Organic herbs and spices are a perfect accompaniment for your green Thanksgiving or Christmas feast this year, but herbs and spices add much more than flavor to your meals – they also may result in a healthier family. The holidays are hectic, and colds and other illnesses may attack when you’re stressed and your defenses are down. However, you can use sprinklings of herbs and spices to fight off many common problems.
Holiday Herbs & Spices That Keep You Healthy
Sage: This herb is commonly used for stuffing, gravy, bread, soups and other holiday fare. Sage can also combat an upset stomach, help reduce depression and even inhibits the development of various bacteria. Research shows that sage may even help boost insulin action for people with diabetes.
Nutmeg: This common holiday spice can ease tummy aches and help you sleep better at night (sprinkle some in tea or warm organic milk). Nutmeg can be used in baked goods, sprinkled on cereal, used in drinks and much more, plus has so many anti-inflammatory properties that you can even use it directly on pimples (mix it into a paste with a little water or milk) or in a face or body scrub for shiny clean skin.
Oregano: This is a more around-the-year herb, but don’t forget it during cold season. Research shows that oregano offers 20 times more antioxidant power than any other herb and is an anti-inflammatory that can help fight off cough, food-borne pathogens and even cancer. Use this tasty herb to season your stuffing, pot pies, meats, sauces, veggies and potato dishes.
Cinnamon: One of the best holiday spices is also an excellent health spice. You can bake away with cinnamon in pies, cakes and cookies or add a dash to fruit salad, applesauce, sweet potatoes, spiced cider and more. The more you sprinkle the better, as cinnamon has been shown to help fight heart disease and diabetes. This powerful spice also is great for relieving nausea, can support digestion and more.
Rosemary: Use rosemary in potato dishes, on veggies, in bread and more to help fight off free radicals. Rosemary also relaxes your stomach, and has even been shown to aid memory issues in Alzheimer’s disease.
Ginger: This spice makes long holiday road trips more bearable, as mixing it in a food or drink can help fight both motion sickness and nausea. Research shows that ginger also may relieve pain and swelling associated with arthritis. Furthermore, ginger can help treat upper respiratory tract infections, cough, and bronchitis. Bake ginger into a pie or cookies, use it in stir fry or on pasta or fruit or drink it in your tea.
Always Go Organic & Fresh When Possible
It’s so silly to try and use conventional herbs and spices for health. Why aim for health as you ingest pesticides and chemicals? Beyond the fact that conventional foods contain poison, organic farming helps to keep pesticides and other nasty chemicals out of the land, air and water supply. If you want to go one ethical step further, aim for organic and Fair Trade herbs and spices.
As for freshness, it’s a fairly standard belief among alternative health professionals that you’ll gain more health benefits from freshly chopped herbs vs. dried. Processing likely removes some of the healing qualities of herbs – so buy fresh if you can. Or why not grow some organic herbs on your kitchen windowsill. Even in the winter, herbs will grow nicely indoors.
Where to Find Organic and Fair Trade Herbs and Spices
- The bulk section at your local natural grocer – look for organic not “natural” herbs and spices.
- Starwest Botanicals
- Earth Mama Angel Baby – no bulk herbs, but herbs in tea offered.
- Simply Organic
- Mountain Rose Herbs
- Oregon’s Wild Harvest
- TSP Spices – don’t love the packaging, but this company is certified organic.
- Living Earth Herbs
- Grow organic herbs indoors right in your own kitchen!
*SAFETY NOTE: Before using a herb as a medicinal treatment read my Flower & Herb Safety Guide. If you’re considering using these herbs and spices in essential oil form, read my Essential Oil Safety Guide.
- Visit the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine to learn more.