The Healing Power of Spices

My mom always says, “If the drug works, take it!” If you do not know how straight-laced my mother is, you might take this quote the wrong way. As a young woman who spent my teen years in her home, I can assure you she was not encouraging recreational drug use.  Rather, she was a strong advocate of taking an over-the-counter pain killer for a headache or an antacid for a stomach ache. Unlike my mother, there are a lot of people out there trying to avoid medication these days for a wide array of reasons. Maybe you are pregnant, maybe you have an allergy, or maybe you are simply trying to keep your liver and kidney healthy.

If you prefer to avoid pharmaceutical medications and take a more holistic approach, you know how difficult that can be when you aren’t feeling well. When you are under the weather, there are natural things you can take – or rather cook – to reduce your physical pain. All you have to do is get spicy in your kitchen!

Here is a list of physical symptoms that can be reduced through the healing power of spices:

The Common Cold

I think it is safe to say that cold season is coming to a close but we aren’t out of the dark yet! If you feel a cold coming on, try adding a little chili powder to a bowl of chicken noodle soup (or any flavor of broth-based soup). Soups made with broth instead of milk or cream will aid in your body’s hydration. The chili powder adds a little kick in flavor, is rich in antioxidants, and will help to combat that cold before it even starts. If you are already deep into your cold, still try the chili powder-chicken soup method as the thermogenic properties of chilies warms your body to fight against germs. You can also try cinnamon to reduce congestion and garlic to reduce the severity and duration of your cold symptoms.


Drinking can be fun, but hangovers not so much. If you wake up regretting that last glass of wine, try cooking with turmeric. Turmeric can be used to help calm an upset stomach after a night of celebration. Even more, it promotes liver health to help make up for any damage you may have done the night before. Gurpareet Bains, the author of Indian Superspices, recommends nigella seeds, fennel, cardamom and ginger as additional spice options to prevent that pesky hangover from disrupting all last night’s funny memories.


Migraines are often completely debilitating and not as responsive to medication as the sufferer needs. I have had enough migraines to stop hoping any one method will cure them, but I am still willing to try for some relief. Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties help alleviate your migraine and, remarkably, also combats the common co-occurring symptom of nausea. Mint also helps calm nausea while cayenne pepper works on the headache itself since it is believed that cayenne interferes with the neuronal pathways that are involved in pain.

Fighting Infection

Both cardamom and cloves help fight bacterial infections. Cardamom helps bad breath, chest congestion, bronchitis, and sore throat. Cloves can be rubbed on a cut to help the infection building in your skin. So if your kid falls off his bike – or you fall off yours –try this natural remedy and see what happens.

Look no further than your spice rack as your new and improved medicine cabinet. At your next family dinner, your spices might deserve a toast.  Not only are they adding flavor to your food but they are helping to keep you and your loved ones healthy!