The spices we use in our daily cooking are incredibly rich in quality. They enhance the flavors of various dishes and are also known to have effective medicinal qualities. Today, you will understand what everybody ought to know about medicinal uses of general spices.
What are Spices?
Spice can be a fruit, seed, bark, root, or other plant part used to augment the flavors and colors of the food. You must have used or heard of spices like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom used in both savory and sweet dishes. They are different from herbs because herbs are the leaves, stems, and flowers of the plant, like coriander, mint, and other green herbs used for garnishing.
The major spices used globally are black pepper, small cardamom, turmeric, chili, and ginger. Other spices include seed spices like cumin, black cumin, aniseed, celery, coriander, fennel, caraway, mustard, and poppy. Besides, some of the aromatic spices are cinnamon, clover, nutmeg, aniseed, and allspice used in recipes across the world.
Classification of Spices According to Plant Parts
Spices are classified according to the plant parts they are derived from like:
- Bark like Cinnamon and Cassia.
- Rhizomes like Turmeric, Ginger, Ginseng, and Galangal.
- Pods like Vanilla pods, Tamarind, and Cardamom.
- Kernel would be Nutmeg.
- Floral parts used as spices are Saffron, Caper, Savory, and Marjoram.
- Bud is Clover and a Caper.
- The latex spice is Asafoetida.
- Aril is Mace and Anardana.
- The berry spice is Black Pepper, Juniper, and Allspice.
Most of these spices appear in our list of what everybody ought to know about medicinal uses of these general spices.
1. Bishop’s Weeds
Bishop’s weed (Ajowain), botanically known as Ammi majus, is a common garden plant used in herbal medicines. It is also known as the Lace flower, bishop’s flower, and lady’s face. Various health benefits are the reason for its entry into our list of medicinal uses of these general spices.
- It has compound flavonoids that have anti-microbial properties.
- It can help relieve chest pain, asthma, digestive problems.
- It reduces the risk of kidney stones and maintains fluid retention.
- It is rich in a compound named methoxsalen that is used in the treatment of skin problems like psoriasis, vitiligo, and tinea versicolor. (Read Famous People With Vitiligo)
Allspice is the dried brown berry of the tropical plant Pimenta dioica tree. It is also known as Jamaica pepper, myrtle pepper, pimento, kurundu, allspice berries, or new spice. Besides, it is relative to cloves and is native to Central America and the West Indies. As it features on this medicinal uses of these general spices list, following are the medicinal benefits of Allspice:
- Allspice is rich in magnesium and thus is beneficial for healthy bones and teeth.
- It is rich in anti-inflammatory qualities and may relieve pain in body parts.
- The iron content present in allspice serves as the oxygen carrier, which makes a person energetic and alert.
- It has a calming effect and provides comfort for digestive problems. It eases cramps and helps with healthy digestion.
- Calcium-rich allspice may protect against the risks related to colon and rectal cancers.
- It enhances immunity and slows down the aging process.
- Improves blood circulation, leading to good heart health.
- Allspice reduces the risk of type-2 diabetes by regulating blood sugar levels.
- It is also beneficial in offering better dental health.
- This spice tastes like a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. (Also read 20 Amazing Health Benefits of Bananas)
3. Star Anise
This star-shaped spice is derived from a Chinese evergreen tree, Illicium verum. It has a sweet flavor that is similar to that of licorice. It is mainly used in soups and braising broths. Apart from having a distinct flavor, it also has various health benefits. Also, being rich in compounds like flavonoids and polyphenolic provides medicinal benefits.
- Star Anise also has antiviral properties that are mostly used in treating influenza
- . It is rich in antifungal properties, which is beneficial in treating fungal infections.
- Star Anise is used for the treatment of several types of fungal, bacterial, and viral infections. (See 20 Revolutionary Diet Plans to Lose Weight)
4. Bay leaf
It is an aromatic leaf that is used in cooking. This spice can be used as a whole while cooking and then removed while serving and eating. It can also be used in the ground and dried form. It is from the herb category, also known as sweet bay, because of its mild-sweet flavor and aroma. These leaves are used for the following medicinal benefits:
- Bay leaf can lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of diabetes.
