Challenge Yourself: 10 Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices to Incorporate Into Your Diet

Challenge Yourself: 10 Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices to Incorporate Into Your Diet

3 Comments

The ancient wisdom of Ayurveda is bursting with solutions for keeping both the body and the soul in good health. Among its valuable remedies are the indispensable Ayurvedic herbs and spices. Oftentimes, we don’t necessarily think of the healing properties of spices (I know I didn’t) so I’m launching a challenge: pick out 5 spices that work for your specific constitution from this list and incorporate them into your diet for enhanced well-being.

These staples have been used for centuries to promote physical balance, mental clarity, and optimal well-being. But what exactly are they? What benefits can you expect?  And more importantly, which ones should you stock up on? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most potent Ayurvedic herbs and spices and how they can help you thrive. After all, variety is the spice of life.

 

New Pure Brass Masala Box Set with Spoon Container 90 ML-Food Spice Storage Rack Indian spice rack ayurvedic herbs and spices for well-being ayurveda specialist detox turmeric ashwagandha brahmi

 

Top 10 Ayurvedic herbs and spices

Ayurvedic herbs and spices have been used for centuries to promote total well-being. From the pungent taste of ginger to the sweet aroma of cinnamon, these spices have been known to aid digestion, boost immunity, reduce inflammation, and help in weight management.

 

Cumin 

Aroma: nutty, lightly spicy, earthy

Taste: Pungent & Bitter

Energetic effect: heating

Properties: carminative properties, rich in iron, antioxidant

Uses: reduce bloating and flatulence, promotes digestion, reduce symptoms of IBS, support fat burning and weight loss

 

Cumin is one of those spices that go with almost everything, at least in my household. I add it to omelettes, curries, soups, you name it. Not to mention it balances all doshas, in particular Vata Dosha and Kapha Dosha. Cumin is a terrific aid in digestive issues, supports fat burn and weight loss and is especially useful in cleansing the blood.

What’s more, cumin contains vitamin A (retinol) and vitamin C which makes it a great ally in keeping healthy skin. It helps to restore colour after the cold season and supports a clear complexion. A top contender to your top 5 spices, if you ask me.

Tip: Add a dash of cumin to your eggs for enhanced taste. Trust me.

 

ayurvedic herbs and spices for well-being ayurveda specialist detox turmeric ashwagandha brahmi

 

Asafoetida (Hing)

Flavour: similar to onions, leeks and garlic with a pungent sulfuric smell

Taste: pungent

Energetic effect: heating

Properties: analgesic, digestive, anticonvulsant, antibacterial

Uses: great cardiac stimulant, improves digestion, helps in weight management by stimulating appetite, increases strength, reduces bloating and flatulence

 

Asafoetida is probably something you’re not yet familiar with. Allow me to change that, because this stimulating spice is a miracle worker for digestion. It’s originary to the countries of Asia Minor, like Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey and the Punjab and Peshawar regions of India. Asafoetida, also called Hing, is a very potent spice and is usually used as an anti-bloating spice in dishes that include legumes, as it makes them easier to break down and digest.

Since its energetic effect is heating, Hing can aggravate Pitta but is balancing for Kapha and Vata. Also, it is a tonic that increases strength by increasing appetite. At the same time, it contains sulphur compounds which act as stimulants for the skin. So, for all my friends who are on a weight-gain journey, do yourself a favour and add hing to your pantries.

Tip: Use a pinch of Asafoetida with any dishes that include legumes to reduce bloating and improve their digestion.

 

Turmeric

Flavour: earthy, with peppery and citrusy notes

Taste: pungent

Energetic effect: heating

Properties: appetiser, antidiuretic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antioxidant

Uses: reduces inflammation, enhances skin complexion, stimulates appetite, improves digestion, stimulates blood formation

 

The golden spice of Ayurveda, turmeric is an all-around staple in your pantry. From digestion to skin issues to cardiac health, turmeric is your go-to. Its antioxidant properties help fight free radicals and it is also known to decrease cortisol levels. Yes, please!

