Modern science is starting to catch on to the wisdom of our ancestors, who knew a lot about using aromatic herbs and spices for medicinal purposes. Yet it’s only recently that scientists have discovered the bioactive constituents and molecular mechanisms of several common kitchen spices Saffron: Nerve Tonic
Described as “the most expensive cultivated herb in the world,” saffron (Crocus sativus) is a much-revered food seasoning and a natural colorant. A rich source of riboflavin (vitamin B-2) and free-radical scavengers, saffron has a long history of use as a folk medicine for treating cancer, convulsions, headaches, skin conditions, asthma, ulcers, premenstrual distress, and other diseases.
Turmeric: Holy Powder
A significant ingredient in most commercial curries, as well as a staple of Ayurvedic medical practice. Much like saffron, curcumin is a potent antioxidant that confers neuroprotective effects through multiple molecular channels. Turmeric protects against alcohol-induced brain damage, improves insulin sensitivity and cardiovascular function, inhibits platelet aggregation, and facilitates the clearing of beta-amyloid plaque associated with Alzheimer’s dementia.
Peppercorn: Black Gold
Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is the world’s most traded spice. The manifold therapeutic properties of black pepper have been validated by modern science. The essential oil of black pepper reduces nicotine cravings and eases withdrawal symptoms. An anti-spasmodic and anti-convulsant, it can also lower blood pressure and relieve digestive distress. Piperine, black pepper’s principal bioactive constituent, has been shown to inhibit cancer cell proliferation in animal models of osteosarcoma.
Nutmeg: Cannabinoid Booster
A study published earlier this year inPharmaceutical Biology reported that nutmeg interacts with the endocannabinoid system by inhibiting certain key enzymes that catabolize (break down) the two main endocannabinoids, anandamide and 2AG. Likened to the brain’s own marijuana, these short-lived endogenous cannabinoid compounds bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors. This triggers a signaling cascade on a cellular level that protects neurons against toxic insults (stress) and promotes neurogenesis (the creation of new stem cells in adult mammals).
Original Article from: Alternet.Org