Used in South Asian culture for centuries, turmeric has a variety of medicinal properties. Most notably, turmeric contains curcumin which is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It is as effective as anti-inflammatory medication, but without the side effects. Turmeric has also been proven to help cognitive function, lowering the risk of brain disease.
Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and whisk constantly over a gentle heat, ideally with a milk frothier if you have one. Once hot, pour into mugs and sprinkle with a little more cinnamon to serve.
With its powerful antioxidant properties, ginger is used to treat a lot of illnesses. It’s really effective in treating nausea, so is used by those that are pregnant, recovering from surgery, and chemotherapy patients. Studies have also shown that over time, ginger helps reduce muscle pain, most likely because it’s an anti-inflammatory. The variety of health benefits ginger possesses makes it one of the most beneficial foods to have in our diet.
Tip: Boil water and ginger in a saucepan to make your own warming ginger tea!
Studies show that applying it to the skin, inhaling its aroma, or taking capsules are the most effective ways to use mint. It is a strong antioxidant and contains Vitamin A which is proven to help night vision. Its also been proven to help with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and indigestion – taking peppermint oil with your meals helps you digest quicker and prevent stomach pain. Peppermint tea is widely known to promote relaxation and sleeping due to its muscle relaxing properties.
Tip everything except the yogurt into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Pour into a bowl and stir in the yogurt. Season with salt and keep in the fridge until ready to use.
Garlic boosts your immune system, so it’s ideal for coughs and colds. When crushed, garlic releases allicin, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Most notably, aged garlic has antioxidants that help protect the brain from damage and ageing. In Arab medicine, garlic is used a lot, in particular to treat high blood pressure, heart disease, and even toothache.
Tip: Make your own honey-fermented garlic by stirring honey and garlic cloves in a jar. Seal the jar for three days, release any gases and sit for a week when you see bubbles starting to form.
In Ancient Egypt, honey was used to treat skin and eye diseases and legend says that Cleopatra used to bathe in milk and honey to get supple skin. Nowadays, honey is known for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties as it naturally contains hydrogen peroxide (antiseptic). Studies have also started to show that honey has components that act as pain relief. Raw and Manuka honey are used in medicine as most store-bought honey is pasteurised, which kills the nutrients that are beneficial to health.
Tip: Try warm lemon and honey tea to soothe a sore throat!
Capsaicin isn’t only responsible for cayenne pepper’s spiciness, but also its medicinal properties. Capsaicin’s ability to produce body heat means it improves your metabolism and helps you perspire, making it useful if you have the flu. Interestingly, capsaicin is also used in skin creams as it helps soothe muscle and joint pain, post-surgery pain, and even nerve conditions like shingles.
Tip: Try making your own cayenne pepper sauce or simply sprinkle some pepper flakes on top of your dinner!
Have you ever wondered why your mouth tingles after eating pineapple? It may be because of the enzyme bromelain, which helps the body break down and digest proteins. It’s an anti-inflammatory which helps in reducing swelling and pain, especially after surgery. Bromelain also helps to dissolve mucus if you have any allergies, so much so that pineapple juice can be as effective as cough treatments.
Tip: Season your pineapple with sugar, salt, and chilli powder to give it a sweet and spicy kick!
In the cosmetic industry, tea tree oil is used to keep skin, hair, and nails healthy. But science shows that it is has a whole other variety of health benefits. Native to Australia, Aborigines have been using tea tree oil for centuries, specifically for coughs, colds, and wounds. The oil is a natural hand sanitiser, as well as an antiseptic, but the most interesting property in tea tree oil is its ability to treat acne. Studies have shown that it can be as effective as the most common anti-acne medicine, benzoyl peroxide.
Tip: Whilst it’s not suggested to digest tea tree oil, you can gargle it to help with mouth ulcers, toothache, and bad gums.
The extract taken from elderflower is used for sinusitis, colds, and allergies. It’s also a diuretic and diaphoretic, increasing urine and sweat production. This is ideal for flus and infections. It has high antioxidant content and Vitamin C, which boosts your immune system, and in turn helping fight off illness and disease.
Known as one of the healthiest drinks on the planet, green tea is full of antioxidants which help with brain function, fat loss, and oral hygiene. Green tea reduces blood sugar levels by improving insulin sensitivity, making it an ideal beverage for a Type 2 diabetic. It is most known to help with fat loss by increasing metabolism and fat burning, but this may be due to the caffeine. Some studies have even shown that drinking green tea might make you live longer!
Tip: Try your green tea iced with mint and honey for a jam-packed health kick!