Using warming herbs and spices in the winter is a great way to warm ourselves from the inside out. You can wear big sweaters and leg warmers to keep you warm from the outside, but adding warming herbs and spices to teas, elixirs, soups, stews, or just about any meal in the colder months is one way to warm up from the inside. Here is a great list to help you warm up from the inside out with warming herbs and spices.You will also find some culinary nutrition and herbal action information as well as their scientific names and plant families:
- Black Pepper (Piper nigrum, Piperaceae) Black pepper is an excellent source of manganese and vitamin K. It also contains the phytonutrient piperine that has both antioxidant and antibiotic benefits. It is also considered a diuretic.
- Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) Cardamom has been shown to have anti-cancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial benefits. It is also considered a carminative.
- Cayenne (Capsicum annum, C. frutescens, Solanaceae) Cayenne pepper is an excellent source of vitamin E and considered a very good source for vitamin K, vitamin B6, copper and iron. Its herbal actions include: analgesic, diaphoretic, antioxidant and antimicrobial amongst others.
- Cinnamon (Cinnamon spp., Lauraceae) Cinnamon is a good source of manganese and has many health benefits including having anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It is also considered a carminative. (Helps relieve and reduce gas in the intestines.)
- Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum, Myrtaceae) Cloves are also an excellent source of manganese and a very good source of vitamin K. It is also considered a carminative and an analgesic.
- Garlic (Allium sativum, Amaryllidaceae) Garlic is a known powerhouse of nutrients. Garlic is an excellent source of vitamin B6 and manganese. It’s also a very good source for vitamin C and copper. Garlic has anti-microbial, antioxidant and anti cancer benefits from its superfood phytonutrients. Its herbal actions include: alternative, anticatarrhal, antimicrobial and more.
- Ginger (Zingiber officinale, Zingiberaceae) Gingers phytonutrients have powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. Some of gingers herbal actions include: diaphoretic, expectorant, carminative, anodyne and anti-microbial. Ginger is great for soothing nausea.
- Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana, Brassicaceae) Horseradish has many nutritional benefits including being a good source of antioxidants and a high vitamin C content. Some of its herbal actions include: diuretic and the root is an expectorant.
- Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans, Myristicaceae) Nutmeg contains vitamin A, vitamin C, Manganese, copper and zinc as well as other nutrients making it a source for many health benefits. It’s herbal actions include: carminative, aphrodisiac, hypotensive and relaxant.
- Orange Peel (Citrus x sinensis, Rutaceae) Orange peel contains folate, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and even calcium. It can be used as a carminative and expectorant.
- Oregano (Origanum vulgare, Lamiaceae) Oregano is an excellent source of vitamin K and a good source of iron and dietary fiber. Some of its herbal actions include: diaphoretic, anti-fungal, emmenagogue, vermifuge, carminative, and expectorant and more.
- Thyme (Thymus vulgaris, Lamiaceae) Thyme is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source for copper, dietary fiber, manganese and iron. Herbal actions for thyme include: anti-microbial, carminative, diaphoretic, vermifuge to name a few.
- Turmeric (Curcuma long, Zingiberaceae) Turmeric is considered an excellent source for iron and manganese as well as a good source for copper, potassium, and vitamin B6. It is a fantastic superfood with many nutritional benefits including its outstanding anti-inflammatory benefits. Its herbal actions include: analgesic, antioxidant, astringent, carminative, cholagogue and immunomodulator.
There are so many nutritional benefits when you include warming herbs and spices into your winter meal and drink rotation beyond their warming effects. You can add these to teas, elixirs, soups, stews just about anything. Play around in the kitchen to see what flavor combinations you like most, some work splendidly together while some definitely do not. Staying warm from the inside out is a key part to moving through the cold months of winter in a holistic and happier way.
*It’s important to note that you should always check with your health care provider when trying new herbs or to check for any drug contraindications or to work with a clinical herbalist who has done a complete health history.