- It improves digestion by preventing gastric damage and enhances urine flow, which helps in the effective release of toxins from the body.
- Essential oil extracts are proven to help alleviate various respiratory conditions.
- They are rich in antifungal properties that helps in fighting fungal infection.
- Bay leaves have natural calming and soothing effects, providing relief from stress and anxiety while being one of the others ought to know common spices with medicinal uses.
- It has sesquiterpene lactones which help in fighting inflammation.
- Bay leaves are rich in caffeic acid and rutin, which help maintain heart health and regulate cholesterol levels.
- It indeed benefits in improving hair health.
- The various compounds like phytonutrients, catechins, linalool, and parthenolide help prevent the effects of cancer-causing free radicals. (Read What are the health benefits of drinking Green Tea)
It is a biennial plant from the family of Apiaceae that is native to Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa. It has various culinary and medicinal uses. It is also commonly called Persian cumin. It appears on our list of what everybody ought to know about medicinal uses of these general spices because:
- When combined with herbs like peppermint oil, it can reduce heartburn.
- It can help in relieving gas, bloating, constipation, and intestinal spasms.
- It can be used for starting menstruation and increasing milk flow for lactating mothers.
- It can be used as skin rubs to increase blood flow.
- It improves poor appetite and helps in maintaining a healthy weight.
- It is impactful in reducing menstrual cramps and can kill bacteria in the body, and
- It also helps improve urination control. (See 14 Disastrous Health Effects of Smoking)
It is a spice extracted from the seeds of plants in the genera of Elettaria and Amomum of the family Zingiberaceae. Both the plants are native to Indonesia and the Indian subcontinent. Cardamom is used in both savory dishes and sweet dishes because of its mild flavor and aroma. And it makes this spice one of them ought to know common spices with medicinal uses. Cardamom helps provide the following health benefits:
- It is useful for people with high blood pressure issues because the antioxidants and diuretic properties of cardamom help in lowering blood pressure.
- It has anti-inflammatory properties that are helpful in the prevention of various chronic diseases by protecting against cell damage.
- Cardamom helps with digestive issues and may be beneficial for your weight-loss trip.
- It also helps in maintaining oral hygiene by killing common mouth bacteria and preventing cavities. Therefore, it is also used in chewing gums.
- Essential oils extracts from Cardamom are helpful in the treatment of various fungal infections, stomach issues, and food poisoning.
- Stimulates better oxygen and relaxes the air passage, making it easier to breathe.
- It also lowers blood sugar levels and helps in maintaining them.
- It protects the liver by decreasing the levels of triglycerides and cholesterol.
- Cardamom is a mood booster and reduces anxiety. (Also read Is Nougat Healthy?)
7. Cumin Seeds
Cumin Seeds are obtained from the Cuminum cyminum plant. This plant belongs to the parsley family, native to the Irano-Turanian region. Besides, Cumin Seeds have a slightly sweet and nutty warm flavor with antibacterial properties. As it is present on our 23 ought to know common spices with medicinal uses list, read the following medicinal uses for it to be there:
- The presence of antioxidant compounds apigenin and luteolin helps reduce the damage caused to cells by free radicals.
- Extracts of cumin seeds help treat diarrhea.
It helps in controlling and managing blood sugar levels. (See How much blood is in your body?)
- The oil extracts of cumin seeds are used as a larvicide and antiseptic. It attacks and kills harmful bacteria attacking your immune system.
- Anti-inflammatory properties help in reducing the risk of other chronic diseases. It also helps in reducing the pain caused by inflammation.
- Cumin has hyperlipidemia properties that help control the fat levels in your body.
- Consuming cumin along with a healthy diet may help you to reduce weight.
- Cumin extracts are useful in treating various conditions like digestive spasms, cramps, bloating, and nausea related to irritable bowel disorder (IBS).
