Spice Up Your Holidays


By Lydia Kraus

Listed below are a four popular flavors and scents that are so warmly welcomed during the Christmas season. Read on to learn more about these spices and how to incorporate them into your holidays!

Peppermint

Originally from Europe, the peppermint plant is now grown worldwide. Common forms of use include leaves, capsules, and oils. Peppermint can be beneficial to one’s health through ingestion, external use, and by breathing in its aroma. Easing issues in the digestive tract (nausea, vomiting, irritable bowel syndrome), relieving headaches, calming skin irritations, treating colds, aiding oral care, and promoting healing of wounds, are some of the main health benefits of peppermint. If using peppermint in its oil form, it should always be diluted. Other common ways to use this herb include drinking it in tea, adding the extract to food, and consuming capsules. Young children should not use peppermint, as it can induce serious breathing problems.

Cinnamon

Originally from tropical Asia, cinnamon comes from a type of evergreen shrub. The shoots of the tree are harvested and used as cinnamon sticks while the bark on the lower portion of the tree is ground down into the spice commonly known as cinnamon. The benefits of this spice are numerous. Some benefits include pain relief (muscle and joint pain, as well as more chronic pain such as arthritis), blood, heart, and colon health, digestion, respiration, healthy lactation, and ease of menstrual discomfort. Cinnamon oil is often used in aroma therapy or in cooking, but one should be very careful if using it in external application.

Ginger

Commonly known as “ginger root”, this plant has been around for centuries. The “root” you may have seen at supermarkets is actually the stem of its red-flowering plant. Ginger is sweet flavor and is typically used in Asian cuisine as well as teas, sodas, and alcoholic beverages. The oil produced in this plant is also used in many fragrances. Bone health, immune health, digestion, prevention and treatment for inflammation, gastrointestinal support (fights carcinogens in the colon and removes excess gas), detoxification (through increased sweating), and treatment of nausea, flu, and menstrual cramps, are some of the main health benefits of ginger.

Nutmeg

This spice comes from the seed of a particular evergreen tree native to the Caribbean and Southern India. In addition to the standard powdered form of this spice, nutmeg extract is also used as an essential oil in herbal medicines. Slightly sweet in flavor, nutmeg is best used in small doses, as in seasoning food or drinks. Health benefits include pain relief, digestion, brain health, detoxification, oral health, better sleep, blood pressure regulation, and it even has cancer fighting agents.

Allergies to these herbs and spices are possible. It is always safe to check with a doctor (especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition or if you’re on medications) before incorporating them into your routine.

 

References:

“9 Surprising Benefits of Nutmeg.” Organic Facts, 20 Nov. 2017, www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/nutmeg.html.

“18 Amazing Benefits Of Cinnamon & Its Oil.” Organic Facts, 2 Nov. 2017, www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/essential-oils/health-benefits-of-cinnamon-oil.html.

Nordqvist, Christian. “Peppermint: Health Benefits and Precautions.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 27 June 2017, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265214.php.

“Top 10 Benefits of Ginger.” Organic Facts, 28 Nov. 2017, www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/ginger.html