Spice it up: The Best Medicinal Herbs
Besides perking up your palate, culinary herbs and spices may be powerful weapons against a variety of diseases—from Alzheimer's to cancer and diabetes. A number of supplement manufacturers now offer these functional flavourings in pill form, so you don't have to eats tons of the stuff to get the maximum benefit.
Here's a roundup of some of the most promising medicinal herbs and spices from top-notch brands.
Wholistic Turmeric, £15.95 (30 caps)
www.pukkaherbs.com; tel: 0845 375 1744
Curcumin, the yellow pigment in the popular Indian spice turmeric, is showing promise against a broad range of diseases, especially cancer. Lab studies found that curcumin can kill human cancer cells of the breast, prostate, pancreas, stomach and colon,1 while preliminary trials in cancer patients suggest the compound may be able to stabilize or even reverse the disease.2
Curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory, may also help arthritis as well as gastrointestinal conditions like indigestion, Helicobacter pylori infection, peptic ulcer, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.3
Pukka's high-grade organic Wholistic Turmeric, which provides the equivalent of 35 g of turmeric root per 2-capsule serving, contains not just curcumin, but a full range of turmeric's bioactive compounds to enhance absorption and potency.
Cinnamon Bark Capsules, £11 (60 caps)
www.fushi.co.uk; tel: 020 8742 2000
The sweet spice cinnamon appears to be an all-round health protector, with special properties that can bring down inflammation, fight bacteria, viruses and fungi, lower blood pressure, protect the stomach and even curb tumours.4 It may be especially useful for type 2 diabetics.5 Those taking 1-6g/day of cinnamon can significantly reduce their blood sugar and cholesterol levels, according to at least one study.6
This cinnamon bark supplement from ethical UK health and beauty brand Fushi is organic, vegan and contains 480 mg of Cinnamomum cassia per capsule.
Organic Ginger Root 400 mg, £7.10 (30 caps)
www.viridian-nutrition.com; tel: 01327 878 050
A staple ingredient in Southeast Asian cooking, ginger root has long been used to curb nausea and vomiting, and studies suggest it works just as well as the anti-vomiting drug metoclopramide.9 It's also shown promise as an anticancer agent, albeit so far only in animal and test-tube studies.10
Viridian's ginger-root capsules are vegan, kosher and certified organic by the Soil Association.
Wild Oregano Oil, £15.99 (60 caps)
www.solgaronline.co.uk; tel: 01624 825 812
Oregano was the king of antioxidants when compared with nine other herbs in one study.11 It also has potent antifungal and antibacterial properties.12
Solgar's oregano supplement is a blend of wild oregano (Origanum vulgare) oil and extra virgin olive oil, and free of wheat, gluten, dairy, soya, sweeteners, preservatives, and artificial colourings and flavourings. It's not suitable for vegetarians, though, due to gelatin in the capsule shells.
A wise choice
Sage 2500 mg, £10.73 (90 tabs)
www.healthyuk.com; tel: 02089 530 922
Not just a perfect partner for pork, sage is showing promise for treating dementia as well as high cholesterol. Just 60 drops a day of a liquid extract of the aromatic herb improved brain function and lessened agitation in patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease,7 while sage leaf extract was able to lower levels of LDL ('bad') cholesterol and boost HDL ('good') cholesterol, with no adverse effects.8
Lamberts high-grade sage extract has a guaranteed level of 2.5 per cent rosmarinic acid, the 'active' compound in sage believed to be responsible for much of its beneficial effects.