- It helps in the effective functioning of the nervous system, which in turn boosts your memory.
According to researchers, it may help in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease because it improves the coordination of the functioning of the central nervous system.
Cinnamon is a spice derived from the bark of the trees of the genus Cinnamomum, popularly known as the Cinnamon Tree. It has a strong sweet flavor which in excess feels like vanilla essence. This spice from the ought to know common spices with medicinal uses list is used in both savory and sweet dishes. There are two types of cinnamon: Ceylon Cinnamon, also known as true cinnamon, and Cassia Cinnamon which is more commonly used in culinary recipes. Below are the medicinal benefits that you can obtain from Cinnamon.
- Cinnamon is rich in the antioxidant compound polyphenol.
- The anti-inflammatory properties help relieve pain and reduce the risks of developing many chronic diseases.
- Controls factors like cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure, are responsible for degrading heart health. Therefore, it provides you with a healthy heart.
- It helps you to develop strong sensitivity towards the hormone insulin, which can lead to a controlled blood sugar level. If you consume about 0.5 to 2 teaspoons (1-6 grams) of cinnamon per day, then your blood sugar levels will also be reduced.
- It may help protect against the growth of cancerous cells and cause improvements among patients suffering from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
- It has a compound named Cinnamaldehyde, which is rich in antifungal and antibacterial properties. This compound improves dental health, reduces infection, and fights bad breath. (See How to Breathe through Both Nostrils?)
Cloves are aromatic flower buds from the family Myrtaceae, Syzygium aromaticum, and a native to Maluku Island in Malaysia. It is commonly used as a spice while also used in sweet dishes because of its subtle sweet taste and warm flavor. Cloves are a rich source of Manganese. It is a powerful spice and has various medicinal benefits to be in this list of 23 ought to know common spices with medicinal uses.
- Cloves are rich in antioxidants like eugenol. It helps to reduce oxidative stress and protects your body against cell damage.
- The compounds of cloves reduce the growth of cancer cells and kill these cells.
- The best solution for having good oral health is using Cloves due to their anti-microbial properties, which kill harmful bacteria.
- The compounds in cloves have proven to help reduce oxidative stress and thus protect the liver.
- Compounds in cloves help in regulating blood sugar levels by increasing insulin secretion.
- Manganese present in the clove extract may help in increasing bone health and result in improved bone mineral density.
- It prevents the stomach from ulcers by increasing the production of gastritis mucus. (Read How Acidic is Stomach Acid?)
10. Fennel Seeds
Fennel belongs to the carrot family and, botanically, it is known as Foeniculum vulgare. Fennel seeds have a more potent flavor as they are rich in essential oils. Fennel and fennel seeds are different because fennel is the crunchy bulb of the plant, and fennel seeds are the seeds that are dried and used. Both the bulbs and seeds have a mild flavor similar to licorice. Fennel Seeds from this list of 23 ought to know common spices with medicinal uses have the following medicinal attributes:
- It is low in calories but highly nutritious. Some essential nutrients like Vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and calcium are present.
Fennel Seeds are rich in plant compounds, including powerful antioxidants like chlorogenic, limonene, and quercetin. (Also read Top 20 Foods that contain Antioxidants)
- It is rich in potassium, fiber, calcium, and magnesium, which help maintain good heart health.
- It may help increase milk secretion in lactating women, which can be helpful for further weight gain in those infants.
- It may have antibacterial properties and reduce inflammation.
- Fennel Seeds help in reducing brain issues related to aging.
It is also helpful in relieving conditions arising after menopause.
Fenugreek seed is a herb similar to clove in appearance. It is native to the Mediterranean region, Western Asia, and Southern Europe. It is used as a spice blend that gives flavor to food, beverages, and tobacco products. The flavor and aroma of the fenugreek seeds are the same as that of maple syrup. This spice has been used in Chinese medicines for treating skin-related conditions and other diseases. Fenugreek is rich in minerals, iron, magnesium, and fiber, making it an easy choice for our ought to know common spices with medicinal uses list.
