Get Spicy: 15 Natural Prescriptions for Health

Maintaining your health and optimum weight is a life-long project–one that is easier for some of us than others.  If you’re not using the right herbs and spices in your fight against fat or physical pain, you are missing out!  Too often, they are relegated to attractively-labeled but rarely-used bottles on dusty spice racks. That’s a serious bummer, because using the right blend of these taste enhancers produces delicious, low-calorie dishes that will make it easier to stick with your new weight-loss-friendly eating habits.

Even better, many herbs and spices contain antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and unique medicinal properties.  So if you’re trying to lose a few (or more) pounds, consider adding high-quality supplements of some of the following to your diet, and being very generous when adding them to your food.

Using herbs and spices expands your palette without extra calories and may decrease the amount of salt, fat, and sugar you use without sacrificing flavor.  Experiment with the spices and herbs in this list to discover a new path to health and longevity!

#1 Mustard Seed

Is your faith in natural healing and weight loss the size of a mustard seed?  If so, this powerful plant packs a serious surprise for you.  The mustard plant is in the cruciferous family of vegetables (along with broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts). Mustard seeds have been shown to boost metabolic rate by 25 percent, which means you’ll burn calories more efficiently. In fact, just 3/5 teaspoon of mustard seeds daily may help you burn an extra 45 calories an hour. Whoa!  [1]

Mustard flower with seeds

Beyond the mustard you might associate with hot dogs, try seasoning your food with powdered dry mustard seed for an extra kick!

 #2 Turmeric

Turmeric has been known and used for its for its medicinal properties in India for thousands of years.  This tasty spice, a relative of ginger that is commonly associated with Indian food, has been shown to help reduce inflammation, high levels of which may be a significant cause of obesity and difficulty losing weight.

There is an ample amount of high-quality scientific research that has demonstrated its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiseptic, and anti-cancer properties.  The most active compound in turmeric is called curcumin, which has been shown to protect against free radical damage because it’s a super-antioxidant.[2]


Curcumin reduces inflammation by lowering your histamine levels, and helps to prevent new cancers that are caused by chemotherapy or radiation therapy used to treat existing cancers. It effectively inhibits metastasis (uncontrolled spread) of melanoma (skin cancer) cells, and can actually deactivate the carcinogens in cigarette smoke and chewing tobacco. [3,4]

#3 Black Pepper

The substance in black pepper that gives it that peppery flavor, called piperine, has been shown to help the body burn more calories through the process of thermogenesis, and it also helps the body absorb the beneficial compounds in turmeric. Piperine can also help your body use nutrients more efficiently and blocks the formation of new fat cells. When combined with capsaicin and other substances, black pepper was also found to burn as many calories as taking a 20-minute walk. Black pepper increases the bio-availability of just about all other foods–herbs and other compounds—making it a healthy choice for virtually any meal.  [5]


#4 Cinnamon

Liberally sprinkling cinnamon on your oatmeal can help to control your blood sugar and insulin levels, regulate your metabolism and protect you from diabetes, while simultaneously managing your hunger. This spice has impressive benefits for blood sugar regulation, making it an ideal seasoning for people with diabetes or hypoglycemia, a condition commonly associated with alcoholism.

Cinnamon and star anise


Cinnamon has been found to significantly reduce blood sugar levels, triglycerides, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes, as well as increase sugar metabolism by about 20 times, which would significantly improve your ability to regulate blood sugar. [6]

#5 Ginger

This super-food comes from a variety of roots called rhizomes, and is seen in kitchens around the globe.  It has been shown as a promising treatment in the fight against ovarian cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, arthritis, and obesity.  Ginger has been commonly used in traditional medicine to calm the stomach and reduce digestive discomfort.  Fresh or powdered ginger may be able to help reduce your appetite and cut cravings, in a mechanism wherein it’s thought to improve digestion by increasing the pH of the stomach and stimulating the digestive enzymes.

