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Health Benefits of Herbs and Spices in Soups & Stews

Updated on May 4, 2018
rmcrayne profile image

In health care since 1977, but keenly aware of Western medicine's shortcomings, Rose Mary began exploring natural health in the late 1990s.

Coriander, turmeric, curry powder, chili powder, black pepper, cumin, rosemary, cardamom, cayenne pepper, tarragon, oregano
Coriander, turmeric, curry powder, chili powder, black pepper, cumin, rosemary, cardamom, cayenne pepper, tarragon, oregano | Source

Why do we use herbs and spices when we cook? For flavor, right? Yes, they are flavorful, but they also have numerous health benefits. Examples of beneficial properties include improved digestion, decreased inflammation, improved circulation, decreased cholesterol, and relief of migraines. I have summarized health-enhancing properties of herbs and spices commonly used in soups and stews.

Herbs and spices presented in this article:

Cardamom

Coriander

Rosemary

Turmeric

Tarragon

Marjoram

Cayenne Pepper

Peppercorns

Cumin

Chili Powder

Curry Powder

Benefits of Herbs and Spices Commonly Used in Soups & Stews

Herbs and spices aren't just for flavor

I use chili powder, cumin, cardamom, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, garlic, and black pepper in my homemade vegetable soup
I use chili powder, cumin, cardamom, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, garlic, and black pepper in my homemade vegetable soup | Source

Benefits of Herbs and Spices to Prevent Cancer

Cardamom

Cardamom
Cardamom | Source

Cardamom, native to India, is in the same family as ginger. Cardamom was recognized for its healing properties by the Romans and Greeks, and has been used in Ayurveda thousands of years. Cardamom aids digestion and treats cramping, gas, and indigestion. While it can be used to stimulate appetite, it also boosts metabolism. Cardamom helps with respiratory inflammation, and combats urinary tract and yeast infections. It may also be effective in boosting the spirit.

Coriander Seeds

Coriander Seeds
Coriander Seeds | Source

Coriander seeds are the seeds of the cilantro plant. They hold an important place in the history of many cultures, dating as far back as the 10th century. The Egyptians included coriander in their burial offerings. The Greeks used coriander as an aphrodisiac, and the Chinese believed it promoted immortality. Coriander stimulates appetite and improves digestion, and relieves spasms and gas. Coriander is said to “contribute energy on a psychic level”, support the expression of thoughts and emotions, and relieve migraines.

Rosemary

rosemary
rosemary | Source

Rosemary, an evergreen plant, was used by ancient Greeks as an offering to their goddess of love, Aphrodite. Greek students wore rosemary around their necks to promote memory. In the Middle Ages, rosemary was valued for both memory and fidelity. Brides used it in wreaths to fortify loyalty in their mates. Hospitals in the early 1900s burned rosemary in hospitals to purify the air. Today we use rosemary to facilitate circulation and menstruation. Rosemary aids in the treatment of colds, headaches, fatigue, and irritability. Used as a compress, rosemary eases achy muscles, arthritis pain, and skin irritations.

Turmeric Root

Turmeric Root
Turmeric Root | Source

Turmeric root is a member of the ginger family, and has been valued by Ayurveda and Chinese medicine for centuries. Turmeric was used for the treatment of gallbladder, liver, and kidney problems. We now recognize these benefits, as well as other important healing properties. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, increases insulin efficiency, combats fungal infections, and eases digestive problems. It lowers cholesterol and inhibits undesired blood clotting, which may help prevent strokes and heart attacks.

Video on Turmeric Root

Tarragon

Tarragon
Tarragon | Source

Tarragon’s flavor resembles a mild licorice flavor. It was used in the Middle Ages for poisonous snakebites. It is a folk remedy for toothache because chewing on the leaves numbs the mouth. Tarragon stimulates appetite and treats digestive problems. Tarragon may support menstruation, combat fatigue, and calm nerves. Use as a salt substitute to help lower blood pressure.

Growing Tarragon

Marjoram

Marjoram
Marjoram | Source

Marjoram is a cousin to oregano. It has been used for flavor and healing since ancient times. Marjoram was believed to be a favorite of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, and thought to be an aphrodisiac. People in the Middle Ages used marjoram for the treatment of stomach ailments, abdominal cramps, headaches, and neuralgia. Today we recognize marjoram for stimulating appetite and promoting digestion. It loosens mucus. Marjoram induces diuresis and sweating. It has antispasmodic, analgesic, and sedative effects.

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne Pepper | Source

Cayenne pepper, or red pepper, as all peppers, belongs to the genus Capsicum. Their heritage as a healing herb is not as storied as some of the other herbs. When Columbus brought pepper to Europe, they enjoyed popularity- as ornamental plants! Not only was cayenne pepper, one of the hottest of the peppers, not appreciated for medicinal properties in the Old World, but medical providers cautioned against eating them! Cayenne was however applied externally to stimulate skin circulation, and ease the symptoms of rheumatism and sciatica. Today naturopaths use cayenne to promote digestion and stimulate circulation.

Benefits of Capsaicin

Mixed Peppercorns

Mixed variety peppercorns
Mixed variety peppercorns | Source

Peppercorns come in black, green, red, and white. They are the berries of vines that grow in extremely hot climates. Pepper has been valued for thousands of years as currency, used for taxes, and as offerings to the gods. The quest for pepper spurred ancient explorers to discover new continents. Pepper was thought to help treat pain, rheumatism, poisonous bites, impotence, loss of appetite, and gastrointestinal problems. Today pepper is recognized to have mild antibacterial and stimulating properties, which may relieve ailments such as loss of appetite, nausea, bloating, and constipation.

