4 Herbs and Spices That Are Great for Your Health

Humans have long been using herbs and spices — not just to flavor their food, but also to support their health. Even some modern medications are derived from herbs and spices. Here are four herbs and spices that have been used for their health benefits for millennia.

Rosemary

Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean. It is a slow-growing perennial plant that can grow into a 6-foot-tall shrub. Rosemary is an evergreen with glossy needle-like leaves, a delicious, resinous smell and a warm, somewhat bitter taste. Wellness Mama explains, “medicinally rosemary is used as an antioxidant and to support the circulatory system. It’s what is called a nervine, which means it helps the nervous system and eases nerve and muscle pain. When a few sprigs of this herb are tucked into a pillow, rosemary brings restful sleep.

Turmeric

Turmeric, or Indian saffron, is a spice that’s native to southern Asia. The part that is used is the rhizome, which is a bright yellow-orange color. When the rhizomes are mature, they’re cured, polished and powdered. Turmeric is an essential ingredient in many curries, and its health benefits include stimulating the liver to cleanse and alkalize the blood. Another use is shrinking uterine and skin tumors. Age Immune explains, “curcumin (a substance found in turmeric) has a long history of use for supporting liver, colon and musculoskeletal health. You can often also use this spice as a supplemental extract.”

Echinacea

Also called cornflower, people use two species of this daisy-like flower for health. Echinacea angustifolia stimulates the immune system and helps to purify the blood. It has antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties, yet it is gentle enough for use by children. Echinacea purpurea also purifies the blood and combats both viruses and bacteria. It also helps to heal wounds and sores. All parts of both plants are used therapeutically.

Milk Thistle

Dr. Jockers explains, “the seeds of milk thistles are famous for their ability to detoxify the liver and gallbladder. Milk thistle is full of antioxidants that prevent free-radical oxygen molecules from damaging the cells of the body, particularly those of the liver.” It is also a phytoestrogen, which means that it behaves much like estrogen in the body. The young leaves of milk thistle are also used in salads.

These herbs and spices can be taken in capsule form as a supplement, as extracts, teas or tinctures that you can make at home. The good news with herbs such as rosemary, echinacea, and milk thistle is that they are easy to grow in a garden or even in a pot near a sunny window. Turmeric is easy to find in any supermarket.