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Herbs and Spices and Their Health Benefits

- April 18, 2015

lemongrass - herbs and spices The amount of information available to the average person today (because of the Internet) is almost overwhelming. And yet, some of the information we needed years ago is just now becoming commonplace. Herbs and spices and plants of all kinds may not be able to help us live longer, but… our quality of life can be maintained or improved well into old age. Not all of them, of course, because some plants are extremely dangerous. The expensive pharmaceutical drugs as well as the illicit ones are composed of mostly plant ingredients.

Herbs and Spices, Grasses and Weeds

I’m a coffee drinker but I drink far less coffee today than I ever did. I’m also a tea drinker (from the tea plant) and again, I drink far less tea today than I ever did. Until recently, I was drinking a lot more plain water than usual and probably because of the heat and humidity.

My wife, Josie, turned me on to lemongrass tea and I have a cup of it every morning. The botanical name for lemongrass is Cymbopogon and it includes dozens of species from around the world. It’s called tanglad in Tagalog, the local Filipino language where I live in the Philippines. Josie wants me to drink it regularly to lower my “borderline” high blood pressure. I don’t have high blood pressure (or hypertension) because I’ve never reached that magical mark on the tests but that’s what the dentist kept calling it when I was having some teeth pulled years ago. She kept calling it “borderline hypertension”. Well, it’s better to be safe than sorry, I always say (along with hundreds of other sayings). It can’t hurt to drink it and it doesn’t taste bad at all.

Josie wants me to also start drinking another kind of tea, made with something called sambong in Tagalog. It’s botanical name is Blumea balsamifera and I don’t think there’s an English word for it. Google Translate gives the word “sage” as the English translation, but it definitely doesn’t look like any herbs and spices I’ve seen labeled as such in grocery stores. From what I understand, it’s actually a weed. Don’t knock weeds, though, because I’ve heard you can eat some that grow wild in your yards.

I don’t think I’ll be able to drink sambong very often as it’s supposed to be a diuretic. In this hot and humid tropical climate, the one thing I don’t need to lose is water weight. I perspire all the time.



Herbs and Spices – the Traditional Kind

I’m talking about the kind of herbs and spices you keep in kitchen cabinets or on spice racks. Most of them have always been used for their culinary properties but only recently have we learned that many of them have medicinal properties as well. Oregano is one and I’m pretty sure that black pepper, even more commonly used, is one as well.

I haven’t done a lot of research on traditional herbs and spices, like cinnamon. I know it tastes good when it’s used the right way (that silly cinnamon test that was popular on the net for a while is the wrong way). Ginger is a root called luya in Tagalog and it has medicinal properties I’m well aware of. It’s also an ingredient I like added to arroz caldo.

Research is something I’ve done a lot of lately, just not on the health benefits of certain herbs and spices. That has to change. I don’t want to live long enough to be considered ancient, but I want to stay as healthy as I can until the day I check out.

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