13 spices and their health benefits according to Ayurveda

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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From flatulence to stomach ache, Ayurveda recommends that spices can be used to alleviate your health problems. Come, find out more.

If you think spices only add flavour and fragrance to your food, you’ve probably been living under a rock! For the longest time, spices have been utilized for their medicinal properties – be it individually or as a part of a food preparation. And Ayurveda totally recommends them!

Something as small as spices can be preventive! The antioxidants, minerals and vitamins found in spices are considered very effective for the upkeep of one’s health.

From boosting immunity to preventing diseases like cold, viral and flu, spices are wonder ingredients in the kitchen.

According to Ayurveda, spices can be hot or cold and they are used to balance the digestive system and treat various diseases. Spices act as stimulants of the digestive system and are beneficial in stomach ailments. Some spices also act as antiseptic or antimicrobial.

Come find out more about the medicinal uses of some common spices, as per Ayurveda:

Turmeric (Haldi):

  • Antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties in turmeric help in reducing acne. Turmeric paste keeps the skin glowing and healthy.
  • Applying turmeric paste is beneficial in sprain or bone fracture.
  • Adding one-fourth or half teaspoon of turmeric powder to food in the morning and evening can help reduce blood sugar.
  • In case of jaundice, dissolve half a teaspoon of turmeric in buttermilk.
turmeric in Ayurveda
Turmeric is a great addition to your food, and can be used in your beauty regime. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Cumin (Jeera):

  • Consume cumin in stomach pain, indigestion, and diarrhea.
  • Mixing one teaspoon of roasted cumin powder in a glass of water relieves stomach ache.
  • Drinking roasted cumin powder in buttermilk prevents stomach problems.
  • Women must consume cumin regularly in case of stress, fatigue and anemia.
  • Cumin is also considered useful in increasing memory. Therefore, chew half a teaspoon of roasted cumin seeds daily and eat it.
  • Boil a pinch of cumin powder, rock salt and half a teaspoon of fennel in a glass of water in gas and stomach pain. Filter it and drink it.

3. Carom seeds (Ajwain):

  • Grind one part carom seeds, half part black pepper and rock salt. Take 1-2 grams with lukewarm water. It helps in stomach-related diseases.
  • Any person, who is not able to digest milk properly, should have some ajwain after drinking it.
  • In case of indigestion or stomach ache, mix ajwain with rock salt and take it with lukewarm water.
  • In case of flatulence or gas in the stomach, add a small amount of asafoetida powder to the ajwain powder. Its application gives immediate benefits.

4. Asafoetida (Heeng):

  • Mix half a teaspoon asafoetida powder in a glass of warm water. This helps in digestion of food and removes indigestion.
  • Grind asafoetida in water and make it lukewarm. Apply it on the chest. It is beneficial in asthma, whooping cough, inflammation of the lungs.
  • Mixing equal quantity of black salt, shunthi powder and asafoetida powder in half a teaspoon lukewarm water provides relief in back pain.
  • Heat the asafoetida a little. Apply it on the tooth and long press where the worms are present. This destroys the worm infestation.

5. Coriander (Dhaniya):

  • If you feel excessive thirst, mix sugar candy in coriander water and drink it, it ends thirst due to bile. Take a spoonful of coriander powder or a decoction of whole coriander fruits in vomiting or burning in the throat.
  • In fever, soaking coriander powder in cold water overnight and filtering it in the morning add sugar candy and drink.
  • In cough and asthma, using one spoon coriander powder, rice water and one spoon sugar candy is beneficial.
  • Make a decoction of half teaspoon coriander powder and half teaspoon dry ginger powder and drink it, it ends stomachache and indigestion.
  • In skin diseases (urticaria), the juice of coriander leaves should be applied with honey.
  • In joint pain, mix 3-6 grams of coriander powder with 10 grams of sugar and eat it in the morning and evening. This gives relief in pain.

