Health Benefits of Spices and Other Curry Ingredients

The following compilation has been gleaned from various internet sources and I am not endorsing or disputing the following claims. I certainly do not encourage their usage in the treatment of any specific medical condition.
But, as ingredients of many curries, if the claims are true, 'bring the curries on'.


Asafoetida is an herbal medicine used to treat nervousness, bronchitis, and gas pain.
In Middle Eastern and Indian herbal medicine asafoetida is most often used for digestive problems such as colic, wind, bloating, indigestion and constipation.


It also has numerous health benefits, such as...
- improving digestion and stimulating the metabolism.
- Detoxifies the body of caffeine
- Cleanses kidneys and bladder
- Stimulates digestive system and reduces gas
- Expectorant action
- Improves circulation to the lungs and thus considered good for asthma and bronchitis
- Antispasmodic
- Can counteract excess acidity in the stomach
- Stimulates appetite
- Remedy for tendency to infection
- Cures halitosis (bad breath)

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is one of nature's most healing and therapeutic foods. Capsaicin is the main ingredient of cayenne pepper and is used topically to treat everything from osteoarthritis to cancer. According to the University of Maryland, Native Americans have used cayenne (or red pepper) as both food and medicine for at least 9,000 years. The hot and spicy taste of cayenne pepper is primarily due to an ingredient known as capsaicin. Although it tastes hot, capsaicin actually stimulates a region of the brain that lowers body temperature. Taken internally or applied topically, capsaicin is a great natural healing remedy.


Chillis are loaded with vitamin A, a potent antioxidant and boost to the immune system.
Due to the capsaicin levels, some believe that eating chillis may have an extra thermic affect, temporarily speeding up the metabolic rate, hence burning off calories at a faster rate.
The alkaloids from the capsaicin stimulate the action of stomach and intestine improving the whole digestion process!
These same heat inducing properties have a cumulative effect and over time are believed to alleviate pain when used in transdermal treatments for arthritis, nerve disorders (neuralgia), shingles and severe burns ... even cluster headaches. The mucus thinning properties promote coughing and can act as an expectorant for asthmatic conditions. Other claims are boosts to the immune system due to the antioxidants, lowering cholesterol, and blood thinning properties beneficial for the heart and blood vessels.


Studies have shown that just 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower LDL cholesterol. Several studies suggest that cinnamon may have a regulatory effect on blood sugar, making it especially beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes. In some studies, cinnamon has shown an amazing ability to stop medication-resistant yeast infections. In a study published by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Maryland, cinnamon reduced the proliferation of leukaemia and lymphoma cancer cells. It has an anti-clotting effect on the blood. In a study at Copenhagen University, patients given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning before breakfast had significant relief in arthritis pain after one week and could walk without pain within one month.


1. Protects against the Salmonella bacteria
2. Reportedly works as a natural chelation treatment
3. Aids in digestion and helps settle the stomach and prevent flatulence
4. Is an anti-inflammatory that may alleviate symptoms of arthritis
5. Protects against urinary tract infections
6. Prevents nausea
7. Relieves intestinal gas
8. Lowers blood sugar
9. Lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) and raises good cholesterol (HDL)
10. A good source of dietary fibre
11. A good source of iron
12. A good source of magnesium
13. Rich in phytonutrients and flavonoids


1. A compound in garlic called ajoene is a natural antioxidant that has anti-clotting abilities, thus helping in the prevention of heart disease and strokes.
2. Ajoene has also been shown to stop the spread of skin cancer cells when applied topically.
3. Compounds in garlic have been shown to prevent prostate cancer.
4. Garlic may protect against colon cancer by protecting colon cells from toxins and inhibiting the growth of cancer cells if they do develop. The selenium and vitamin C found in garlic are also known to protect against colon cancer.
5. Research suggests garlic may decrease the ability of H. pylori to cause ulcers and stomach cancer.
6. Research has shown that cooking garlic with meat reduces carcinogenic chemicals in cooked meat that are believed to be linked to breast cancer in meat-eating women.
7. The allicin in garlic has been shown in some studies to promote weight loss in rats.
8. The allicin in garlic has been shown to lower blood pressure.
9. Garlic has been proven to lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol.
10. It has been shown to reduce the carcinogenic effects of asbestos exposure.
11. It fights free radicals.
12. It has been shown to reduce inflammation and pain in the body, making it beneficial for people with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
15. Cold and flu prevention: Because of its antiviral and antibacterial properties as well as its vitamin C content, garlic is a powerful agent against the common cold as well as the flu.
16. It has been shown to fight the germs that cause tuberculosis.
17. A component of garlic called diallyl disulfide has been shown to kill leukaemia cells.
18. It is a good source of vitamin B6.
19. It has been shown to be an effective anti-fungal agent for treating yeast infections, vaginitis, and athlete's foot.
20. Garlic has been shown to protect rats from diabetes complications such as retinopathy, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, and neuropathy.