- It helps relieve digestive problems like constipation, loss of appetite, and gastritis.
- Fenugreek Seeds may help alleviate pain caused during menstruation, arthritis, migraines, and headaches.
- Fenugreek seeds are beneficial in regulating high blood pressure, breathing difficulties, muscle pain, and obesity.
- It reduces inflammation and helps in maintaining healthy heart health.
- It is helpful for lactating women as it helps in more milk production.
- It has proven to be beneficial for weight loss. (See 9 Diseases Caused by Obesity)
Garlic is a bulbous flowering plant from the genus Allium. It has been used as a flavoring ingredient and as medicine for a long time since ancient history. Both cooked and raw garlic have several health benefits. It appears on our list of what everybody ought to know about medicinal uses of these general spices because:
- Garlic has antibiotic properties, including a powerful antibiotic, Diallyl sulfide. It helps in controlling intestinal infection caused by Campylobacter bacterium.
- A component found in garlic oil is Diallyl trisulfide which helps to protect the heart after a heart attack and during cardiac surgery.
Beneficial in regulating high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. (Read What does it mean when your blood is dark red?)
- It may reduce the impact on the liver caused due to excessive alcohol consumption.
- It has anti-microbial properties that help reduce the risk of preterm (premature) delivery.
- Very impactful for the common cold and flu.
- Garlic intake may help in reducing the risk of prostate cancer.
- Garlic consumption reduces the risk of hip osteoarthritis in women.
- Glioblastomas are a type of deadly brain tumor. Organo-sulfur compounds found in garlic are beneficial in destroying these cells.
- Consumption of raw garlic helps in reducing the risk of lung cancer.
Ginger is a flowering plant whose rhizomes, including the roots known as Ginger Roots, are used as spices. It can be freshly chopped and included in the food. Also, it can be dried and used in powdered form with oil or juice. It has a strong fragrance and flavor that strengthens its position in this ought to know common spices with medicinal uses list.
- Gingerol, the main bioactive compound of ginger, has powerful antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Gingerol is evident to have protective effects against cancerous cells.
- It is highly effective against nausea and morning sickness.
- It is also helpful in maintaining weight and other factors related to weight management.
- Helpful in relieving pain caused by osteoarthritis, especially knee pain.
- Highly impactful in lowering blood sugar levels, which can further help reduce heart-related problems.
- Helpful in improving digestion and stomach-related discomfort. It is also beneficial in the better functioning of the excretory system.
- It is consumed at the beginning of the menstrual period; ginger can help in reducing period cramps.
- It also reduces bad cholesterol, blood triglyceride, and total cholesterol levels in the body.
- Ginger may help in improving brain functioning in women in their middle age.
- It is also beneficial in protecting us from various viruses and infections. (Also read Are Nootropics Safe?)
This is one of the spices produced on the nutmeg tree along with nutmeg. Nutmeg is the seed, and the mace is the covering of that seed. The dried covering of the nutmeg is used as a spice because of its aromatic flavor. This spice from our ought to know common spices with medicinal uses list has several medicinal benefits. Mace helps provide relief from anxiety, arthritis, cavities, and other conditions. It may also help with diarrhea, cholera, intestinal gas, stomach problems, and kidney problems. Mace can also help reduce insomnia and nausea. Relieves pain when applied to the skin affected. (See 11 Health Benefits of Eating Ice Apple Fruit)
It is the seed of the Nutmeg Tree that is covered by the spice Mace. The Nutmeg evergreen tree is native to Indonesia and used as a spice because of its aroma and dense taste. In this ought to know common spices with medicinal uses list, it manages to grab the position on our list of what everybody ought to know about medicinal uses of these general spices because:
- It is also used in making nutmeg butter and other essential oils. Nutmeg is rich in many nutrients like copper, zinc, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, manganese, and vitamins (A, C, and E).
- It can be used as a potential anti-depressant.
- Nutmeg oil is used in various dental products which provide better teeth health and reduce pain.
