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Powerful Therapeutic Spices in Medicine

Course Number: 549A


Long before modern medicine, spices were valued for their ability to help individuals fight infection and aid in health promotion. Various civilizations relied on herbs and spices for both food and medicine.6 For example, in India, Ayurveic medicine (some 3,000 years ago), utilized spices such as clove and cardamom. These spices were wrapped in betel nut leaves and chewed after a meal to increase salivary flow to aid in digestion. Spices also have a long history of use in Asia, Northeast Africa, and Europe as a form of currency during the spice trade. Spices such as cinnamon, cassia, cardamom, ginger, pepper, and turmeric were known and used for commerce in the Eastern World.1

Photography showing various types of spices
ce549 - Content - Introduction - Figure 1

Today, people are increasingly interested in spice, not only to enhance the flavor of cuisine, but for the collective evidence in complementary and alternative medicine. Research is progressing and mounting evidence supports the therapeutic benefits of spices.

In preventive medicine, a diet rich in spices, fruits and vegetables is associated with a reduction of at least 20% of all cancers.6 According to the World Health Organization, “approximately 15% of oropharyngeal cancers can be attributed to dietary deficiencies."6  In fact, recent studies indicate a strong connection between a low-intake of antioxidant fibers and oral squamous cell carcinoma.6  Oral health is responsible for both the social and physical well‑being of individuals.6  Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are natural occurring functional compounds found in spices that have amazing therapeutic properties.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ~ Hippocrates 6