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Five Health-Enhancing Herbs

by Chrysanthi Kazantzis

Flavoring meals with herbs and spices not only enhances the flavor of the food, but supercharges it for healing and nourishing the body without adding any calories. Here are five health-enhancing herbs to use in daily cooking.

Basil

This is an effective anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory herb that kills harmful bacteria caused from food poisoning including listeria, staph and E. coli. It is a high source of calcium, magnesium and vitamin K which is important for bone support. It is also helpful for arthritis and inflammatory bowel conditions.

Cloves

Cloves are a potent antiseptic herb that can fight infections, decrease arthritic pain and decrease digestive complaints. It is well-known for tooth and gum pain. Two to three cloves can be chewed to help relieve dental pain. It is effective in killing bacteria, and using clove oil topically can decrease infections in scrapes, cuts, rashes, bug bites and burns. It is also helpful for digestive complaints such as indigestion, gas and vomiting.

Thyme

This is effective for infections associated with sore throats, laryngitis, bronchitis and asthma. It is also helpful in reducing colic and gastritis, as well as in improving memory and decreasing free radicals.

Oregano

This is the most potent anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial herb. Oil of oregano has been used to treat various bacterial and viral infections as well as fungal and parasitic infections. When the herb is consumed daily it can provide the same benefits as the potent oil. It also decreases inflammation by decreasing aches, pains and allergies.

Rosemary

Rosemary is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It has been used for thousands of years to increase memory, concentration and uplift moods. It is also stimulating to the immune system and digestion. Smelling the essential oil while studying for an exam or preparing for a meeting can enhance memory. It is also helpful for respiratory problems and chest congestion. It is very protective against carcinogenic toxins and prevents against various cancers. When grilling meats and vegetables, marinate foods with rosemary to reduce heterocyclic amines (HCA’s) which are carcinogenic compounds that can form when meats are grilled.

Dr. Chrysanthi Kazantzis (Dr. Kaz) is a naturopathic doctor and also holds her master’s in nutrition. She is the vice-president of the Rhode Island Association of Naturopathic Physicians and practices at Avena Integrative Medical Center, in Putnam, CT.