Alternative health guru Dr. Joseph Mercola reveals his top 10 herbs and spices to prevent disease and combat aging.
When choosing between fresh or dried herbs, Dr. Mercola suggests that the fresh variety is more powerful. In general, the more fragrant the herb, the stronger its benefits. You can, however, get nearly the same benefits from dried herbs if you store them in an airtight container out of direct sunlight.
10. Protect Your Skin Cells: Italian Spice
Damaged skin cells make us look older prematurely. Dr. Mercola recommends adding an Italian spice blend to your cooking, which may provide vital protection on the cellular level. Basil, Italian spice blend’s key ingredient, is loaded with antioxidants that can protect your cells from harmful free radicals – the damaging molecules that also contribute to heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and Alzheimer's disease.
9. Heal From Infections Faster: Thyme
Bacterial infections can range from a common sore throat to potentially deadly pneumonia. Studies have shown that thyme can kill MSRA bacteria, which lead to staph infections. Additionally, extracts of thyme are used in mouthwashes to treat inflammations and in cough drops to treat throat infections.
8. Fight Inflammation: Sage
Inflammation on the cellular level is the main reason the body ages faster than it should. Dr. Mercola adds sage to his meals to fight inflammation. This herb can help fight inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and atherosclerosis, which causes a hardenening of the arteries.
7. Improve Digestion and Sleep: Marjoram
A healthy digestive system and a good night’s sleep are essential to your overall health. Studies show that incorporating marjoram into your diet may activate cells that aid digestion. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try adding five drops of marjoram oil, available in health food stores, to a warm bath. The herb’s essential oils may relieve stress, helping you sleep soundly through the night.
6. Immunity Booster: Oregano
Numerous studies have demonstrated the antioxidant properties of oregano. Its active agent, rosmarinic acid, clears out the free radicals that age us and contribute to disease. Additionally, oregano is also one of the strongest and most effective broad-spectrum antibiotics and antifungals out there. It can help kill Candida, or yeast infection, as well as fungal nail infections.
5. Keep Your Heart Young: Apple Pie Spice
Ginger is the key ingredient in this aromatic spice blend. The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger keep your heart young and your arteries clear. Additionally, ginger helps protect against harmful bacteria and fungi. It boosts the immune system and can protect against atherosclerosis by lowering cholesterol levels and preventing the oxidation of LDL (the bad cholesterol). As an additional benefit, ginger is a potent treatment for nausea.
4. Stimulate Digestive Juices: Jamaican Allspice
Allspice is produced from the fruit of the Pimenta dioica plant and has a complex peppery taste that resembles a mix of cinnamon, juniper, clove and nutmeg. To keep your gut healthy, Dr. Mercola recommends rubbing Jamaican allspice on your meat and vegetables or sprinkling it in your soups. It’s terrific for its anti-gas effects, and it aids digestion. Jamaican allspice also helps keep blood sugar under control, which is one of the primary ways to keep your arteries young.
3. Relieve Stiffness Due to Arthritis: Cinnamon
As we age, many of us may experience muscle and joint pain due to arthritis. Cinnamon contains anti-inflammatory compounds that can help relieve that pain. Furthermore, cinnamon’s antibiotic properties help prevent urinary tract infections, tooth decay and gum disease, and have been shown to kill the harmful bacteria, E.coli.
2. Fight Just About Everything: Cloves
Dr. Mercola describes cloves as “cinnamon on steroids.” Like cinnamon, cloves can be beneficial against muscle pains and arthritis. Of all spices, cloves received the highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) Score, meaning it is the highest in antioxidants. Additionally, cloves contain eugenol, which has mild anesthetic benefits useful for toothaches, gum pain, and sore throats. Cloves also offer relief from respiratory ailments such as asthma and bronchitis, and eliminate intestinal parasites, fungi, and bacteria. It makes you wonder, is there anything cloves can’t do?
1. Prevent Cancer and Alzheimer’s: Turmeric
Far too many of us have felt the effects of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease in our lives. Yet in India, where turmeric is widely used, the prevalence of the four most-common US cancers is 10 times lower. Researchers attribute this, in part, to curcumin, the compound that gives turmeric its yellow color. Laboratory studies suggest that curcumin is effective both in protecting against cancer and in inducing the programmed death of colon cancer cells. Furthermore, population studies have shown that elderly villagers in India appear to have the lowest rate of Alzheimer's disease in the world.
When it comes to combating aging, the best approach is adopting a healthy lifestyle. That means regular physical activity, quality sleep, and packing your diet full of healthy foods. According to Dr. Mercola, adding some or all of these spices to your cooking won’t just spice up your meal, it may just save your life.