Food is the life force of all leaving beings that’s why all are making efforts to get the food. Complexion, cheerfulness, melodious voice, contentment, strength and intellect are dependant on food. Vedic activities for self-realization depend on food.
Food is Super Medicine
Honey, Ghee and sesame oil are the three super medicines for Kapha, Pitta and Vata. Ayurveda is probably the only healing system which is using food as medicine. Proper use of food can cure various diseases as they have an effect on Dosha, Dhatu, Mala, Agni, Ojas, organs and various channels also.
Types of Spices
- Dried fruits or seeds, such as fennel, mustard, and black pepper.
- Barks such as cinnamon and cassia
- Dried buds such as cloves
- Stamens such as saffron
- Roots and rhizomes such as turmeric, ginger
- Resins such as asafetida
Benefits of Asafetida – Ferula foetida
It is the resinous substance obtained by incisions on the living roots of the plant. Should be roasted in cows ghee for purification.
For dental caries, put the powder with clove bud in the cavity.
It has a strong smell and is used for increasing digestive power, being carminative removes gases and colicky pain in the intestine.
It is a very good remedy for treating intestinal worms in children. Give them a pinch of roasted asafetida in a glass of warm water. In adults ‘Hingastaka churna’ should be given in a dose of 1 tsp twice a day.
Black Pepper – Piper Nigrum
It is of the constituent of Trikatu, available in green, red, pink varieties. It is spicy, dry and has hot potency. A pinch of powder of the fruit with honey is a good remedy for the common cold.
Being pungent and hot, it is good for increasing digestive power, also useful for diseases of Kapha like cough, cold, influenza and asthma.
Also useful as Rasayana for Kapha diseases. This should be given as Vardhamana Rasayana or unit increase and unit decrease method.
Similar to cilantro, coriander is used as fresh or seed powder. It is a mild spice and can be used in Pitta conditions. Eyewash with coriander and turmeric powder cures conjunctivitis.
Cumin – Cuminum cyminum
These seeds have a good aroma. It is warm, slightly bitter, pungent and has an aromatic oil.
It is commonly used in curry to increase the taste and aroma. It contains high amounts of calcium, vitamin A and is good for the heart.
Fennel – (Foeniculum vulgare)
Used as seeds or powder. Increases Agni and dispels gas in the intestine.
Fenugreek (Methi) – Trigonella foenum graecum
Seeds and leafy vegetables are useful. Methi is one such seed. It has a bitter taste and hot potency. Seeds are rich in vitamins, minerals, calcium and iron. Methi seeds are useful for increasing breast milk.
Mix powder of Methi seeds in yoghurt and apply on the head for removing dandruff. It is a good Rasayana for hair.
Research shows that it is good for reducing blood sugar in diabetes. It also reduces cholesterol. For diabetes take 30 ml juice of fresh Methi leaves in the morning or 30 ml cold infusion of seeds with honey 3 times daily.
Paste prepared from fenugreek and mustard oil is very effective as topical application for localized edema and pain.
Garlic – Allium sativum
It has five tastes excluding sour and hot potency. It is Tamasik in nature. It has a strong sulfur smell due to allicin. It has Anti-bacterial, anti-rheumatic, expectorant and disinfectant actions.
Prevents heart disease, atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and cancer. For Vata, it is best rejuvenating and Rasayana. It is useful in nervous disorders.
Take 4 cloves of garlic + 5 seeds of Vidang (Embelica ribes) + equal quantity of milk and water, boil till water evaporates. Filter and consume it warm.
Ginger – Vishvabheshaja
Medicine for the whole world. When dry, it is called as shunthi. It has a pungent and hot nature. It increases Agni and eliminates Ama (toxins). Good for cough, cold and indigestion.
Good tonic after delivery in women. In edema give ginger + dry jaggery.
Nutmeg – Myrestica fragrans
It is pungent and astringent with hot potency. External application is useful in dry acne and to reduce edema of joints. It has good aphrodisiac action, when given with milk and sugar or honey.
For insomnia give ¼ tsp powder with buffalo milk at night. For diarrhea, use 500 mg of powdered nutmeg 500 mg with 5ml of onion juice and coconut water. One can have that with cup of black filter coffee.
For excessive salivation and halitosis, use 500 mg powder of nutmeg with honey and apply it in the mouth.
For indigestion, nausea and vomiting, use powder of nutmeg with lime juice or buttermilk and sugar.
Turmeric – Curcuma longa
It is bitter and pungent in taste and potency. It is useful in treating fresh wounds, as it has styptic antibacterial and healing action. When consumed, it increases digestive fire and improves poor circulation.
It is good for diabetes, chest congestion and various skin conditions. For chronic cough give ¼ tbs of turmeric, 2 cloves of garlic after boiling and reducing it to half. For increasing skin complexion, take one cup of warm milk daily with ½ tbs of turmeric and apply an external mixture of turmeric and sandalwood powder in milk or coconut water.
Turmeric is bitter, astringent, hot and pungent after digestion. It is used externally and internally to purify both blood and mind. Turmeric has many useful therapeutic qualities, including, anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and insect repellent effects.
For obesity, consume 2 gms of turmeric and ginger with 1 tbs of honey with warm water daily.
It is very useful in cancer as it is rich in nitric oxide which increases the anti-cancer properties. It also restrains the growth of leukaemia in the stages of initiation, promotion, and progression. It inhibits precancerous colon growth, suppresses colon cancer, oral tumours, multiple lines of breast cancer, and inhibits skin cancer growth when applied topically.
In general, it enhances metabolism and helps the body to reduce undesirable fatty deposits, and protect against heart disease by reducing inflammatory causing bacteria in the blood circulation. Turmeric also has antiseptic action and helps to slow bleeding when applied topically to wounds. Turmeric paste is used in bruises, bites, stings, open wounds, boils and breast disorders.
All spices are good for teeth and bones as they contain calcium and Phosphorus. Also beneficial for contraction of muscles and for neurons. Iron contains in turmeric, asafoetida, cumin and the outer covering of nutmeg is good for increasing hemoglobin. An excess amount of vitamin A acts as an antioxidant and is good for preventing cancer of the mouth, stomach and large intestine and skin.
Cumin, cardamom, coriander and coriander seeds contain lots of colin (Amino acid) which is useful for the prevention of Alzheimer’s as it enters into neurons.
Some spices contain minerals like zinc, manganese, magnesium which are useful for stimulation of digestive enzymes. Being natural they get absorbed properly in the intestine.
By Dr. Sunanda Ranade.
International Academy of Ayurved, Pune