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Herbal Remedies off the Kitchen Shelf

Updated on July 12, 2011

Spice Up Your Life

The Indian method of cooking adds a number of powdered spices to each dish, this is not just to complicate the cooking, but to get all the health benefits associated with each of these herbs and spices. Yes this method of cooking is in practice since the Vedic times and each and every component that goes into cooking a dish makes it that much more healthy.

In this hub I will give you a peek into the traditional Indian "Masala Box" without which no Indian woman can cook. I will also explain the health benefits associated with each of the elements that are in the masala box. These powders and herbs greatly enhance the taste of any dish that you may wish to cook, but they also pack a healthy punch. So let's take a look at these spices and herbs which double up as healers.

The Masala Boxes

All images courtsey Flickr cc

Turmeric roots
Turmeric roots
Powdered turmeric
Powdered turmeric
Cumin Seeds
Cumin Seeds
Coriander Seeds
Coriander Seeds
Bay leaf
Bay leaf
Curry Leaves
Curry Leaves
Garlic braids
Garlic braids
Garlic pods
Garlic pods
Ginger root
Ginger root
Ginger sliced,julienne, diced, crushed, dried and powdered, and candied
Ginger sliced,julienne, diced, crushed, dried and powdered, and candied

Top Ten Spices and Herbs

There are a number of herbs and spices used in Indian cooking, and try as I will I can not cover them all in one hub. So here are the basics and the essentials. These are the ones that will always be used.


Indian name: Haldi

Turmeric is a root which is first dried and then roasted before it it ground and used as a powdered spice in the food. It is of redish yellow color. It also gives the food its distinctly yellow color.

Its health benefits are many. It is an antiseptic and is used both in food and externally. If you have a cold, you are advised to drink a warm glass of milk with half a spoon of roasted turmeric powder added to it.

If you have acne, you are asked to mix turmeric powder with gram flour and make a paste with lemon juice before you apply it to the face. Wash off after ten minutes and see that acne dry up


Indian name: Jeera

Cumin is used in its seed form as tempering for a number of dishes. It is also used as a powdered spice. The seeds are lightly roasted and then ground once they cool down. The taste of cumin can get a bit bitter if you overdo it.

It is a good source of iron and if you need to build up your hemoglobin levels you should use it liberally in your food. It is also great for producing heat in the body to speed up your metabolic levels. Want to lose weight? Eat cumin.

Cumin is also good for indigestion and flatulence. It is also antiseptic in nature and said to relive the stuffy feeling that comes with the common cold.


Indian name: Dhania

This is a versatile plant and you can use the seeds whole, or powdered to cook your curries. It is also possible to use the leaves of the plant as fresh herb garnishing for your curries. It is essential to the green chutney that is often used as an accompaniment with food.

It is a good source of iron and magnesium. Also rich in vitamins A,B and C. It helps in lowering blood sugar in diabetics. It is also good for digestion and flatulence troubles. Its anti-inflammatory properties help fight against urinary tract infections and reduce arthritic pains.

A teaspoon of coriander juice mixed with a pinch of turmeric powder and applied on the face will help reduce black heads and acne. It also moistens dry skin. Apply this mix on a washed face before you go to bed and wash the next morning.


Indian name : Elaichi

Cardamon is found in two forms. The smaller green pods and the larger brown pods. While the sweeter dishes tend to favor the green variety the savories generally use the brown one. The pods can be used whole or their seeds may be extracted and powdered for use.

Cardamon has detoxifying properties and is also anti inflammatory. It is supposed to help cure stomach cramps that come about from indigestion. It is also said to improve blood circulation to the lungs and so is good for those suffering from bronchial conditions and asthma.

The green pods are eaten whole as a mouth freshener. They are also supposed to speed up healing of mouth ulcers. Supposed to provide relief from nausea as well, so those who tend to get road sick will keep a pod in their mouth while traveling.


Indian name:Lavang

Used in both its powdered and naturally occurring form as a dried flower bud, cloves are a very versatile spice. It is supposed to have antimicrobial, antifungal, antiseptic, antiviral, aphrodisiac and stimulating properties.

The medicinal benefits of cloves have been well documented. It is good for tooth ache and you can keep one in the mouth for the essential oil to seep out and act as a painkiller. Great for blood circulation and digestion, cloves should be eaten in small quantities daily to benefit from their properties.

