Spices as Medicines

(and a few herbs and other plants as well)  I first published this in 2012, and have  updated it a little bit at the bottom.)

I read news this morning about a new strain of Superbug that is plaguing India; the piece explains the NDM-1 gene and plasmids that allow easy bacterial mutations; more than I can fully grasp in a reading.  (The piece neglects to mention how much the same causes occur in the US, of course.)  But antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains other than MRSA seem to be brewing and causing increasing alarm among health care organizations.  Global pandemics are apparently not unlikely, and finding reliable cures in what they’re calling ‘a post-antibiotic era’  frightening at the very least.   Chief causes seem to be over-prescribed antibiotics, patients historically not having completed the prescribed round of antibiotics, and antibiotics in animal feed.

As can happen when you read reports like the above, you feel the Purple Itch coming on, as though disease might be stalking your poor defenseless self.  So I dug out this list of spices and a few foods that have medicinal and healthful properties from an earlier publication, thinking some of you might like to consider them, and sharing them might make feel more proactive against bug-thoughts.  Brrrrr.  ;o)

There  have been studies indicating that colloidal silver (see below) has been efficacious with wiping out MRSA and other Superbugs.  I don’t know that it’s so, and please check further, but I do know that some nursing homes are starting to use it on stubborn bedsores.  This page is a starting point only.  We use Sovereign Silver brand; it seemed to have the best profile when I studied it a year or two ago.

Probiotics, especially multi-strain (see below) may help, but at the very least it’s better to have beneficial bacteria in your gut…than not, as in: fallow fields can be ripe for takeover by weeds.

If a product is foreign to you, even a spice, google it to see if you might have a condition or be taking a drug that might mean it’s potentially dangerous to you. These suggestions are only a starting point.  Add information or contra-indictions at will.

*Turmeric: Indian spice (yellow) constituent of curry powder; contains curcumin (not cumin or in Spanish: comino) which is anti-inflammatory for joints; aids in protein digestion.  New research shows it is an anti-cancer agent, and studies are under way to test a tweaked version on bowel tumors.  It figures prominently in both Ayurvedic medicine and Indian cooking.

Cinnamon:  contains eugenol, relieves pain, cinnamaldehyde is sedative, helps stop diarrhea, thins blood, lowers blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity

Ginger: anti-oxidant, helps cough and colds, aids nausea, reduces gassy-toots and hangovers, cuts mucous; opens pores to aid in sweat-cleansing, new studies find it beneficial in the treatment of ovarian cancer, reacts poorly with the drug Warfarin; don’t know in what amounts.

Fennel: settles nausea and vomiting, neutralizes stomach acidity

Garlic: antiseptic, anti-viral, anti-fungal, contains high amounts of sulfur, some studies suggest it may help prevent arterial plaque formation, lowers blood sugar, may lower blood pressure, acts as an expectorant in coughs and croup.

Chile peppers:  contain high amounts of capsicum, improves blood flow, lots of vitamins E and A, reduces ulcers, may inhibit cancer growth, reduces blood sugar levels.

Cardamom: used in south Asia to treat tuberculosis and lung inflammation, stomach ache, and aid digestion, wards off the evil-eye  😉

Basil: anti-inflammatory, helps colic (mild tea, or infusion)

Caraway seed:  diuretic, settles stomach

Cumin:  relieves gas, cook with dried beans to reduce fartiness.  Some say the seeds themselves are rich in iron and are thought to help stimulate the secretion of enzymes from the pancreas which can help absorb nutrients into the system. It has also been shown to boost the power of the liver’s ability to detoxify the human body.  Also, due to the presence of caffeine (the stimulating agent), the richly aromatic essential oils (the disinfectants) make cumin an ideal anti congestive combination for those suffering from respiratory disorders such as Asthma, Bronchitis etc.

Oregano:  herb, but especially in oil form has antiseptic and anti-microbial properties; rich in polyphenols, natural anti-oxidants, especially Mexican oregano

Dill: great and safe for colicky babies, high in anti-oxidants, great for new mothers to pass on to their babies

Celery seed: diuretic, lowers uric acid levels, can relieve gout; anti-inflammatory

Fenugreek: Stimulates milk supply in nursing mothers, lowers serum cholesterol and blood sugar, used in Chinese medicine to tonify kidneys

Dark chocolate: lowers blood pressure, contains anti-oxidants, increases blood flow, contains enzymes which aid the digestion of tomato-based dishes, i.e. chili and red pasta sauce.

Extra virgin olive oil: mechanically pressed, no chemicals in process, low-acid, high in polyphenol anti-oxidants, monounsaturated fats (oleic acid) which help vascular elasticity and help prevent heart disease, helps displace Omega-6 fats.

Live fermented pickles and sauerkraut: increase antibodies that fight infectious disease, strengthen the small intestine and helps inhibit pathogenic organisms (such as E.coli, salmonella and yeast overgrowth), high in antioxidants, generate omega-3 fatty acids.  Angostura Bitters: tincture of gentian root and flavoring herbs, eases stomach ache, indigestion, and cures hiccups
…………………………………………………………………….

