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  • Writer's pictureDr. Kim Ross

Using Spices for Flavor and Health: Part 2

This is Part 2 of a 2 part series on herbs and spices that you can add to your daily cooking routine to enhance your health.

Cayenne Pepper

Culinary Uses

Leafy greens, soups, rice, and beans. It brings heat to a dish more so than it does flavor.

Health Benefits

Anti-catarrhal, anti-microbial, carminative, rubefacient, sialagogue, and stimulant.* Cayenne Pepper may be helpful in blocking the pain and itching in the skin nerves. It also may be useful in increasing peripheral blood circulation to the hands and feet.


Culinary Uses

Eggs, lamb, roast beef, pork, turkey, grilled fish, beans, all root vegetables, and French dishes. Can be used fresh or dried. Pair with bay, cilantro, oregano, sweet marjoram, rosemary, and sumac. Use whole sprigs in soups or stews. Plucked leaves can be added at any stage of cooking.

Health Benefits

Anti-microbial, anti-spasmodic, anthelmintic, astringent, carminative, and expectorant.* Thyme may be useful in treating upper respiratory infections, coughs, and bronchitis.


Culinary Uses

Fish, eggs, chicken, pasta, tomatoes, grains, onions, curries, Italian dishes, and Asian dishes. Can be used fresh or dried. Pair with basil, bay leaf, chives, dill, garlic, oregano, tarragon, and thyme.

Health Benefits

Anti-spasmodic, carminative, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, and hypotensive.* Parsley may be beneficial in eliminating water from the body and to stimulate menstruation.


Culinary Uses

Fish, potatoes, rice, pears, marinades, curries, and in stir-fry and miso soup. Can be used fresh in root form, ground, or dried. Pair with allspice, basil, chives, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, curry, fennel, garlic, nutmeg, pepper, and turmeric.

Health Benefits

Anti-spasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, rubefacient, and stimulant.* Ginger may be used to increase peripheral circulation to hands and feet. It is useful in treating motion sickness. Gargling ginger may help to relieve a sore throat.


Culinary Uses

Fish, bread, sausage, tomato sauce, and Italian dishes. Pair with basil, cilantro, cinnamon, dill, fenugreek, garlic, mint, parsley, and thyme.

Health Benefits

Anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, aromatic, carminative, galactagogue, and hepatic.* Fennel may be used to stimulate digestion and appetite. It may also be beneficial in calming the effects of bronchitis and coughs. It can be used to increase the milk flow in nursing mothers.

* 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 29, 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.

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