top of page
  • Writer's pictureDr. Kim Ross

Using Spices for Flavor and Health: Part 1

Updated: Jan 22

Herbs and spices are very important for our health and they add wonderful flavor to our foods. This is Part 1 of a 2 part series on herbs and spices that you can add to your daily cooking routine to enhance your health.


Culinary Uses:

Grilled fish, pork, turkey, roast beef, white beans, apples, polenta, cauliflower, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, potatoes, all root vegetables, and Italian dishes. Keep it on the stem when used in soups and stews and remove it when done simmering. Lay it on hot charcoals while grilling to add flavor to meat. Can be used fresh or dried. Pair with fennel, garlic oregano, parsley, and thyme.

Health benefits:

Anti-bacterial, anti-depressant, anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, anti-spasmodic, carminative, emmenagogue, hepatoprotective, neuroprotective, chemoprotective, and rubefacient.* Rosemary may improve concentration, memory, blood flow and it may help to fight cancer.


Culinary Uses:

Kale, spinach, soups, stews, potatoes, salad dressings, Italian dishes, Mexican dishes, and Chinese dishes. Can be used as whole clove, granulated, minced, or powdered form. Do not use with fruits, sweet spices, sweets, or desserts.

Health benefits:

Anti-microbial, anti-spasmodic, cholagogue, diaphoretic, hypocholesteremic, and hypotensive.* Garlic may lower cholesterol, blood pressure, blood glucose, and help to reduce the incidence of colds.


Culinary Uses:

White meats, lamb, turkey, roast beef, raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, Italian dishes, and Greek dishes. Can be used as whole leaves, chopped, or ground. Pair with chives, cilantro, garlic, oregano, parsley, rosemary, and thyme. Add at the end of cooking time or on a prepared dish.

Health benefits:

Anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-septic, anti-spasmodic, circulatory stimulant, diaphoretic, febrifuge, nervine, and sedative.* Basil may be beneficial in alleviating the symptoms of anxiety and depression. It may also help with lowering blood sugar.


Culinary Uses:

Curries, soups, stews, beans, and Southwest/Mexican dishes. Can be used as whole seeds or ground. Also acts as a substitute for saffron. Pair with allspice, cardamom, cilantro, coriander, curry, fennel, fenugreek, garlic, nutmeg, or parsley.

Health benefits:

Anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-spasmodic, cholagogue, hepatoprotective, and hypolipidaemic*. Tumeric may have cancer preventative properties, inhibit platelet aggregation, and be helpful in wound healing.

CAUTION: Turmeric easily stains clothing, surfaces, and fingers. Wear glvoes adn wash any surfaces immediately.


Culinary Uses:

Apples, beef, chocolate, stews, curries, chickpeas, carrots, tea, coffee, and spicy dishes. Can be used as rolled bark (cinnamon sticks) or ground. Pair with allspice, ginger, and nutmeg.

Health benefits:

Anti-fungal, anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, astringent, carminative, emmenagogue, stimulant, tonic, and stomachic.* Cinnamon may be useful in lowering blood lipids and blood glucose.

* Health benefits key:

Anthelmintic (destroys parasitic worms)

Anti-catarrhal (decongestant)

Anti-depressant (reduces depression)

Anti-fungal (prevents the growth of fungi)

Anti-inflammatory (reduces inflammation)

Anti-microbial (destroys or inhibits growth of microorganisms)

Anti-oxidant (inhibits oxidation)

Antiseptic (prevents the growth of microorganisms that cause disease)

Anti-spasmodic (reduces involuntary muscle spasms)

Aromatic (relaxes the body digestive or nervous systems

Astringent (drying, draws out, constricting)

Carminative (relieves flatulence)

Chemoprotective (protects healthy tissue from the toxic effects of anticancer drugs)

Cholagogue (promotes the flow/discharge of bile from the gall bladder into the duodenum)

Circulatory stimulant (increases blood flow through body tissues)

Diaphoretic (induces perspiration)

Diuretic (increases the passing of urine)

Emmenagogue (stimulates/increases menstrual flow)

Expectorant (promotes secretion of sputum by the air passages)

Febrifuge (reduces fever)

Galactagogue (promotes or increases the flow of mother’s milk)

Hepatoprotective/Hepatic (tones and strengthens the liver/prevents damage to the liver)

Hypocholesteremic (lowers cholesterol)

Hypotensive (lowers blood pressure)

Nervine (calms the nerves)

Neuroprotective (protects against nerve cell damage, degeneration, or impairment of function)

Rubefacient (applied topically to increase blood circulation)

Sedative (promotes calm or induces sleep)

Sialagogue (promotes secretion of saliva)

Stimulant (increases a body system actions/increases blood flow through body tissues)

Stomachic (improves the function and tone of the stomach and increases appetite)

Tonic (nutritive and help to restore and strengthen body systems)

About the author: Sam Tucker is a graduate of New York Chiropractic College with a Master's in Applied Clinical Nutrition and hold the Certified Nutrition Specialist credential.

Review: December 15, 2023


1.Cole, H. Fine Dining Lovers. The Ultimate Guide to Herbs and Spices in 7 Handy Charts. August 2, 2017. Available from: Accessed on March 24, 2018.

2,Chef Menus. Herb and Spice Chart. (ND). Available from: Accessed on March 24, 2018.

3,Ratfink, J. How to Use Herbs and Spices in Cooking. June 12, 2009. Available from: Accessed on March 24, 2018.

4. Adventures In Spice. Flavor Map. (ND). Available from: Accessed on March 24, 2018.

5.Hoffmann D. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Healing Arts Press. Rochester, VT. C2003. P 94, 526, 536, 551, 571, 577, 589, 597.

6.Golden Poppy Herbs. Holy Basil. August 26, 2014. Available from: Accessed on March 17, 2018.

7.Henriette’s Herb. King’s American Dispensatory - C1898: Cinnamonum.-Cinnamon. C1995-2018. Available from: Accessed on April 17, 2018.

8.Braun L, Cohen M, et al. Herbs & Natural Supplements: An Evidence-Based Guide (Volume 2, 4th Edition). Elseiver/Churchill Livingstone. Chatswood, Australia. C2015. P 195, 393, 854, 985, 1015.

Picture free for use under Creative Commons license:


Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page