Other beneficial home health care products:

Probiotics and yogurt: restores beneficial strains of bacteria to the stomach and intestines, increases immune-response, may help diverticulitis, aids digestion and elimination, multi-strains are best (9-14).  Always purchase shelf-stable capsules, but store in the refrigerator.  They cost a bit, but if the freeze-dried probiotics are truly live, you can use two caps to a quart of milk (page of hits for directions) with a cup or two of added dry milk solids and grow yogurt in ten or twelve hours in an oven with only the lightbulb as heat.

Udo’s Choice multi-strain shelf-stable brand always used to culture; some other brands…haven’t, which is vexing, as it means you wasted your hard-earned money.  Just try getting your money back, heh.  Come to think of it, culturing a couple caps is a good way to know if the bacteria IS live, even if you’d rather take the capsules.  Update: Nature’s Way, a rather inexpensive brand, IS culturing, thank goodness, but the Fortify sort avaiable here only contain three strains of bacteria.  If plain probiotic yogurt is available, 2 T of it should culture a quart of scalded milk.

Large flake nutritional yeast: cultured on molasses/sugar cane, yeast high in protein and B vitamins, often B-12 is added to make it complete B-complex, extremely yummy and healthful speed-blended into OJ or on popcorn, or in fried tofu.

Celadrin, topical lotion and oral:  joint pain, soft-tissue elasticity, joint inflammation and immobility, arthritis, cartilage thinning or hardening.  I like Now brand the best for both, and I can’t say enough about its efficacy for non-structural joint pain.  They make one with a bit of menthol that feels extra-good.  One potential drawback to the oral form is that for some users, it seems to have a similar effect to aspirin on platelet aggregation, at least on rats.

Hyaluronic acid: joint pain, cartilage (and disc) problems and re-moisturization

MSM (methysulfonylmethane): Chrohn’s disease, joint pain and immobility, osteoarthritis, seasonal rhinitis, bladder interstitial cystitis

Glucosamine sulphate: joint pain and disease, cartlilage renewal

L-lysine (amino acid): herpes simplex (cold sores), shingles (herpes zoster); you may never have them again if you take some at the first tingle.

L-glutamine: (amino acid) extreme diarrhea

GSE (grapefruit seed extract):  virus, bacterial infection, environmental disease, sensitivity to molds, mildews, and dust mites, sore throat or strep throat

Colloidal or ionic silver: infections, MRSA, viral diseases, earache, sinus infections;  Check for PPM, and particle size, read risks, I confess I take the heavy metal warnings with a grain of salt.

Stopain Extra Strength topical spray w/ MSM and glucosamine sulfate:  disc swelling, joint discomfort, inflammation.  We call it ‘the oil can’ at our house: a good way to start the day to ease crabby joints

Echinacea root:  colds, flu, cough

Osha root, tincture, spray or chewed root:  colds, flu, sore throat, respiratory infections

5-HTTP Amino acid preparation: depression, insomnia, more

Melatonin: insomnia

Oil of wild oregano: immune booster ,antiviral, antibacterial

[Good News Update]: Lechero brought news that a new study indicates that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric showed that it helps reduce the amyloid-beta protein  plaques that have been  implicated as causal in Alzheimer’s dementia.

[Second update]

On a recent thread at MoA on the zika virus, I’d contributed an ecowatch/Counterpunch essay postulating that the transgenic mosquitos constructed to sorta self-destruct in aid of ratcheting down dengue fever and other diseases might have mutated and were the culprits behind the possible increase in Zika cases and microcephaly in newborns.  But it caused me again to consider how many (hopefully) unintended consequences of transgenic foods have been poorly researched in the US, yet seem to be wreaking havoc with human health.

For instance: most corn (therefore corn syrup in so many processed foods) have been ‘modified’ with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensisthat was designed to bust the digestive systems of certain insects like corn borers and kill them.  In animals and humans, it seems to act like little pesticide factories in our guts, killing even the many sorts of beneficial bacteria required for good health.  It may be the same with Monsanto’s glyphosate (RoundUp) or 2-4D, I dunno what all.

It’s inarguable that more and more of us are developing food, mold and dust mite sensitivities, allergies, neurological/neuromuscular/auto-immune symptoms, compromised immunity,  that a long-ago friend reminded me recently are now considered underpinned by Leaky Gut Syndrome, which are arguably directly related to transgenic foods. Sources said:  ‘Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS) is a disorder which allows partially digested foods, toxins and bad bacteria to pass though the small intestine and into the blood stream. This event compromises the liver, the lymphatic system, and the immune response including the endocrine system.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating illness that affects adults and children alike. The illness is also known as chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS) or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME).

There are many schools of thought even in the naturopathic world, but my sense is that one needs to cleanse intestines, provide multi-strain probiotics (see the section above) regularly, and add L-glutamine amino acid to one’s system often to help restore the integrity of especially small intestines, thereby correcting some of the affects (and eat fewer GM products when possible).  Fresh fermented veggies as well (again, see above)… We use Wally World’s Equate brand (it tastes like Tang, the breakfast of astronauts!) of ground psyllium seeds and husks, sort of the poor person’s Metamucil, and two or three times a year do more complete intestinal flushes with increasing amounts over a few days.  Psyllium (an arbitrarily chosen link) swells to 100 times its original size in liquid, and is rather slippery, and can get into intestinal nooks and crannies to allow for more complete elimination.  Drink it quickly once you mix it in water: it thickens nastily in a hurry.  You’ll want to check out any of these items and usages online yourself, of course.

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