Next time you are reaching for the spices in your cabinet, you might be doing more for your health than just making a great dinner. Traditional Chinese Medicine and other Eastern traditions have been using herbs and spices to cure common illnesses and maintain good health for centuries. For instance, Chinese doctors have used ginger since ancient times to cure aches and pains. A traditional Indian beauty trick is to spread turmeric paste on the skin to purify it and prevent pimples. Below are a few spices that can help you to feel better and live longer!
Ginger for digestion
Best known in the West for its antinausea properties, ginger has probably been in the longest continuous use of any botanical remedy in the world. The Chinese use it for both medicinal and culinary purposes, frequently in cooking seafood, since it acts as a detoxifier to prevent seafood poisoning. Besides its popular applications for digestive distress, ginger has been found to contain geraniol, which may be a potent cancer fighter. It also possesses anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve pain, prevent blood clots and inhibit the onset of migraine headaches. Since ancient times, Chinese physicians have regularly consumed ginger tea to keep their vitality fired up.
Evergreen for vitality
In ancient times, Taoists living in the mountains of China observed that during snowy winters, the only plants exhibiting vitality were evergreens such as pines. Through experimentation, they found a therapeutic use for every part of the pine tree: a physical and mental energy boost from pine needle tea and bark tea, antimicrobial properties in the trees' sap, and sustenance from pine nuts as a food. Since then, the pine has become a symbol of longevity in Chinese culture. A potent antioxidant in pine called pycnogenol protects endothelial cells (which make up the lining of the blood vessels and heart) from free radical damage, serves as an anti-inflammatory and preserves healthy skin structure. It is one of only a few antioxidants that cross the blood-brain barrier, protecting brain cells from the ravages of free radicals in the blood. Pycnogenol is available in dietary supplement form, but the same beneficial flavonoids can be obtained by eating pine nuts.
Garlic for stamina
The delicious ingredient that spices up Italian food does a lot more than whet your appetite. Studies indicate that allicin, the active ingredient in garlic, can prevent atherosclerosis and coronary blockage, lower cholesterol, reduce blood clot formation, stimulate the pituitary, regulate blood sugar and prevent cancer. As an antibacterial, it is often used to treat minor infections. To balance out its pungency, eat some breath-freshening parsley.
These are just a few of the hundreds of tips and tricks for living longer and healthier in my book, "Secrets of Longevity."
May you live long, live strong, and live happy in the new year!
Story by Mao Shing Ni. Dr. Mao is a board-certified anti-aging expert who practices acupuncture, nutrition and Chinese medicine in Santa Monica and Newport Beach, Calif. He has appeared regularly on "Dr. Oz," "The Doctors" and "EXTRA." In addition, he is the co-founder and chancellor of Yo San University in Venice/Marina del Rey. This article is reprinted with permission. For more, visit mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com.