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Mint exerts a wide range of health benefits. Like their aromatic plants, their primary application has been as a carminative and digestent.
The oil of the peppermint plant is an excellent example. It has been shown to relieve spasm of the gastrointestinal tract and gas. In fact a enteric coated peppermint oil capsule has been shown to be very effective in reliving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Peppermint oil relaxes smooth muscle. Once the smooth muscles surrounding the intestine are relaxed, there is less chance of spasm and the indigestion that can accompany it. Peppermint contains a compound known as perillyl alcohol that has been shown to inhibit the growth or formation of cancer. It also contains the substance rosmarinic acid, a powerful antioxidant that blocks the production of allergy – producing leukotrienes. The high content of rosmarinic acid may be the season extracts of peppermint have been shown to help relieve the nasal symptoms of allergic rhinitis (hay fever)


Mustard seeds - like other cabbage - family vegetables mustard seeds contain plentiful amount of phytochemicals called glucosinolates and and isothiocyanates. These compounds have been repeatedly studied for their anticancer effects.

Nutmeg - nutmeg as both a dried spice and an essential oil is used as a carminative (to lessen gas formation and prevent flatulence). An ointment made with nutmeg butter has also been used as a counterirritant to treat rheumatism. Nutmeg has been found to be an effective ant diarrhea agent, reducing the amount of stool, increasing the period between evacuations, and improving intestinal tone while inhibiting the contractions that would normally be stimulated by irritating agents. In addition, nutmeg's demonstrated sedative effects had no harmful effects on blood pressure.
in various studies, nutmeg oil has expedited considerable antibacterial activity against 25 different species of bacteria, including animal and plant pathogens, and food poisoning and spoilage bacteria.

The results of these studies provide scientific support for the traditional use of nutmeg as a food preservative, disinfectant, and antiseptic.

Pepper (black)  - pepper is valued not only for culinary purposes but also for its medicinal applications for treatment of digestive disorders. Black pepper has diaphoretic, carminative and diuretic properties. It also stimulates the taste buds in a manner that causes an increase in stomach acid secretion, thereby improving digestion. Black pepper has demonstrated impressive antioxidant and antibacterial properties as well, and the outer layer of the peppercorn has been proven to stimulate the breakdown of fat cells.

Many of the benefits of black pepper are due to the compound piperine. Piperine has been shown to

- dramatically increase the absorption of certain nutrients, such as selenium, B vitamins and beta-carotene.

- support and assist the body's natural thermogenic activities

- support and enhance the liver's detoxification process.

Saffron –has been used as and aphrodisiac, diaphoretic (to cause sweating), carminative (to prevent gas) and emmenagogue (to bring on menstruation). In Japan saffron is encapsulated and used as a sleep aid and in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Modern research suggests the spice may provide protection against cancer, memory loss, heart disease, and inflammation.
Saffron contains a dark orange, water – soluble carotene called crocin, which is responsible for golden color. It has potent antioxidant and anticancer effects, which may help explain saffron’s historical use in cancer treatment.
Crocin has been fount do trigger apoptosis (programmed cell death) in a number of different types of human cancer cells, including murine tumors, liver cancer and leukemia.
In studies conducted in China, saffron has demonstrated anticancer activity against a wide spectrum of cancers, including leukemia, ovarian carcinoma, colon Aden carcinoma, papilloma, and soft tissue sarcoma, and has also been used to protect against coronary heart disease and hepatitis and to promote a healthy immunity.
Researchers in Mexico discovered that saffron extract and several its active components display a dose – dependent ability to inhibit human malignant cells but also actually stimulates their formation and that of lymphocytes (immune cells that help destroy cancer cells)
Recent studies have also demonstrated that saffron extract, specifically its crocin, promotes learning and memory retention in experimental animals. On the basis of the early research, scientist are hopeful that saffron may be useful as a treatment for age-related mental impairment.
Saffron also has demonstrated protective effects against heart disease.

Turmeric – is used as an anti-inflammatory agent and in the treatment of numerous conditions, including flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, hemorrhage, toothache, bruises, chest pain and colic. Turmeric poultices are often applied locally to relieve inflammation and pain. Turmeric is splendid against skin diseases

Curcumin, turmeric’s yellow pigment, has demonstrated significant anti-flamantory activity in a variety of experimental models.
Other clinical studies have further substantiated curumin’s anti-inflammatory effects in rheumatoid arthritis. In the study curcumin was compared to phenylbutazone. The improvements in the duration of morning stiffness, walking time, and joint swelling were comparable in both groups.
Curcumin helps the body to destroy mutated cancer cells, so the cannot spared through the body and cause more harm.
Some of curcumin’s benefits come from its know activity as an antioxidant but curcumin also
- Inhibits the formation of cancer causing nitrosamines
- Promotes the liver’s properdetoxification of cancer-causing compounds
- Prevents overproduction cyclooxygenase 2 (COX – 2), an enzyme that may contribute to the development of tumors. Regarding the heart disease turmeric not only helps to lower cholesterol it also prevents the oxidation of cholesterol.
- Since oxidized cholesterol is what damages blood vessels and builds up in the plaques that can lead to heart attack or stroke, preventing the oxidation of new cholesterol may help to reduce the progression of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease.

Click here for more information and research about curcumin>>

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Source: The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods - Michael Murray


 The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods


  The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

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