Unlocking the medicinal properties of Indian spices

Unlocking the medicinal properties of Indian spices
Courtesy: enviromantic | E+ Via Getty Images

Spices have long dominated our South Asian kitchens and cuisines. Adding more to the culinary component, Professor Ish Sharma, Ayurveda Chair at the University of Mauritius explains, “spices have got a lot more to deliver than just aroma”. He adds that the Sustainable Development Goal 3 by the United Nations focuses on healthcare delivery. “The ancient healthcare system of ayurveda and spices have got a big role to play.”

In an enriching educative talk at the Nehru Centre in London recently, Sharma traces the medicinal values that some of the popularly consumed spices hold. Spices are generally known to stimulate metabolism and are scientifically proven to unclog capillaries, prevent inclusion bodies and toxins in cells.

While highlighting the benefits of curcuma, ginger, ajwain, cinnamon, black pepper and asafoetida, Ish goes through some valuable ayurveda dietetics. Particularly pointing out to two meals a day plan and the negative effects of overeating.

“You become what you eat.”

Snapshot of the medicinal properties of some Indian spices:


Said to be the most important spice, with 3% curcumin and 34 essential oils, Curcuma holds benefits against diabetes, inflammations, immunosuppression, skin diseases, arthritis, cancers and peptic ulcers. Ish explicitly says that “a whole curcuma is more effective than the extract.”


Unlocking the medicinal properties of Indian spices
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Ginger acts as a very good bio enhancer with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial properties, neuro-heart-lung-intestine protector, anti-obesity, antidiabetic and antinausea capabilities. The professor recommends, “to judiciously consume ginger in culinary preparations and teas.”

Ajwain/ Carom

Studies have proved Carom’s efficacy to control arthritis, allergy, cough, diarrhoea, indigestion, infections, hypertension, cholesterol, spasms, kidney stones, epilepsy, liver diseases and many more such health conditions. “It is a strong emergency painkiller as well.”


“Diabetes and cholesterol, inflammation, infections, Parkinsonism, cancers and dental conditions like plaque formations, cavities and gingivitis can be controlled with regular use of cinnamon.”


Unlocking the medicinal properties of Indian spices
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Black pepper

Believed to be the king of spices, black pepper is one of the best bioavailability enhancers. It contains minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, vitamin C and is proven to be an antioxidant, antidepressant, antidiabetic, antimicrobial and gastroprotective.


“Efficient as a digestive, relaxant, neuroprotective, memory enhancer, hypotensive, hepatoprotective and works against obesity.”

On an end note, Sharma underlines: “The most important dietary correction we can make is to practice intermittent fasting, stop overeating and control excess consumption of sugar, salt and fats.

“Being timely with your food habits can help get your acid reflux synchronised.”

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