Because ginger also has a high fiber content, it increases gastrointestinal motility. The combination of these two effects means that essential nutrients are absorbed quickly while the non-essential foods that cause bloating and constipation are quickly eliminated. [6]

A common way to take ginger is to make ginger tea, by adding ½ teaspoon of the powdered herb to 4 – 6 ounces of hot water. Once dissolved, the tea can be sweetened as needed.

#6 Cayenne pepper

A compound in hot peppers called dihydrocapsiate was shown, in a study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior, to increase the body’s ability to burn fat when eaten three times per day, especially in people who aren’t used to eating spicy foods.

Cayenne pepper dilates your blood vessels and speeds your metabolism due to the high amounts of capsaicin. When you eat cayenne peppers, the amount of heat your body puts off (thermogenesis) increases.


In animal studies, capsaicin has the ability to boost metabolism, which in turn causes weight loss. This increases circulation and blood flow to all major organs, facilitating oxygen and nutrient delivery. Capsaicin may support healthy energy levels, while suppressing appetite. [7]

#7 Coriander

The seed of the Cilantro plant is Coriander, a commonly used kitchen spice which is very beneficial for losing water weight.  It is well known in many developing countries that coriander relieves swelling of the legs due to water retention.  It also helps in digestion if you have a queasy stomach.  Coriander has some antimicrobial properties and is thought to shield against Salmonella bacteria.


You can prepare a savory tea of coriander seeds by placing two teaspoons of them in boiling water.

#8 Cumin

Similarly, although it hasn’t been studied by itself, cumin has been shown to improve weight loss when mixed with other herbs and spices.  [8]


The health benefits of cumin include its ability to aid in digestion, improve immunity and treat piles, insomnia, respiratory disorders, asthma, bronchitis, common cold, lactation, anemia, skin disorders, boils and cancer.

#8 Parsley

Several studies that looked at rats have shown that parsley can help to reduce the amount of glucose present in the blood.

Parsley on white

If this is true in humans, parsley would likely help to control appetite and promote healthy processing of food into energy. [9]

#9 Ginseng

Multiple animal studies have shown that the herb Panax ginseng can help aid in weight reduction, and even slow weight gain resulting from diets high in fat.  Ginseng is valued for its ability to boost energy levels and speed metabolism.


Panax ginseng, in particular, has been linked to weight loss benefits, with one study showing obese, diabetic mice given panax ginseng extracts not only had improvements in insulin sensitivity, but also lost a significant amount of weight after 12 days. [10]

#10 Cardamom

Cardamom is a spice native to the Middle East, North Africa, and Scandinavia. There are three types of cardamom; green cardamom, black cardamom and Madagascar cardamom. It is best to buy this particular spice still in the pods, then remove and discard the pod as you would a nut shell.

cardamom on white background

You can also buy cardamom seeds, but they can be stored for years and lose much of their flavor. Most recipes usually call for green cardamom. Studies of rats given diets high in cardamom have shown that can aid in lowering blood glucose and regulating insulin, as well as lowering levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol. [11]

#11 Cloves

Like many of the other thermogenic spices on this list, cloves can help you lose weight by heating up your metabolism and helping your body to burn more calories.


Be sure to use this one sparingly, as even a little bit packs a big punch.

#13 Garlic

Adding garlic to your food in fresh or powdered form might be able to help you metabolize carbohydrates and fats more efficiently. Garlic is excellent for cardiovascular and circulatory health, and it’s pungent, aromatic flavor is a great addition to almost any savory dish.


Animal studies have shown, too, that garlic may prevent the body from creating more fat. [12]

Plus, it keeps vampires at bay! What’s not to love?

#14 Green Tea

Green tea is well-proven to have a number of health benefits. In addition to helping prevent cancer and diabetes, green tea can also speed up your metabolism and help you lose weight. [13]


#15 Peppermint

A study published in 2009 found that the smell of peppermint can help to decrease appetite. In the study, participants who spent a week smelling peppermint before they ate generally consumed 1,800 fewer calories throughout the week than the control group.



Originally published @ NeuroGym

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