Cumin Seeds

Cumin Seeds
Cumin Seeds | Source

Cumin is from the seeds of a flowering herb in the parsley family. It has been used in food preparation for at least 5000 years. Cumin’s healing properties are valued today in Ayurvedic and natural medicine. It has antiseptic properties. Cumin is thought to stimulate pancreatic enzyme secretions, which helps the body absorb nutrients. Additionally, it fortifies the liver’s function of detoxifying the body. Cumin seeds have been shown to decrease the risks of liver and stomach tumors in lab animals.

In Case You're Wondering...

Chili Powder

Chili Powder
Chili Powder | Source

Chili powder is a blend of peppers and other herbs and spices. Alton Brown, of Food Network, posts a recipe with ancho, cascabel, and arbol chili peppers, cumin seeds, oregano, smoked paprika, and dried oregano. Chilies and cumin seeds are heated in a sauté pan for 5 minutes, then cooled and combined with the other ingredients in a blender.

Capsaicin is the active ingredient in chili peppers, and has many benefits. It is a prostate cancer fighter, pain reliever, fat burner, and heart protector. Capsaicin also relieves congestion, prevents sinusitis, relieves inflammation such as arthritis and psoriasis, and fights intestinal diseases such as irritable bowel.

Curry Powder

Curry powder
Curry powder | Source

Curry powder is also a blend of herbs and spices. Again I went to Alton Brown, whose recipe uses cumin, coriander, and cardamom seeds, along with turmeric, dry mustard, and cayenne pepper.

Resource

The Complete Guide to Natural Healing
The Complete Guide to Natural Healing | Source

Information is from The Complete Guide to Natural Healing by International Masters Publishing. It’s one of those sets where they send card sets in the mail every couple weeks. I thought it was going to be one binder full, but ultimately was 5! Here’s a Ripoff Report. This would be one of those situations where my mom says “you musta had more money than sense”. At any rate, the cards are very well done, and I like most everything about them except what I wound up paying for them.

Disclaimer

This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You take full legal responsibility for whatever decisions you make regarding your own health care.

Not all physicians, nutritionists and pharmacists are expert at herbs, or with potential medication interactions. Consider consulting a herbalist for individualized evaluation and treatment strategies.

Planting an Herb Garden

© 2010 rmcrayne

Comments

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  • jenniferg78 profile image

    jenniferg78 

    6 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

    Fantastic, interesting and informative hub. I love experimenting with spices and learning new Indian recipes from my friends grandmother. Thanks for all the useful information.

  • melodyandes profile image

    melodyandes 

    7 years ago

    Awesome hub! Very useful as we get medicines from what we eat.

  • rmcrayne profile imageAUTHOR

    rmcrayne 

    8 years ago from San Antonio Texas

    Thanks for the comment ravenlord. You're very lucky to have your uncle and his education to you. I had constant infections about 15 years ago (you can read about that in my sinusitis hub).

  • ravenlord profile image

    ravenlord 

    8 years ago from Québec , Canada

    Wow great hub , I have learned about all the different herbs and spices from my uncle about 25 years ago . He introduced me to them and I never looked back . I cannot remember the last time I have been really sick , my immune system i believe is top notch mainly due to these herbs , spices and supplements .

  • rmcrayne profile imageAUTHOR

    rmcrayne 

    8 years ago from San Antonio Texas

    Thanks Teresa. My occupational therapy tech that I superise is Indian. She recommends making tumeric something you use everyday. I wrote on of my Body Ecology hubs on mineral rich sea salts.

  • eventsyoudesign profile image

    eventsyoudesign 

    8 years ago from Nashville, Tennessee

    Good article. I am always interested in natural healing. Herbs are great for you and are always beneficial to your health. I eat raw garlic everyday and season my foods as well. I use sea salt not table salt. I like your hub and will read more. Teresa

  • rmcrayne profile imageAUTHOR

    rmcrayne 

    8 years ago from San Antonio Texas

    Thanks for the compliments habee and ethel. You're so right ethel. I'm going to start increasing the herbs I use in dishes, maybe double. The video by the MD on cancer statistics in cultures like Indian culture, who use a lot of spices, vs the rest of us was very compelling.

  • rmcrayne profile imageAUTHOR

    rmcrayne 

    8 years ago from San Antonio Texas

    Same here viking. I'm going to use most of the above spices, plus a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, in my vegan chili. Also there are several good Indian restaurants in San Antonio that have buffets. I'm going to try to eat at one at least once or twice a month.

  • ethel smith profile image

    Ethel Smith 

    8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

    What a well laid out and written hub. We still underestimate such herbs abd spices,don't we?

  • habee profile image

    Holle Abee 

    8 years ago from Georgia

    Wonderful tips about herbs! Love the layout, too!

  • viking305 profile image

    L M Reid 

    8 years ago from Ireland

    That was a lot of very interesting information. I am going to give some of the herbs I do not usually use in my cooking a go, just for the extra health benefits

  • rmcrayne profile imageAUTHOR

    rmcrayne 

    8 years ago from San Antonio Texas

    Thanks for your kind comment 2besure.

  • 2besure profile image

    Pamela Lipscomb 

    8 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

    What a beautiful hub, great information and great pictures.

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