Spice up Your Brain Cells!

A lot of folks are hearing about how certain spices (besides adding flavor) flaunt healing qualities! But did you know that there are several natural compounds that actually protect our brain cells from degeneration? Check out how certain spices may help create new treatments for diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Cooking up New Methods

Dementia is an irreversible, pervasive affliction that currently affects over 25 million people globally. The condition is progressive, and our methods of treatment are: 1) dealing with symptoms, and 2) attempting ways to keep degeneration at bay for as long as possible.

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia.

There have been (and continue to be) studies examining how particular spices affect the brain. The hope is to discover significant compounds that may help prevent, delay, or even treat neurodegenerative diseases. Four main spices are often in the forefront of such studies. They are: cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, and saffron.


A study conducted back in 2005, researched antioxidant levels in 26 different herbs and spices. In the Lauraceae family, cinnamon was found to have the highest antioxidant rate. The most positive elements in cinnamon have anti-inflammatory effects.

Inflammation has shown to accelerate the decline of brain function. If cinnamon can decrease the inflammation, then it’s possible that using the spice medicinally may decelerate the progression of neurodegenerative diseases.

With a condition like dementia, the brain cells are negatively affected by oxidative stress; they become damaged, mutated, and no longer allow the brain to work at its healthiest capacity. It’s also been discovered that cinnamon activates proteins that actually protect healthy brain cells from becoming mutated or being destroyed.

Studies show that cinnamon boosts cognitive function.


Turmeric is a spice that’s harvested and is health-rich in its root. It’s long been used in Ayurvedic medicine, whose origin is at least 5,000 years old. It’s also known as Curcumin.

Two of turmeric’s greatest healing strengths are inflammation reduction and cholesterol lowering. Researchers are exploring the use of curcumin in treatment of Alzheimer patients. Symptoms of the disease may be reduced with the introduction of turmeric. The spice is somehow able to restrict cholesterol formation, protecting the brain and its cells.

A tidbit about turmeric: In order for its positive effects to be absorbed and utilized, turmeric must be used in conjunction with fats or black pepper. If and when scientists include turmeric into a medicine for dementia patients, we surely see the inclusion of black pepper and/or fats in the mixture.


Ginger, commonly referred to as a root, actually isn’t. Ginger is a rhizome, which is an underground part of the stem. It comes from a plant called Zingiber.

This spice is in the same plant family as turmeric. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why ginger is also an excellent anti-inflammatory. For thousands of years, holistic medicine has looked to ginger to help treat dementia and common memory loss.

A paper published by Chinese scientists in 2013 revealed the promising effects of ginger on laboratory rats with Alzheimer’s. After the rats were administered with a ginger “medicine”, their behavioral dysfunction actually reversed. The other observation was that the medicine prevented Alzheimer symptoms from reoccurring with continued use.


Many know saffron as being used to brightly dye and flavor foods. It also has a distinctly pleasant aroma. And, it’s one of the most expensive spices in the world.

Saffron is, too, a powerful antioxidant. Tested in comparison to carrots and tomatoes, this spice won the race for richest antioxidant activity. A lot of research is currently being done in Iran and Spain on the medicinal value of saffron for those suffering from dementia. (Those countries produce 80% of the world’s saffron supply, so they can best afford to experiment with it.)

Like the other spices mentioned above, saffron joins them as a strong anti-inflammatory. This spice offers neuroprotective effects, which may be a formidable deterrent to the onset or progression of Alzheimer’s symptoms.

No matter which spice you choose, it appears you can’t go wrong with any of these four brain-health-protecting powerhouses. Any food that can help reduce inflammation anywhere in our body is going to be beneficial to our overall health. It’s encouraging to see how these and other spices may soon become incorporated as a valid and effective treatment for dementia-related diseases. For other health-related articles, see GetThrive.com.







How To Beat The Bloat

Whether it’s a holiday or a fun-filled, eating-spree weekend, the after affects can be uncomfortable and undesirable. Believe it or not, bloat can actually be reduced with food—just the right kind, with dashes of certain herbs and spices.

What Have I Done?

Whether it’s mom’s glazed ham, Grandma’s frosted, sugar-sprinkled cookies, or spiked egg nog, too much can leave you feeling more than full. Overindulging in food and drink leads to that bloated feeling, which is not just gas. It’s actually an inflammatory response.

So besides just feeling gnarly for a few days, inflammation can lead to bigger problems down the road. Antacids may temporarily quell the symptoms, but to really solve the holiday bloat blues, you need to look no further than your kitchen (or local market.)

Real relief lies in a few key herbs and spices that you can easily incorporate into your diet. Best of all, by using these natural anti-inflammatory supplements regularly, you’ll likely keep all sorts of issues at bay into the New Year and beyond.

Inflammation? I Thought it Was Just the Cheesecake

Nearly every recent study on most common diseases including obesity, diabetes arthritis, and even cancer, has seemingly found one common denominator—inflammation.

Inflammation is the body’s natural healing response to irritation, injury, or infection. When you sprain a muscle, or get a blister or a cut, the swelling and redness is an inflammatory response. Not all inflammation is as easily visible. Internal inflammation can be harder to detect and more problematic, thus it often goes untreated and gets worse over time.

Beat the Bloat with a Bounty of Botanicals

We’ve all been there: passed out on the sofa, belt undone, moaning and feeling like a balloon in the Macy’s Parade because we overdid it.  Fortunately, the solution to your digestion dilemma is right there where your problems started—the kitchen.

The following herbs, spices, and seasonings all fight inflammation:

  • Turmeric

  • Ginger

  • Garlic

  • Cinnamon

  • Black Pepper

  • Cayenne Pepper

  • Clove and Allspice

  • Rosemary

  • Oregano

  • Sage

  • Thyme

  • Marjoram

Integrating Anti-Inflammatory Agents Into Your Diet

It’s as easy as apple pie to work all these powerful inflammation-fighters into your daily routine. Since there are such a delectable variety of them, your taste buds won’t be bored either.  Here are some suggestions for each meal on how you can help increase your health by decreasing inflammation:


Coffee- add a sprinkle of cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, or even clove.

Eggs- add in some black pepper, garlic, or any of the herbs. Adding turmeric will not affect the taste or color, so it’s easy to sneak in.

Yogurt is a great canvas for cinnamon, ginger, and other spices.

Hot and cold cereals are naturals for cinnamon and allspice.

And don’t be afraid to experiment tossing in herbs and spices into your smoothies. Just a dash goes a long way.


Add herbs and dash of pepper, garlic, turmeric and cayenne to tuna or egg salads.

Garlic and herb aioli, or plain mayo mixed with herbs makes a great spread.

Salad dressings are a great venue to host good herbs and spices. Also, Apple Cider Vinegar is a robust anti-inflammatory. You can use a teaspoon in any dressing.


Pasta and pizza sauces are ideal for incorporating lots of garlic and herbs.

Many of the herbs and spices play well with chicken, pork, and seafood.

Rice and ancient grains pair well with turmeric, garlic, and herbs.

Vegetables and meats served in a yellow curry are loaded with turmeric.

Have fun experimenting! No need to run away from food to relieve your bloat. Just add proper ingredients to fresh foods, and drink lots of water. Happy New Year! If you’re interested in other health and food tips, click here!