Spices Pack Health

Dr. Kathy Gruver is the host of the national TV series based on her first book, The Alternative Medicine Cabinet. 

She has also authored the book, Body/Mind Therapies for the Bodyworker and is a practitioner, educator and speaker with over 2 decades of experience. 

She has appeared as an expert on 100 radio shows, television and in print. Her website for more information is www.thealternativemedicinecabinet.com

Herbs, spices and plants have been used throughout history for their healing properties. In fact, many prescriptions have their origins in plants. Here are just a few things you might already have in your kitchen that can lead to better health.

Garlic is one of the oldest healing plants on the planet. It is cholesterol lowering, anti-thrombotic, anti-blood coagulant, an antioxidant, lowers blood pressure, is anti-microbial, anti-viral, anti-bacterial and tasty. Garlic needs to be damaged for its full effect to be used, so crush it, chop it and enjoy. Beware if you are on any heart medications, as you don’t want to lower your blood pressure too much!

Ginger is great for the respiratory system to help fight colds and flu. It’s also calming to the stomach for morning sickness or motion sickness. Ginger contains vitamins A, C and B complex.

Cumin Seeds commonly found in Indian food is good for digestive health like flatulence and is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Often we forget that herbs and spices have nutritional value too.

Coriander Seeds are a great source of fiber which helps increase the bulk of the stool for better bowel health and is a good source of copper, iron, calcium and other minerals. And you wouldn’t guess it, but Coriander contains a good amount of vitamin C.

Cinnamon may be a great additive for reducing blood sugar in type-2 diabetes. But much to my dad’s dismay, this doesn’t mean consuming more Cinnabon™. Cinnamon can be taken in capsule form and may also reduce inflammation in the body. Cinnamon oil can be hot and irritating, so use caution.

Cloves contain one of the most powerful germicidal agents around. It’s safe for nausea and vomiting when pregnant and is useful for toothaches and teething babies. (Use clove oil) Cloves are also great for gas and bad breath.

Black Peppercorn, which most of us cook with daily has a great list of health properties. It not only helps with digestion, but has properties that help the body absorb other nutrients. It’s a good source of antioxidants, which help remove free radicals from the body.

Cayenne, a step up from black pepper, is another good source of vitamin C and also A. It’s high in essential minerals and the B vitamins.

Horseradish is a strong stimulant and has been known to clear up infections and sinus issues. It also has a strong antibiotic property. Horseradish is very hot, so use care when consuming. Talk to me sometime about my experience when I took 4 capsules of powered horseradish having no idea what it was.

Turmeric has been used throughout history for its anti-inflammatory action and stomach soothing properties. It contains vitamin C and minerals such as manganese, potassium and copper. Turmeric may also offer protection from high blood pressure and stroke.

Saffron is a beautiful orange/yellow spice commonly found in Indian and Middle Eastern food. Saffron has many health properties including soothing the stomach, reducing cholesterol, and preventing heart disease. It may also help depression and cancer.

Fenugreek is an underutilized spice but provides a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. It has been used as a laxative, a digestive and a remedy for bronchitis. It also may help with high cholesterol and high blood sugar.

Nutmeg, a common holiday spice, is a traditional herbal medicine. Its oil has been used for toothache relief like cloves and can also be used for massage on sore muscles and rheumatic joints.

Mustard Seed can be used externally as a poultice for sciatica, muscle and joint pain and can help with respiratory infections. Internally, it’s a stimulant for the gastric juices and contains high amounts of B vitamins and minerals.

I hope this encourages you turn more to your kitchen as your pharmacy and utilize those gifts that Mother Nature has provided. Remember that herbs and spices are chemicals too. Just because they are natural doesn’t mean they can be taken without education. Don’t start an herbal therapy without consulting a professional.

Dr. Kathy Gruver, PhD, is the author of The Alternative Medicine Cabinet, which was recently turned into a TV series. Her second book, Body/Mind Therapies for the Bodyworker was just released and she maintains a massage and wellness practice in Santa Barbara, CA. Kathy has appeared as a guest expert in print, on the radio and on TV. She lectures around the country on health and stress. More information can be found at www.thealternativemedicinecabinet.com


I’m very pleased to introduce my friend Dr. Schweta Kasbekar as our expert on the health benefits of spices. On many an occasion I’ve been asked questions regarding spices and health. Mine is a culinary adventure. So, I’m happy to have Dr. Schweta speak about and answer any of your questions on spices and their health-giving properties.

Dr. Schweta Kasbekar is a native of the Chicagoland area and received her two undergraduate Bachelor degrees in both Biology and Spanish from Creighton University in Omaha, NE. She then attended the National University of Health Sciences in Lombard, IL where she achieved her Doctorate in Chiropractic Medicine and the University of Chicago, IL where she completed her MBA.

Dr. Kasbekar has had a lifelong interest in fitness and health, as well as great experience addressing musculoskeletal conditions, chronic disease, and inflammatory disorders. Her background in clinical nutrition and current candidacy for her Diplomate for the American Board of Chiropractic Internists allows her to use extensive laboratory testing and evaluation.

The doctor, through her hundreds of hours of post-graduate study in nutrition, natural therapies, and acupuncture has successfully treated patients suffering from many conditions, including but not limited to: chronic disease, auto-immune diseases, fibromyalgia, weight management, fatigue, food allergies, and support for cancer therapies.

Dr. Kasbekar pursues a patient-centered, integrative medical approach to wellness. She believes that the combination of medical science and natural therapies is the key to responsible, safe, and effective health care.

On behalf of Dr. Schweta, I'm pleased to publish what will hopefully be the first of many articles for us—“Health and the Role of Turmeric.”


One amazing benefit of herbs and spices is that they’re very low in calories while being dense in vitamins and minerals. It is with this nutrient-dense status that they enrich your overall well-being with antioxidants more potently than many fruits and veggies. Herbs and spices promote health and repair throughout your entire body, not in just one particular area. This “whole person” or “whole system” approach is why I believe these spices and herbs can benefit you so tremendously. I consider one particular spice the ultimate super-food, because its benefits are amazing and endless. That spice is Turmeric.

Picking the one best thing that Turmeric does for the body was difficult. It has anticancer activity, it helps support liver health, and it’s a powerful antioxidant. The one property of Turmeric that really stands out though, and likely helps support its other healthful activities, is its enormous power as an anti-inflammatory. Inflammation, if left untreated, is now known to be a component of a baker’s dozen of chronic health diseases. And unlike aspirin or tylenol, turmeric’s active ingredient curcumin reduces inflammation naturally, without damaging the liver or kidneys. Healthier Talk reports:

“It has been found especially helpful in treating conditions like arthritis, sports injuries, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, tendonitis and various autoimmune diseases. Some research even suggests that curcumin may also help those suffering asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and, yes, even cancer.”

Turmeric’s curcumin has been shown to inhibit the production of cyclooxygenase (COX 2) and 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX); 2 potent enzymes involved in the implication of inflammation. Furthermore, in a study published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism, researchers found that turmeric extracts prevented the activation of a protein called NF-kappa B, which controls the expression of genes that produce an inflammatory response.

The majority of the studies are done on curcumin since it’s easy to isolate chemically and therefore study scientifically. But there’s every reason to believe there are dozens of other healthy compounds in turmeric spice itself that can benefit you in addition to the curcumin. The Spicy Gourmet’s Turmeric is easy to use and tastes great on everything. I use it on everything I cook (well, almost). Try it on eggs!

“May you live Long, live Strong, and live Healthy”
~ Dr. Schweta Kasbekar, DC, MBA


Credit Cards Accepted
USDA Organic Trust Small Farms