- It supplies decent quality sleep for the proper duration.
- Nutmeg has a rich amount of fiber that helps in keeping the digestive system healthy. (Read 10 Rose Apple Benefits)
16. Black Mustard
This spice is botanically known as Brassica nigra. These are black or brown seeds native to temperate regions of Europe, parts of Asia, and tropical regions of North Africa. It is also known as kali sarso in the Indian subcontinent, and the taste is hard and pungent. These seeds are rich in vitamins and minerals and have the following health and medicinal benefits.
- They are rich in magnesium, which helps in soothing the nerves and muscles, giving you relief from headaches and migraines.
- These seeds also give relief from pain in other body parts.
- Mustard seeds are rich in fiber, which makes them a reliable source to improve your digestive health.
- It helps manage cholesterol levels and reduces bad cholesterol levels in the blood. Thus, improving your heart health.
- The mineral that gives strength to bones and teeth is present in mustard seeds. Therefore, your teeth and bone health are also improved.
- Rich in anti-inflammatory properties that reduce inflammation in your body.
- These seeds remove impurities from your blood, which is beneficial for maintaining your skin health too. Because of this, it also reduces acne.
- Being rich in Vitamin (A, C, and K) makes it beneficial in slowing down the aging process, which is another benefit of this spice present in our ought to know common spices with medicinal uses list. (See 34 Medicinal Plants worth Your Garden Space )
17. Black Pepper
Black Pepper, botanically known as Piper nigrum, is a flowering vine belonging to the family of Piperaceae. This plant bears the fruit known as peppercorns, used as a spice after drying. It is the world’s most traded spice and has several health benefits as it has settled on this position in this ought to know common spices with medicinal uses list.
- It is fabulously rich in an antioxidant called Piperine, which prevents the damage caused by free radicals to your body.
- In animals, it has shown anti-inflammatory effects and reduces inflammation.
- It may help in improving brain activities.
- Black pepper extracts improve blood sugar levels and control them.
- It may also reduce cholesterol levels in the body.
Black Pepper increases the absorption of nutrients in the body.
- It may be impactful in fighting cancer.
- It helps improve gut health by increasing the growth of good gut bacteria. (Read Why you should drink more Water?)
The flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the saffron crocus, produces saffron. The stigma and styles are vivid crimsons, and these threads are collected as spice saffron. This spice is mainly used for seasoning and coloring. It first originated in Greece and, not to forget, it is the costliest spice in the world, but it is also rich in medicinal properties. Sunshine Spice is the nickname of this spice.
- It is rich in antioxidants like crocin, safranal, kaempferol, and crocetin. Together, all these provide relief from oxidative stress.
- The sunshine spice helps brighten the mood and helps treat mild to moderate depression.
- The rich content of antioxidants helps in fighting and killing cancer cells.
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS,) including headaches, pain, anxiety, and cravings, can be treated. The dense smell is beneficial in relieving headaches.
- It may act as an anti-depressant.
- Since it controls cravings, it also helps in controlling weight and helps in losing weight.
- It reduces blood sugar levels. Thus the risks related to heart problems are also reduced.
- It may improve eyesight and memory in adults. (See How Virtual Reality (VR) affects the eyesight?)
This spice belongs to the flowering plant Curcuma longa. It is from the ginger family of Zingiberaceae, and its rhizomes are used in cooking. It has a strong flavor and is usually consumed in powdered form. It gives color, aroma, and a dense flavor to the dishes. Apart from being used as a spice in cooking, it also has several medicinal benefits. It is rich in the content of a compound called Curcumin.
- The compound curcumin is a powerful antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Turmeric helps reduce chronic inflammation, the root cause of various health issues.
- Curcumin boosts Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF), a type of brain hormone. It may help in the growth of new neurons, and it may also help in fighting against various degenerative brain processes.
- Turmeric helps maintain a healthy heart as it remains one of the essential spices in our ought to know common spices with medicinal uses list.
- Beneficial in improving cell health, which further reduces the risks of developing different types of cancers.
