Flavors of Fall
It's that time of year again - time for Pumpkin Spice! Spices we commonly use are often also Chinese Herbs, so today let's dive in to the possible health benefits of these celebrated spices.
Cinnamon, aka gui zhi, is often used to treat minor illness of the upper respiratory tract. It can also aid in pain relief, phlegm or chest discomfort, and menstrual pain.
Ginger, aka sheng jiang, is used to benefit cases of nausea, some illnesses, and some coughs.
Cloves. aka ding xiang, is primarily added to formulas to warm the body and aid digestion. It can also help tonify the reproductive organs (in cases of weakness) and can help energize the body in general.
Nutmeg, aka rou dou kou, is also a warming digestive aid that helps with diarrhea and loss of appetite.
Cardamom, aka sha ren, can aid digestion issues such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and lack of appetite.
Together these herbs are warming, can help release the exterior in cases of mild illness or pain, and can help with digestive difficulties, especially of a deficient nature. If you are feeling chilly, have low energy, and some loose stool - these spices are perfect for you. They can also help you digest those big holiday meals.
Because they do help with low appetite, they can stimulate your feelings of hunger so it's not a great way to diet.
Not An Excuse to Indulge
If your spiced food or beverage is also loaded with sugar, many of the health benefits are negated, and the sugar itself can weaken your immune system. Try making your own teas and beverages at home with less sugar, or with honey or stevia. In some cafes you can also ask for your beverage to be less sweet.
If you think you might be coming down with a cold, or if you're having some menstrul cramps you can also give it a try. But because these herbs can help with low appetite, they can stimulate your feelings of hunger so it's not a great way to diet.
About the Author:
Kat Powers is a licensed acupuncturist with the State of Oregon, and Nationally certified by the NCCAOM.
Main reference for this article: Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica, 3rd Edition, compiled and translated by Dan Bensky, Steven Clavey, Erich Stoger, with Andre Gamble. 2004, 1993, 1986 by Eastland Press.