It has a warming effect on the body and this is excellent for circulatory problems and it helps alleviate cold hands and feet.
Ginger is also well known for its anti-inflammatory properties and hence its treatment for joints and connective tissues.
Ginger contains an enzyme called zingibain and more than 12 antioxidants which help neutralise the highly reactive molecules called free radicals, which play a role in causing inflammation.
People in Asian countries often take ginger for sore heads, seasickness, stomach upsets and vomiting. Ginger is very often taken before travelling.
University of Michigan researchers announced at the American Association of Cancer Research that tests show ginger kills cancer cells.
The study also found that the spice had the added benefit of stopping the cells from becoming resistant to treatment.


Onions and all the other members of the Allium family are thought to have some impact on high cholesterol and blood pressure.
Onions contain quercetin, a flavonoid (one category of antioxidant compounds). Antioxidants are compounds that help delay or slow the oxidative damage to cells and tissue of the body. Studies have indicated that quercetin helps to eliminate free radicals in the body, to inhibit low-density lipoprotein oxidation (an important reaction in the atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease), to protect and regenerate vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant) and to inactivate the harmful effects of chelate metal ions.
Other studies have shown that consumption of onions may be beneficial for reduced risk of certain diseases. Consumption of onions may prevent gastric ulcers by scavenging free radicals and by preventing growth of the ulcer-forming microorganism, Heliobacter pylori. University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers found that the more pungent onions exhibit strong anti-platelet activity. Platelet aggregation is associated with atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke.
Several studies have shown quercetin to have beneficial effects against many diseases and disorders including cataracts, cardiovascular disease as well as cancer of the breast, colon, ovarian, gastric, lung and bladder.
In addition, onions contain a variety of other naturally occurring chemicals known as organosulfur compounds that have been linked to lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.


One study showed that eating just 1/10 an ounce of scallions per day cut men's risk of prostate cancer by as much as 70 percent.


Tomatoes are one of the best sources of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant which has been shown in several studies to have a protective effect against prostate cancer. Though one recent study has created some doubt about the protective effect lycopene has against prostate cancer, the National Prostate Cancer Foundation says the earlier studies are still valid and continues to recommend that men eat plenty of foods containing lycopene.


The latest study demonstrates that curry shrinks colon polyps. In the study, patients with pre-cancerous polyps in the colon who took a pill containing a combination of curcumin, which is found in the curry spice turmeric, and quercetin, an antioxidant found in onions, experienced a marked reduction in both the size and number of polyps. Investigators are finding that curcumin has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic (or anti-cancer) properties. Curcumin is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory with potentially far-reaching health benefits. Based on human, animal, and cell studies, it may be helpful in rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, diabetic retinopathy, and cancer. All of these diseases share underlying inflammation that curcumin can diminish. Curry uses turmeric, obtained from the roots of Curcuma longa. Curcumin, consisting of several curcuminoids, is the active constituent of turmeric. Biologically, turmeric is related to ginger. A spicy ingredient of many curries may be an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease, say researchers. A team from the University of California at Los Angeles believes that turmeric may play a role in slowing down the progression of the neurodegenerative disease


Mint is carminative, stimulative, stomachic, diaphoretic and antispasmodic. Peppermint has the highest concentrations of menthol, while preparations of spearmint are often given to children. Mint is a general pick-me-up, good for colds, flu and fevers. Herbalists tell us it helps digestion, rheumatism, hiccups, stings, ear aches, flatulence and for throat and sinus ailments. There are also claims that a glass of crème de menthe helps with motion sickness.
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