It’s one of those happy coincidences: Many of the flavors we like best come from herbs and spices that are also good for our health. And these daily herbs can affect more than just daily health problems. Oregano, for example, is an effective bacteria fighter. And turmeric, which adds a punch to Indian food, can relieve joint pain and asthma.
But the good news only extends so far: A fragrant pizza or a spicy curry is not the best way to take advantage of this nutritional bonanza. For herbs they are an area in which advice to the norm get their nutrients from the food instead of pills whenever possible-regardless applies always. In most cases, you simply can not get a high enough dose of what’s on your plate to give you maximum health benefit.
Sometimes, an herbal tea may help, but often you may have to go for a real supplement. Here are six herbs better than the pills that should be part of your kitchen cabinet and advice on the best way to use them.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
What is good for: This staple of Indian cuisine is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Some studies suggest that it works to relieve the pain of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It can also help with other inflammatory conditions, such as tendonitis, and can even protect the heart, given what we now know about the role of inflammation in heart disease.
The best dosage form and: Unlike many basic spice rack foods, you can get a therapeutic dose of turmeric from your food. A pinch per serving is all you need, says Reenita Malhotra, an Ayurvedic doctor in San Jose, California. In supplement form, take 4 grams of turmeric daily.
Warnings: Because turmeric powder is a powerful herb to cleanse the blood, use it in moderation.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
What is good for: As a natural anti-nausea remedy, this tasty root has few equal. Most research shows that it is effective against morning sickness and nausea after chemotherapy, and in several studies it was even better than Dramamine in the prevention of movement sickness.
The best form and dosage: For dizziness, take 500 mg of the powder extract 30 minutes before traveling, and then every four hours until the end of your trip. Or prepare an infusion (in which you let the tea steep for ten to 15 minutes) by adding 1¼4 to 1 gram of ginger to the boiling water; Drink up to three times a day.
Warnings: Do not exceed 2 grams of ginger per day if you are pregnant, and if you have a tendency to heartburn, you can take it with food.
Garlic (Allium sativum)
What’s good for: The spicy and popular bulb is particularly heart-friendly: In several studies, patients with atherosclerosis who took garlic significantly reduced plaque in the arteries, says Mark Blumenthal, founder and CEO of the Austin , Texas- based American Botanical Council. “Garlic slightly lowers LDL, or bad cholesterol and increases HDL, the good kind,” he explains. “It also reduces blood pressure and reduces the chance of a stroke, since less plaque means there is less chance that the pieces will break off from the walls of the arteries and lodge in the brain or heart.”
The best form and dosage: For the health of the arteries, take 200 to 300 milligrams of standardized garlic powder three times a day.
Warnings: If you regularly take aspirin or warfarin (Coumadin), do not add extra garlic, as it can dilute the blood too much. “For the same reason, stop taking garlic one to two weeks before surgery,” says James Snow, president of the herbal division of the botanical healing program at the Sophia Tai Institute in Laurel, Maryland.
Mint (Mentha x piperita)
What is good for: You would be hard pressed to find an herb that calms the stomach better than mint (hence mint after dinner). “It’s great for any type of digestive upset,” says Bunting. And peppermint oil, which comes in enteric-coated capsules, is one of the most effective natural treatments for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Because the capsules are coated, as they pass through the stomach and in the intestines, where they have an antispasmodic effect on the muscles that decomposes during IBS, leading to diarrhea and / or constipation, main symptoms of the disease .
The best way and dosage: For run-of-the-mill upset stomach, plain peppermint tea can help age.To treat IBS, take a capsule containing 0.2 milliliters of essential peppermint oil one to three times a day. day with water and before meals.
Warnings: “Peppermint will cause heartburn and worsen acid reflux in some people,” says Snow. If you experience any of these problems, stop taking the herb.
Salvia (Salvia officinalis)
What’s good for: Sage has long been thought of as a brain-wise reinforcement in traditional herbal medicine, it turns out, since research is adding credibility to this ancestral use. In a small British study of healthy adults, participants who took capsules of Spanish salvia oil obtained better results in a test of reminder words than those of a control group. A compound in the plant appears to inhibit the same enzyme that is attacked by medications used to treat memory loss in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (although so far no one has studied the effect of the herb in real Alzheimer’s patients).
Sage is also a classic remedy for sore throat due to its antiseptic action, says Bunting.
The best form and dosage: Alzheimer’s patients should take 30 drops of the liquid extract two to three times a day, Bunting says, as can a healthy person who is looking to stay in shape. For sore throat, try some sage tea or gargle with a very diluted solution of liquid (10 to 20 drops) dissolved in a cup of warm water.