Turmeric is also a great help in skin issues, specifically hyperpigmentation and skin inflammation. I regularly use it in my DIY face masks (my favourite for glowing skin: chickpea flour, full-fat milk, turmeric and honey). Despite its bright yellow colour, it doesn’t stain the skin so use it with confidence.

Tip: for meals, use black pepper with turmeric to help facilitate its absorption in the body.

 

Black Pepper

Flavour: spicy

Taste: pungent

Energetic effect: heating

Properties: scraping agent, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant

Uses: stimulate digestion, reduce pain and inflammation, boost the absorption of nutrients, increase turmeric’s bioavailability

 

ayurvedic herbs and spices for well-being ayurveda specialist detox turmeric ashwagandha brahmi

 

Another staple in any Ayurvedic pantry, black pepper is a great stimulant and tonic for the nervous system. It also supports digestion and stimulates the circulatory system. What’s more, black pepper is a scraping agent, meaning it’s a great aid in reducing mucous secretion. This versatile spice also stimulates the sweat channels, ultimately purifying the skin.

Moreover, black pepper helps increase bioavailability, meaning it facilitates the transportation and absorption of nutrients in the body. At the same time, it helps support the natural detoxification process of the body. Black pepper helps balance Kapha and Vata, but due to its heating effect, use it with moderation, Pitta.

Tip: Unlike salt, black pepper is not a flavour enhancer so be mindful of how you use it in your meals. Add a pinch of black pepper to eggs to increase their digestibility 

 

Coriander (Cilantro)

Flavour: musky, with a touch of citrus notes

Taste: astringent, bitter and sweet

Energetic effect: heating (seeds), cooling (leaves)

Properties: cooling, antioxidant, diuretic, neuroprotective, antiseptic

Uses: reduces inflammation, helpful in indigestion, treats skin conditions

 

Hate it or love it. I, myself, love love love it. Green coriander is a great addition to curries, soups and wraps and it helps balance the heat in spicy dishes (no wonder Mexican cuisine is crazy about cilantro).

But that’s not all it does. Coriander supports healthy digestion and it helps improve liver function. At the same time, coriander acts as a tonic for the nervous system and helps protect overall brain health.

Tip: If you are team “hate green cilantro”, try to blend the seeds or powder into curries and soup. That way you will still get its benefits without the strong flavour. 

 

Brahmi

Flavour: mild

Taste: bitter & astringent

Energetic effect: cooling

Properties: anti-inflammatory, adaptogenic

Uses: reduces inflammation, improves brain function, supports the nervous system,

 

Brahmi can be used as an aromatic herb, however, the true power of brahmi lies in its medicinal uses. It has been used for centuries in Ayurveda as a brain tonic, supporting brain health and helping enhance memory. Not only that, but this herb is also extremely valuable in supporting the entire nervous system. Also, Brahmi is said to help in stress management.

Besides it being a great ally in supporting brain health and the nervous system, brahmi helps slow down ageing. It also supports the rejuvenation of cells and it has a soothing effect on the hair, scalp and skin.

Tip: add it to your pantry.

 

ayurvedic herbs and spices for well-being ayurveda specialist detox turmeric ashwagandha brahmi

 

Cinnamon

Flavour: rich, earthy, slightly bitter

Taste: bitter, pungent & sweet

Energetic effect: cooling

Properties: carminative, stimulant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidants

Uses: aphrodisiac, supports liver function, acts as an expectorant, used in oral health

 

I love this spice because it’s so versatile in the kitchen. Sweet or savoury, cinnamon can do it all. I use it in soups, pancakes, kitchari, you name it. But besides its rich flavour, cinnamon has a series of properties that will definitely convince you to add it to your spice rack.

Cinnamon has powerful detoxing properties and acts as a blood purifier. Also, it supports liver function and helps support the overall cardiovascular system. Not to mention it helps the body fight the oxidative process due to its antioxidant properties.

It can also curb the appetite so if you are on a weight loss journey, make sure to include cinnamon in your diet. At the same time, cinnamon works as an aphrodisiac. You heard me right. Due to its oxytocic and aphrodisiac properties, it has a long history of supporting sexual health.

