8 Herbs and Spices That Serve As Medicine

Historically, alternative treatments—herbs, poultices, and other concoctions—were all we had to improve health and ward off disease. Once we gained better access to healthcare, our use of alternative treatments dropped. These days, however, studies show a steady increase in the use of alternative therapies among African Americans. And there are a number of herbs and spices that are being touted as ways to manage or treat diabetes.

Although there are a number of clinical studies in recent years showing potential health benefit of herbs and spices, and improved diabetes control, more definitive studies are needed. Medicinal herbs and spices such as chili peppers, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger, mustard seed, turmeric, garlic, oregano, and fenugreek, should not be used in place of conventional medical care. Some herbal remedies—particularly in concentrated doses may have side effects, including interacting with your diabetes treatment or increasing your risk of kidney problems.

The safest way to reap all the health benefits of herbs and spices is to use them in cooking—here’s how.

Chili peppers
Add a kick to store-bought or homemade hummus or guacamole by stirring in 1/4 teaspoon Ground Red Pepper or Crushed Red Pepper. Or, try sprinkling in a little Paprika.

Cinnamon
Perk up your morning coffee with Ground Cinnamon. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon over ground coffee before brewing. Cinnamon is a great way to add extra flavor and sweetness without adding sugar. Add a dash of cinnamon to oatmeal, yogurt, milk, toast, baked apples or pears; quinoa, couscous or barley salad.

Cloves
You can use ground clove wherever you use cinnamon or ginger. For example, stir ground clove into applesauce, stewed pears, or oatmeal. Clove is also a pleasant addition to muffins, cookies, whole grain pancakes, and sweet bread.

Ginger
Quench your thirst with Ginger Lemonade. Add 1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger to 1 quart freshly squeezed lemonade. Ginger can also be added to fruit smoothies, cereals, yogurt, and sweet potatoes. For an Asian flair add ground ginger to sautéed vegetables, salad dressings, and marinades.

Mustard seeds and powder
Mustard seed gives a sharp, zingy flavor to anything pickled—dill, sweet or bread and butter pickles, corn relish, green tomato relish, pickled green beans or cauliflower. Any spice blend, rub or marinade is a good home for mustard seed. Try grinding it with cumin seed, oregano, and garlic as a rub for roast beef.

Turmeric
For a great pick-me-up beverage in the morning try a modern-day version of golden milk made with coconut milk, honey, turmeric, and vanilla. Toss green salad with a turmeric vinaigrette made with apple cider vinegar, ginger, and shallots or dip vegetables in a creamy turmeric yogurt dip made with turmeric, sea salt, cinnamon and lemon juice mixed with yogurt.

Garlic
Garlic is a versatile ingredient that can be added—raw, roasted, grilled or sautéed—to any dish for an additional flavor boost. Roasted garlic brings a rich, deeper flavor to