I’ve long been a fan of of traditional healing modalities, particularly Ayurveda. Maybe it’s because I’ve always been drawn to Indian culture, food, patterns, etc.
But whatever the reason, I’ve been incorporating various Ayurvedic practices into my life for years. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to experience champissage (Indian head massage) then you’ll know how blissful it is!
If you’re unfamiliar with Ayurveda, here’s a bit of info on it:
Ayurveda is a traditional Hindu system of medicine which aims to nourish and balance the mind and body as whole, rather than merely treating the symptoms of disease.
And while this ancient system of medicine has been followed in India for thousands of years, it’s started to gain popularity in the Western world.
I am truly grateful for modern medicine and I would never refuse treatment or ignore the wisdom and education of western doctors. However, I do believe that traditional and western medicine can, and should, work together.
Herbs play an important role in ayurvedic medicine, and there are literally thousands of different herbs that ayurvedic practitioners utilize in their practice. Many of these herbs are difficult, if not impossible, to find in the United States.
However, you might be surprised to learn that many of the herbs and spices you probably already have in your pantry are used in ayurvedic medicine.
These common herbs and spices have amazing health-boosting qualities and are available to purchase at virtually any grocery store or online.
5 Common Ayurvedic Herbs to Incorporate Into Your Daily Life
Native to India, turmeric is one of the most frequently used and most powerful herbal remedies in ayurvedic medicine. Non-medicinally, turmeric is a common ingredient in various curries, soups, and sauces.
Health Benefits of Turmeric
- Has strong anti-inflammatory properties
- Increases antioxidants in the body
- Improves brain function
- Detoxifies the liver
- May help to treat depression
- Has anti-cancer properties
- Promotes gut health
- Aides in weight management by regulating the metabolism
The active medicinal substance in turmeric is curcumin, which is poorly absorbed into the blood stream, unless consumed with black pepper. Combining curcumin with black pepper increases bioavailability by up to 2000%.
A simple and delicious way to do this is by making Golden Milk (here’s a good recipe.)
You can also purchase curcumin supplements that contain black pepper extract.
Cardamom is one of the most expensive spices in the world, coming in third behind saffron and vanilla. Native to India, Indonesia, Bhutan, and Nepal, cardamom is a common ingredient in Indian cuisine. And due to it’s many medicinal qualities, cardamom is also utilized in ayurvedic medicine.
As part of the ginger family, cardamom is a warming, highly aromatic spice.
Health Benefits of Cardamom
- Helps with digestive issues
- Rich in vitamins
- Extremely high in manganese
- Helps to reduce high blood pressure
- Increases antioxidants in the body
- Helps to treat urinary tract infections
- Improves blood circulation
- Has anti-carcinogenic properties
- Helps to relieve nausea
- Helps to prevent and relieve colds and flu
There are a number of easy ways to benefit from the medicinal properties of cardamom.
You can use cardamom in curries, soups, stews, and even various indian desserts. Indian Simmer is a wonderful resource for traditional Indian recipes.
Masala Chai Tea contains cardamom, along with cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper, making it an amazing source of nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants. Vahdam is an Indian company that makes an amazing Masala Chai Tea – you can find it here.
You can buy organic cardamom here. You should also be able to find cardamom in most grocery stores.
Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner layer of bark of a variety of trees belonging to the genus Cinnamomum.
Cinnamon is one of the most frequently used spices in the world, and a firm favorite in the United States. Due to it’s unique, warming, aroma and sweet, taste, cinnamon is commonly used to flavor desserts.
However, beyond it’s delicious flavor, cinnamon is absolutely packed with health benefits.
Health Benefits of Cinnamon
- Helps to control blood sugar
- Full of antioxidants
- Can help lower cholesterol
- Is anti-microbial and anti-bacterial
- Boost metabolism
- Helps to treat colds and flu
- Protects brain function
- Improves gut health
- Promotes healthy teeth and gums
- Helps with joint pain
Cinnamon is one of the most versatile, easy-to-use spices.
Cinnamon can be used to flavor a variety of desserts and savory dishes. You can also add a dash of cinnamon to your morning smoothie for added flavor and a nutritional boost.
Due to it’s high anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties, cinnamon bark essential oil is an excellent essential oil to diffuse during cold and flu season. (Always make sure to consult with a qualified aromatherapist before diffusing essential oils if you are pregnant or have small children.)
You can also take cinnamon capsules for an added boost (find them here.)
Native to southern Asia, ginger is a warm climate plant that can be grown almost anywhere.
Ginger is an incredibly versatile plant, with a strong, pungent aroma and a slightly sweet, biting flavor.
Ginger is a common ingredient in a variety of cuisines, including Indian and Asian and is also used to flavor various desserts and beverages, including gingerbread and ginger beer.
Ginger, in various forms, is frequently recommended to pregnant women to help relieve morning sickness.
Health Benefits of Ginger
- Helps to relieve nausea and various stomach upsets
- Can significantly reduce morning sickness in pregnant women (always check with your healthcare professional before use)
- Powerful anti-inflammatory
- Helps to relieve indigestion
- Improves digestive health
Ginger can be used fresh, ground, in capsules, or in tea.
Fresh ginger can be found at any grocery store.
Ground ginger and ginger tea can be purchased online. I buy mine from Thrive Market. I love Thrive Market!
Not only does Thrive Market have an amazing variety of organic, non-GMO products that are delivered straight to your door, they also committed to helping low-income families access health products by providing free Thrive memberships to those who qualify.
Did you know that cloves are actually flowers?
That’s right – a clove is the unopened, dried flower of an Indonesian evergreen tree.
Cloves are warming and soothing, with a pungent aroma. Cloves have been used in ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years and are also a common ingredient in asian cooking.
Health Benefits of Cloves
- Helps to improve digestion
- Contains antibacterial properties
- Helps to preserve bone density
- Boosts the immune system
- Helps to relieve toothache
Cloves can be used to flavor both sweet and savory dishes. Because of their warm, spicy flavor, cloves are popular in fall and winter recipes, including pumpkin pie and various stews and soups.
Clove essential oil can be diffused and you can also add a dash of ground cloves into your morning smoothie.
There are thousands of herbs and spices used in Ayurvedic medicine – I’ve merely touched on five spices that you can easily find, that all contain amazing health benefits.
If you’re interested in learning more about the fundamental principles of Ayurveda, then this book is a great resource.
Do you have any other common Ayurvedic spices that you incorporate into your daily life? Let me know in the comments!