- It has a proven impact on Alzheimer’s disease by improving blood flow to the brain.
- Owning anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric helps in relieving the pain caused by arthritis along with suppressing other symptoms of arthritis.
- It is a good antidepressant.
It can also help reduce aging effects on the skin and slow down the aging process. (See How to slow down the greying of hair?)
This spice is an annual herb from the family of Apiaceae and is popularly known as cilantro, dhania, and Chinese parsley. Though all parts of this plant are edible, the leaves and seeds are mostly consumed. Leaves are used for garnishing and giving a tint of green to the food. Seeds are used as spices as a whole or in powder form.
- It is highly impactful in lowering blood sugar levels as it activates certain enzymes.
- A reliable source of anti-oxidants has proved to be helpful as an immune booster, has anti-inflammatory benefits, has neuroprotective effects, and can fight cancer cells.
- Good for lowering cholesterol levels, which further helps in maintaining a healthy heart. It reduces the levels of bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol levels in the body.
- It has anti-inflammatory properties and reduces brain inflammation and anxiety symptoms. It can also improve memory.
- Coriander seeds reduce digestive problems and its symptoms like bloating and discomfort. It can also boost the appetite.
- It has anti-microbial effects, which help fight against foodborne diseases and other pathogens like Salmonella.
- The anti-oxidants present in coriander are good for the skin because they protect the skin from sun damage and aging. Mild skin rashes can also be treated with it. (See How to strengthen your core muscles?)
21. Celery Seeds
This spice belongs to the marshland plant from the family of Apiaceae. It produces a long fibrous stack and seeds, both of which are used in cooking. Celery seeds are used as spices with a bitter and earthy taste. This spice is small and fabulously rich in nutrients like iron, calcium, and manganese. Being present on this ought to know common spices with medicinal uses list, Celery seeds contain following medicinal benefits:
It helps provide good bone health. (Also read How does it feel to break a bone?)
- Prevent a person from anemia as it is rich in Non-heme Iron. Iron handles produce red blood cells in the body.
- Magnesium is known to control blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes. Thus, celery seeds are helpful in this.
It has antibacterial properties and may help in fighting infections.
22. Dill Seeds
Dill is a herb from the celery family, and it is widely grown across Eurasia. The leaves are used as herbs, and seeds as spices for adding a light flavor to the food. Dill seeds are also known as soa seeds or sow seeds. Though it has a light flavor, it has medicinal benefits too. And it makes this spice appear in our list of ought to know common spices with medicinal uses.
- It helps in improving the digestive system, managing effective bowel movements, and improving the functioning of the excretory system.
- Dill seeds are rich in vitamin B and other enzymes, which act like a natural sedative that can help you improve your sleeping patterns and relieve insomnia.
- Calcium is present in Dill seeds in considerably good amounts that can help in improving your health. It also speeds up the healing process of bones in the case of fractures.
- Dill seeds are rich in compounds like monoterpenes and flavonoids, which are rich in antibacterial properties and thus help maintain your digestive health. They can be a good remedy for your upset stomach.
- It also helps improve the immune system and enhances the functioning of your digestive tract.
- A useful source of fighting against bad breath is because they are rich in carminative properties. (Read What are some foods that start with Letter D?)
Licorice is cultivated in the Mediterranean and USA, while it originated from southern Europe. Licorice packs a lot of punch against sicknesses and various diseases. It can be used to cure and prevent some of the diseases, and it is used in candies and tobacco as a flavoring agent. It manages to reserve a spot in this 23 ought to know common spices with medicinal uses list as it can be used as medicine against peptic ulcers, swelling, coughing, and other various disorders. It is also used in cough-relieving syrups, elixirs, and lozenges. (See How to treat a bad cough?)
Now, you are very aware of 23 ought to know common spices with medicinal uses. But make sure you are not using these spices in excess quantities because anything in excess is dangerous. Be safe and healthy! (Must Read 34 Brilliant Ways to Make Drinking Tea More Exciting)