If you chose to use clove oil, be careful as the concentrated effect can pack quite a punch. It is great for de-stressing, blood purification and cure of infections.


Indian name: Dal Chini

Bark of a tree curled into sticks or powdered and used while cooking, the smell of cinnamon is as amazing as its unique taste and great health benefits. Good source of magnesium, clacium, iron and fiber.

What do arthritis, balding and kidney stones have in common? They all benefit from a daily dose of cinnamon. Has an anti clotting effect on blood and also kills bacteria in food. Said to help lower LDL cholestrol and be an efficient cure against yeast infections.

Regulates blood sugar in type 2 diabetics. Boosts memory skills and cognitive functioning. Highly effective against E.Coli bacteria.

Bay Leaf

Indian name:Tej Patta

It is the dried leaf of the Bay Laurel tree and is also known as sweet laurel for that reason. When added to a dish they provide vitamin A and C, also iron and manganese. Great for handling infections and skin diseases.

Antibacterial and anti-fungal properties make it a good cure for dandruff, cold and urinary infections. Bay leaf oil is also good for massages to de-stress and enhance blood circulation.

Keep a few bay leaves around the home to reduce insects in the surrounding area.

Curry Leaf

Indian name: Curry Patta

A standard part of the tempering in almost all Indian curries it adds that special taste and aroma. It is also good for the stomach and is used for dysentery, diarrhea and piles.

To stop premature greying of hair, heat oil and add a fistfull of curry leaves to it. Let them turn black. Strain the leaves out of the oil and use cooled oil to massage hair roots.

Mix lemon juice and honey with juice of curry leaves and drink as an antidote to nausea and vomiting.


Indian name: Lasun

The garlic pod is used whole in tempering, added as a paste to curries or crushed and sprinkled over vegetable dishes. It is also eaten sprouted and raw to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and purify the blood.

Its anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-oxidant properties make it a very popular herbal remedy for a number of diseases. It is used in everything from allergies, cold and coughs, diabetes, hypertension and a number of other things.

Its pungent effect on your breath may put you off, but believe me the health benefits far out weight the bad breath caused by garlic.


Indian name: Adrak

The ginger root is used in many ways. You can slice, dice, julienne, or crush it into your food. The dried and powdered form is called "saunth" in Hindi.

From cancer to morning sickness ginger is a highly effective herb in many medical conditions such as migraines, motion sickness and heartburn.

As a remedy for flatuenece and painful gas you can add ginger juice to some lemon and honey and drink it a spoon at a time.


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    • cashmere profile image

      cashmere 6 years ago from India

      I hope Ontarian that you have been disease free for a long time!

      Thank you BKCreative. Thankfully in India you can get all these herbs with great ease since most of them are used in cooking the Indian cuisine.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Another one of your amazing hubs for me to bookmark and share and use for reference! I am so lucky to live in NYC because I can find all the real herbs!

      Beautiful photos too - well I can go on and on but you know I am a BIG fan!

      Thanks so much!

    • profile image

      Ontarian Hawkins 8 years ago

      I really enjoyed this article here:) I just went to the doctor today for a check up and was talking to my Doc about natural (herbal ways) to assist in taking care of the body. This is right on time... Thank you and God Bless,


    • cashmere profile image

      cashmere 8 years ago from India

      Garam masala is a combination of powdered Cardamon, Cinnamon, Black Pepper,cloves, and nutmeg.

      It is also known as All Spice powder

    • sweetie1 profile image

      sweetie1 8 years ago from India

      It is nice one and though i know garam masala is not a masala as such but combination of various masalas but it does enhance the taste a lot and also we all know the medicinal benefits of termaric so it is very important too. ur list is very nice but i would like to add kali mirch in it too ( black pepper)

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 8 years ago from Guwahati, India

      Great informative hub but the spices used in cooking - are they truly good for health?

    • AlexK2009 profile image

      AlexK2009 8 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      I love to drink ginger tea with lemon and honey, and am glad to know it is good for me. Thanks

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      Great hub and great advice; some I knew but not all of them. I appreciated learning about them. I also would appreciate if you would be so kind and read some of my hubs. Thank you.

    • snehal welde profile image

      snehal welde 8 years ago

      great and informative hub