As foods we eat are our gross nutrition the herbs and spices are the micro-nutrition. Both work in synergy to create a balanced diet. My grandmother always had common remedies access right from her kitchen cabinet. I grew up absorbing what she extruded in simple ways. As I grew up it had deep impact on my day to day life.
Now as an Alternative Medicine Ayurveda Practitioner I have amalgamated my childhood learning in abstract with my know how of the herbs thru the practice into a boon of everyday learning experientially.
Every kitchen cabinet spice rack should have the following:
This is just a primary list you are free to add as you learn more and witness the ample benefits of these micro-nutrients in your foods:
Alfalfa; green or seeds ; it is alterative (restores health), diuretic , anti -pyretic ( against fever) and hemostatic ( stops flow of blood in bleeding disorders ), it is a powerhouse of natural mineral and vitamin contains calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium. And it is high in chlorophyll making it a mild blood purifier and good antioxidant use seeds or greens
Asafoetida: a resin-gum from root; it is pungent in taste with heating effect and pungent in post digestive effects, it is use to reduce the flatulence causing properties in foods especially beans & lentils, good to eliminate worms from body, used in low doses due to its aromatic nature, it cleans stagnation in digestive tract by improving the intestinal flora and strengthen digestive fire, mixed in warm oil and administered into the belly button can calm a colic attack in children as well as in adults.
Black pepper: is a fruit which is pungent and heating and has pungent post digestive effect works well on digestive stimulant, circulatory and respiratory systems, it works well in case of chronic indigestion, obesity, sinus congestion, toxins in colon, fever, and cold extremities, with honey it is powerful expectorant (mucus cleanser), it is good antidote for cool foods like cucumber and raw salads
Ajwain seeds or Wild Celery seeds; are pungent in taste and heating in effect with pungent post digestive effects. Works on digestive, respiratory and nervous systems, digestive stimulant, expectorant (breaks mucus), good in asthma, cough and cold, diuretic in properties, it improves appetite, and promotes kidney functions
Black cardamom: a fruit pod with seeds which are used in cooking, it is pungent and sweet in taste but heating and pungent in post digestive effect making it a great stimulant, expectorant, carminative, stomachic and diaphoretic spice, it rekindles digestive fire, when added to milk it neutralizes its mucus forming properties good for opening good flow of Prana in the body
Cumin seeds: cooling because it is bitter and pungent, but it is carminative alterative and stimulant for digestion Aids Digestion. Thymol, a compound in cumin, is known to stimulate the glands that secrete acids, bile and enzymes, Boosts Immune System. Treats Respiratory Disorders, Promotes Skin Health, Treats Insomnia, Prevents Diabetes, Has Antiviral and Antibacterial Properties & High Source of Iron.
Green cardamom: is aromatic, pungent & sweet, cooling in effect and sweet in post digestive taste and can Use it to combat nausea, acidity, bloating, gas, heartburn, loss of appetite, constipation, and much more. This spice helps the body eliminate waste through the kidneys. It is used as a breath freshener and has natural blood thinning quality.
Coriander seeds; fruit part of the plant, it is diuretic, diaphoretic, carminative and stimulant, good for burning urethra, sore throat, urinary tract infections, indigestion, good as anti-inflammatory , it improves digestion and absorption, it can be used together with cumin & fennel seeds for synergy effect on digestive system.
Dill seeds or Caraway seeds: it is pungent and bitter in taste, cooling in effect with pungent post digestive taste, it is used as a carminative spice, alternative (restores normal health) and expectorant (eliminates mucus) May Help Reduce Menstrual Cramps, Helps Reduce Depression, Lowers Cholesterol, Act as a Natural Bug Repellent, Provides a Source of Energy and Aids in Digestion through Beneficial Fatty Acids, Contains Antimicrobial Effects, Protects Against Free Radicals. The famous formulation of gripe water key ingredient is Dill seeds.
Curcuma fresh or powder: generally known as Turmeric; it is root of the plant, bitter astringent and pungent in taste, heating to body and pungent in post digestive state therefore used in small quantities only, it is antibacterial, antifungal, stimulant and carminative, used in poor circulation conditions, arthritis, anemia, wound healing and sore muscles, it is mother nature’s antibiotic that improves intestinal flora. Its energy is of Divine mother and sattvic in nature, promotes digestion of protein. A powerful tonic for skin conditions like acne & eczema.
Fennel seeds: fruit seeds of a plant, it is sweet, pungent in taste cooling to system and sweet in post digestive effects, used as carminative, stomachic, stimulant, diuretic, benefits in abdominal pains, cramps or gas, burning urination, calming to nerves as in children colic (gripe water popular medicine for colic conditions), improves digestion eaten roasted or raw or made into a hot steeped tea with seeds, combine well with coriander seeds
Fenugreek seeds: fruits of the plant both green leaves and seeds are used in cooking , it is bitter, pungent & sweet in taste, heating in effect and pungent in post digestive effect , it is used as stimulant, tonic, diuretic, expectorant and aphrodisiac, used in chronic cough, allergies, bronchitis, toothache , sciatica and arthritis. Do not use in pregnancy but post -delivery it is good to have as it promotes vaginal bleeding and promotes breast milk. It is good as liver cleanse, and good for hair growth.
Cinnamon: is a bark of tree that is used it is sweet / pungent/ and astringent in taste which has a heating effect and has sweet post digestive taste often used for strengthening and harmonizing flow of circulation, it is good diaphoretic and expectorant, used in pain relief of toothache and muscle tension, it makes the heart strong, warms the kidneys and improves digestive fire. It is sattvic beverage as a tea and great for blood circulation
Ginger fresh & powder : the root is used it is pungent & sweet in taste, heating in effect and sweet is post digestive taste making it tridoshic in its benefits to all Dosha types be it VATA, Pitta or Kapha types, it works on digestion and respiratory systems, excellent sattvic spice and is considered as “ vishwabheshak” the universal medicine among all spices, dry ginger powder is stronger than its fresh forms, good anti-inflammatory agent in arthritis , relieves gas and bloating including menstruation cramps, good for heart, topically its paste in water can relieve pain and headache.
Cloves; is dried flower buds of the plant, pungent in taste heating in affect and pungent in post digestive effects, aromatic for lungs and stomach, they dispel chills and disinfect the lymphatics, its volatile oils are powerful analgesic ( pain relief e.g. toothache)
Onion seeds; pungent and sweet in taste, heating in body and sweet post digestive it is diaphoretic, tonic and aphrodisiac and excellent for pain relief, its oil is used in arthritic conditions or as a tincture
Hence making use of the spices and herbs as your first aid will not only benefit you to heal but prevent many common ailments. More you learn more you can benefit from them. Nature is ample rich in its power to maintain our balance in the body, mind and spirit.
Hope this helps you to begin a new learning this is just the tip of the iceberg. Be creative and explore more into the world of micro-nutrition. As you explore you can add to this primary list of spices and herbs and build your own cabinet full of ancient wisdom ready for you as your foremost place to go for healing.