Tip: add a pinch of cinnamon to your oatmeal to increase its digestive power

 

Ashwagandha

Flavour: earthy

Taste: sweet, astringent & bitter

Energetic effect: heating

Properties: sedative, anti-inflammatory, adaptogen, aphrodisiac

Uses: increases muscle strength, supports the immune system, improves mental function, supports mental health, supports sexual health

 

No Ayurvedic spice and herbs list is complete without Ashwagandha. Probably one of the most notorious Ayurvedic herbs, Ashwagandha has been used left and right as a support-all supplement. In reality, Ashwagandha isn’t Tridoshic, meaning it is not suitable for everybody. It balances Kapha and Vata but can aggravate Pitta. It’s heating in nature so, Pittas, be careful when using it.

Its glory is not entirely undeserved though. On the contrary, this herb is potent and valuable in supporting the nervous, circulatory and reproductive systems. It helps reduce symptoms of stress and supports overall brain health by helping to sharpen focus and memory. Not only that, but this herb has very potent rejuvenating properties which makes it a fierce help in anti-aging.

Gym rats and mice, rejoice. Ashwagandha is also efficient in improving muscle strength so if you’re looking for an all-natural protein shake effect, try and add this to your diet. At the same time, this herb is nourishing as well and a good ally in weight gain.

Tip: Ashwagandha can be too heating for Pitta so consider taking it with Triphala which helps balance Pitta. 

 

Tulsi

Flavour: similar to anise with a hint of mint

Taste: pungent & bitter

Energetic effect: heating

Properties: antioxidant, antibacterial, diuretic, adaptogen

Uses: supports the immune system, cardiac stimulant, detoxifying, weight management

 

Tulsi, also called Holy Basil, is a much-revered herb in Ayurveda. It’s pacifying for both Kapha and Vata, and it’s a great supporter of the immune system. At the same time, it possesses adaptogenic properties, meaning it can help relieve stress. However, it can be aggravating for Pitta due to its heating energetic effect.

Tulsi also has a soothing effect on the nervous system, promoting mental clarity and inner peace (not for nothing it’s called “liquid yoga”). What’s more, tulsi’s properties are nourishing for all mind, body and soul, almost single-handedly enhancing overall well-being. It helps in detoxifying the body, supports the digestive system and is a great expectorant. To put it plain and simple, it works on all levels as an enhancer and supporter.

Tip: add a couple of tulsi leaves to your glass of warm water in the morning or use it as you would basil in different meals.   

 

Ginger

Flavour: slightly peppery and sweet, with a spicy kick

Taste: pungent

Energetic effect: heating

Properties: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, appetiser

Uses: supports the immune system, cardiac stimulant,  weight loss

 

Ah, ginger. Who here hasn’t heard of this magnificent spice? Whether fresh or powdered or candied, it’s a great addition to the kitchen. I use it in my tahini dressing or in stir fries and curries and always, without exception, in my morning glass of warm water.

Ginger is a great appetizer, meaning it can fire up agni, but it’s also a great digestive. It is also a detoxifier, helping purify the blood and flush out all unwanted toxins. Its analgesic properties make it a great ally in alleviating pain, especially menstrual and general abdominal pain.

Ginger helps pacify both Kapha and Vata but can be aggravating for Pitta.

Tip: Grate a large piece of ginger and boil it in a cup of water for five minutes. Strain it and add a little honey and lemon juice. Drink this ginger tea during your menstrual cycle.

 

ayurvedic herbs and spices for well-being ayurveda specialist detox turmeric ashwagandha brahmi

 

 

So there you have it. A list of some of the most beneficial spices and herbs according to Ayurveda. These staples of Ayurvedic herbs and spices may hold the key to unlocking holistic well-being. From the tangy turmeric to the aromatic cumin, these ingredients have been used for centuries to fight off illness, soothe the soul, clear the mind and fight ageing effects.

However, as with everything that possesses medical properties, there are some contraindications in using these as supplements based on your unique situation. So be mindful when using this list and when in doubt, double check with your (Ayurvedic) doctor.

 



3 thoughts on “Challenge Yourself: 10 Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices to Incorporate Into Your Diet”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *