Body & Fitness

Sage advice: the healing power of herbs

Thyme may ease the misery of acne, according to a study published last month. So which other herbs and spices can benefit your body?

**Best for anaemia – rosemary:

**Rosemary leaves are high in iron. A lack of this mineral can cause fatigue and anaemia. It also contains carnosic, which can shield the brain from damaging free radicals. According to a study in the Journal of Neurochemistry, rosemary also  lowers the risk of strokes and neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimers.

Best for blood pressure – basil: 

A study at Xinjiang Medical University found an extract of the herb reduced blood pressure in a similar way to medication. It’s thought it affects levels of endothelins, proteins which constrict blood vessels.

**Best for diabetics – fenugreek: 

**”A daily extract of its seeds improves diabetics blood sugar control and decreases insulin resistance,” say researchers at the Jaipur Diabetes and Research Centre in India. It may also increase inadequate breast milk supply, nursing mothers have reported. But as the spice is also a traditional remedy to induce childbirth, the seeds shouldn’t be taken during pregnancy.

Best for thrush – oregano:

This contains the powerful antifungal agents thymol and carvacrol. A study at Georgetown University Medical Centre in Washington showed that carvacrol inhibited the growth of the fungus Candida albicans (which causes thrush) better than a common antifungal medication.

Best for preventing food poisoning – coriander:

Coriander oil has been shown to fight against food poisoning bacteria campylobacter, according to research published in the Journal Of Medical Microbiology. Chicken and red meat (particularly mince) can carry campylobacter, which may cause illness if food is undercooked. You could add ground coriander seeds (which provide the essential oil component) to your burgers and chicken dishes. 

Best for mood and memory – sage:

Healthy young volunteers who were given capsules with high doses of sage essential oil in a study at Northumbria University said their mood was consistently enhanced. In older people, Australian research found extract of sage improved memory and attention. The herb is thought to inhibit breakdown of acetylcholine, a brain chemical associated with attention span and sharp memory.

Best for stomach ulcers – cardamom: 

If you’ve had a stomach ulcer, or are prone to them, try adding cardamom to spicy dishes or rice pudding. Indian researchers found its oil extracts protect the stomach lining and helped guard against ulcers induced by alcohol and aspirin. The active ingredient is thought to be nootkatone, obtained from ground pods.

 – Angela Dowden

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