Spices in India
Spices have been closely linked with many cultural traditions and beliefs, from magic to medicine and from health to embalming since early human history. Spices have been a key component of India’s trade and economy for more than 7,000 years – long before the Greek and Roman civilizations.
The clove is mentioned in the Ramayana – as well as in writings dating back to the Roman Empire in the 1st century AD. In ancient times caravans of camels moved regularly from Calicut, Goa and the Orient to transport these spices to distant destinations such as Carthage, Alexandria and Rome.
Today we can buy these spices in our local supermarket, but there was a time when people risked their lives to gain access to Indian spices.
India produces a wide range of spices, oils and oleoresins of various grades. Indian spices and spice derivatives account for over 70% of world production.
Black cardamom eases digestive problems and reduces flatulence, it is known to provide relief from throat problems, chest congestion, and gum infection. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties and the fact that it can alleviate muscle spasms, black cardamom helps asthmatics. It is a great ingredient for respiratory problems.
Black pepper helps increase the production of hydrochloric acid that the stomach needs to help in digestion. It is also anti – bacterial in nature, reduces blood pressure and contains iron that is beneficial for the body.
Chili peppers contain a substance called capsaicin, which gives peppers their characteristic pungency, producing mild to intense spice when eaten Studies show that capsaicin can fight Inflammation, provide natural pain relief, reduce blood cholesterol, clear congestion, boost immunity, help prevent the spread of Prostate Cancer, aid weight loss & lower risk of Type 2 Diabetes
The antiseptic and antibiotic properties of clove oil are used in medicines especially in dentistry, oral and pharyngeal treatments. It has wider applications in preparations of toothpaste and mouthwashes, soaps and perfumes. It is also reported to help diabetics in sugar assimilation.
It is helpful for diabetics as it helps in the digestion of sugar. It has astringent; stimulant and carminative properties and can check nausea and vomiting. Cinnamon is also an anti-inflammatory, improves cardiovascular health, increases metabolic rate, helps control and regulate blood sugar, and has anti-microbial effects
Cumin is known to relieve some digestive problems, reduce chances of anaemia and the alleviate common cold. Antiseptic properties of cumin can help fight flu by boosting the immune system. Cumin helps control stomach pain, indigestion, diarrhoea, nausea and morning sickness. Cumin also contains a good amount of iron.
Garlic with its antiviral and antibacterial properties helps boost immunity and keeps you looking fresh and healthy. Garlic’s ability to fight infections and bacteria makes it an effective cure for warts and skin problems. Garlic’s antibacterial and anesthetising properties can help cure toothaches.
Ginger helps to relieve common colds. It is also known for its quick relieving effects on heartburn, nausea, upset stomach, diarrhoea, motion and morning sickness. It has been found to be a beneficial anti-inflammatory, due to its high levels of gingerol, making it a great natural remedy for headaches, minor body aches and even some cases of arthritis.
Nutmeg has anti-bacterial properties. It helps in fighting tooth decay, Alzheimer’s and improves memory. It can also release tension in muscles.
Saffron has the ability to treat depression, prevents loss of vision, and improves memory. The stigma of the flower can help digestive issues with its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-depressant properties. In medicine, saffron is used in fevers, melancholia, and enlargement of liver and spleen. In Ayurvedic medicine it is used to heal arthritis, impotence and infertility.
Studies have shown that turmeric could help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and joint inflammation. It also helps in minimising liver damage caused by taking excessive alcohol consumption or regular use of pain-killers. A warm glass of milk mixed with turmeric helps with coughs and colds. It is also an antiseptic.