blogpost….). And no doubt that the food industry is trying to seduce us with all kinds of promises of “superfoods” just to make money. However, various studies have proven the very positive effects of plants Mother Nature is offering us. I would just like to mention turmeric which is the base for curry. A recognized naturalist once told me there was a village in India where cancer is hardly known – it is assumed that this is due to the regular consumption of the magic turmeric (which, by the way, should preferably be taken prior to meals and with a few drops of organic oil).
Anyways, my dear friend Abhishek Sen from Mumbai, author of the novel “Transcending Parallels” and very knowledgeable when it comes to nutrition and yoga, has summarized a few facts about spices in a humourous and at the same time interesting way which allows again a few insights into the Indian culture– enjoy reading!
For as far back as I can remember, my mother would always hand me a glass of warm milk with a spoonful of sugar to sweeten it up and a pinch of turmeric, every time I fell sick or took a nasty fall or had a runny nose. Now I know why! Turmeric, the bright yellow spice, which comes from the ginger family has medicinal compounds curcuminoids, most important being curcumin, which gives turmeric its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Recent researches have shown turmeric to help in fighting heart risks, cancer, aging, Alzheimer’s as it improves brain function and also arthritis for its anti-inflammatory properties, amongst others. Turmeric is also known to be an antiseptic and can be used on cuts and wounds to stop bleeding and prevent infection to an open wound.
Garlic is a magic food, especially for us men…you heard it! Having a clove or two of raw garlic, first thing in the morning, empty stomach had always been recommended for good heart health as it reduces blood cholesterol. However, anything that’s good for the heart and brain has to be good for your sexual organs, since brain activity is directly linked to the performance of your “apparatus”. Besides, a healthy heart means a good blood flow down south (and we all know what that means). Raw garlic stimulates nitric oxide in the brain, which also amounts to higher blood flow in the male genitalia, thereby awarding us with harder erections. However, overdosing on garlic cloves may not only give you bad breath for the rest of the day but also cause skin irritation…so pipe it down and keep it to two cloves if you want it up! Garlic is also known to destroy brain tumours and fight cancer. Its consumption can increase testosterone in men and since it has high quantities of vitamin C, it helps in improving your sperm count along with improving your overall health.
Cinnamon is another one of my “Favourite Eight”, for not only it smells divine, but also adds a little sweetness to any dish you incorporate it in. What’s contradicting about its inherent sweetness is that it lowers blood sugar levels and helps in fighting diabetes as it is known to boost insulin. Since blood sugar is known to obstruct blood supply to the sexual organs, both in men and women, lower levels of blood sugar invariably means a higher supply of blood flow to your privates down south. No wonder this aromatic tree bark, which is commonly called cinnamon, is known to be a natural aphrodisiac as it helps in increasing libido. You can add cinnamon sticks in your curries or add them in powder form. You can also add a pinch of cinnamon powder in your tea or take it with warm milk if you are having difficulties sleeping as it is known to calm you down and soothe your senses. But once again, have patience and don’t OD on cinnamon, hoping you’ll become the Redeemer of the lost art in one night!
Cardamom is another aromatic spice that is known to be soothing and calming and highly effective in enhancing your mood. It is also known to cool your body down when hot and render heat in the cold. As it soothes the nerves, it is known to help with nerve disorders. Cardamom is a brain tonic and as we know by now, anything that is good for the brain and the heart is good for your libido and enhancing your sexual performance. Cardamom pods can also be chewed as a breath freshener as it kills bacteria in the mouth. You can also add cardamom powder to your tea or coffee for that added flavour and to boost your flaccid libido!
Ginger is another commonly found and used spice in Indian homes and Indian food. I remember taking a spoonful of ginger juice along with a few drops of honey to relieve chest congestion and fight seasonal cold ever since I was a kid. Ginger can be added in the form of paste in your food to add flavour and thicken your curry base or an inch of it can be pounded and added to your tea. Ginger is also known to increase blood circulation and an increased blood circulation translates to a better blood supply to “you know where by now”. So, it is needless to say that ginger is another power spice that can give you that added punch and better performance under the covers! But once again, exercise caution and patience.
Clove is a dried flower bud that helps in increasing the white blood cell counts, which are essentially body’s army of little soldiers to fight against any foreign invader like microbes, pathogens or any other element posing a threat. This flower shaped spice packs punches and is pretty powerful, as it is known to be an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, anti-flatulence and is also used as a local anaesthetic and that’s why you find it in toothpaste and dentists recommend its application to relieve toothache. It is also known to be warming and soothing and gives heat to the body. Since it provides heat to the body, it also helps to stimulate your sexual organs and increase your libido. Some erotic oils are known to have clove oil as an essential element in its composition. However, since clove is also an anaesthetic, long term and continues use of it can lead to loss of sensation and numbness. The same goes for application of clove oil to your teeth. While it can provide instant relief from pain, constant use can burn your palate causing loss of sensation. Consumption of a large quantity of clove oil can also burn your oesophageal lining and your gastrointestinal tract. So, one must be frugal and cautious with the use of this wonder spice that is amongst many things, also a known and a potent aphrodisiac!
Aah! The controversial chili. Infamous for its heat and notorious for leaving your mouth burning and pits sweating, chilli is quite the wonder spice that has gained notoriety for its indiscriminate use by a few profligate chefs. If used in moderation, it is known to open your sinuses, dilate your blood vessels thereby improving circulation that invariably results into bettering one’s sexual performance, aiding digestion and relieving migraines, muscle and joint pains for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Also known as Bishop’s weed and “Ajwain” in Hindi, these little wonders are known to soothe the digestive tract, aides digestion, fights indigestion, flatulence and stomach ache and problems related to gas. We take a few pinches of roasted carom seeds after dinner to aid digestion apart from using it in preparation of certain foods that are known to be gassy. But that’s not all. This Bishop’s little weed is known to help you with yours! It is believed that carom seeds not only aides digestion and fights flatulence and stomach ache but is also known to increase libido in both the sexes.
Photo: „Favorite Eight“ by Abhishek Sen
Spices as Soldiers against Bacteria and Microbes
Besides the known fact that they add colour, flavour and aroma to the food, spices also help in fighting bacteria and microbes that feed on our food leading to spoilage of the food. The chemical compounds in the species fight against these microbes and bacteria, thereby increasing the life of a cooked meal. Probably that’s one of the reasons why you see more spices used in culinary preparation in hotter countries like India where the chances of food going bad are high as bacteria thrives in hot and moist conditions and that’s where refrigeration of the food comes in.
Using spices is a natural way to delay the spoilage and aging process of the cooked food. Something that is akin to Thai, Malaysian, African and Creole cuisines alongside Indian cooking, which are also known for their heat and spices. There is also the logic of perspiration used to cool the body down by eating hot and spicy food in places with a hot and humid climate.
Spicing it up…the hot yogi style!
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Photo: Abhishek Sen