6. Red Chilli (lal mirch)

  • In case of heavy cough, mixing red chilli powder with almonds and sugar and consuming it by making a tablet of 125 mg, is beneficial. Take care of the pitta prakriti while using it.
  • One gram red chilli powder mixed with 100 grams of jaggery. Taking a 1-2 grams tablet of this can give relief from abdominal pain.
  • After vomiting and diarrhea, a patient can draw the benefit of this spice by taking 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder, a pinch of asafoetida and camphor.
  • Massaging chilli oil in sciatica, paresthesia and sciatica is beneficial.
    It is locally applied in diphtheria and laryngitis.

7. Fenugreek (methi dana):

  • Soak 4-5 spoons of fenugreek seeds overnight. Grind it in the morning and apply it on the roots of the hair, wash the hair after one hour. Applying twice or thrice a week stops hair fall.
  • If half a teaspoon of fenugreek powder is consumed regularly in the morning and evening, it lowers cholesterol.
  • Make a powder of fenugreek, chandrashoor, kalonji and ajwain. Taking one spoon with lukewarm water on an empty stomach in the morning and evening is beneficial in diseases related to gas, indigestion, abdominal pain, flatulence and backache.
  • Take one teaspoon fenugreek powder daily in the morning and evening on an empty stomach with lukewarm water to control blood sugar.
  • Make a tea of fenugreek powder and drink it with a little honey to overcome menstrual problems (abdominal pain, excessive bleeding).
cardamom in Ayurveda
Cardamons may be small in size, but they are big on benefits! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

8. Small cardamon (elaichi):

  • In problems like indigestion, gas, acidity, constipation, chewing two or three cardamoms gives relief.
  • To remove sore throat, eat half to 1 gram cardamom powder mixed with honey before sleeping at night.
  • To get rid of bad breath, eat cardamom seeds.
  • To cure vomiting and nausea, wrap cardamom, ginger and mint in cotton bandage and sniff it, it provides relief in nausea.
  • Make a paste of two big cardamoms and two small cardamoms in cold water. It gives benefit in vomiting.
  • Drinking cardamom tea relieves stress. It is also beneficial in stomach and respiratory diseases.

9. Cloves (laung):

  • Drink clove powder with lukewarm water in gas, burning sensation, indigestion and vomiting.
  • If there is severe pain in the tooth, apply a little clove oil in the cotton swab and keep it here where the tooth is hurting, it gets immediate relief.
  • It helps to remove acne and gives relief from the burning sensation of acne. You can use it by making a face pack of cloves.
  • If pregnant women complaints of vomiting and nausea, sucking 1-2 cloves is useful.
  • To get rid of bad breath, 1-2 cloves should be chewed and eaten.

10. Black Pepper (kali mirch):

  • In cough and cold, take half a teaspoon black pepper powder mixed with honey.
  • Eat or chew four to five whole black peppercorns with batasha.
  • In skin disorders, apply black pepper powder mixed with cow’s ghee.
  • In cold, take one gram of black pepper powder mixed with jaggery and curd.
  • To increase appetite, take one gram of black pepper powder with ghee.

11. Fennel (saunf):

  • In digestive disorders (abdominal pain, flatulence, gas formation) take a spoonful of fennel powder mixed with sugar candy after food.
  • If there is bad breath with breathlessness, then chew fennel seeds.
  • Constipation is relieved by drinking decoction of fennel.
  • By taking fennel steam on the eyes if there is burning or itching sensation in the eyes gives relief.
  • In asthma and cough, take one spoon of fennel powder mixed with ghee.

12. Dry Ginger (saunth):

  • Take equal amounts of dry ginger powder, fenugreek powder, carom seeds. Make a powder and take one spoon on an empty stomach with lukewarm water in the morning and evening in joint pain.
  • In stomach-related diseases like indigestion, stomach ache, take 1-2 spoons of dry ginger powder mixed with ghee.
  • Take half a teaspoon of dry ginger powder and mix it with lukewarm water in loose motions, stomach ulcers etc.
  • If more phlegm is being formed in winter, take ginger juice with honey or take half a teaspoon of dry ginger in milk and drink it.

13. Cinnamon (dalchini):

  • Take one gram cinnamon powder with lukewarm water in diarrhea.
  • Chew a piece of cinnamon in case of tooth worms.
  • Take it to remove bad breath in the mouth.
  • In indigestion or itching, take one gram cinnamon powder mixed with one spoon of honey.

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