Winter may feel like the perfect time to hibernate from the cold—and potentially avoid catching one! However, you don’t have to hide with the bears to ensure you stay healthy this season. Ancient Chinese cultures have been using herbs and spices for both culinary and medicinal purposes to heal a wide array of ailments. It’s easy to make your own delicious blend or experiment with individual spices to boost your immunity and longevity all season long!
This blend will boost the strength of your immune system. Dried herbs and spices contain nutrients that are concentrated, and can potentially help heal the body. Best of all, you can easily make this blend yourself! There’s no need to measure these spices/herbs exactly, but I recommend using equal amounts of each spice in dried and ground forms. You can grind up your herbs and spices with a mortar and pestle or take the quick approach by grinding in a coffee grinder (that you only use for grinding spices.) After grinding, store the blended spice powder in an airtight, glass jar in a cool place to protect the volatile oils for six months up to a year.
When you feel in need of an immune zoom, add this blend to your meals just as you are finishing cooking the dish—about 1 minute before you turn off the heat. You can add to your soups, stir-frys, fish and veggie dishes, and bean and grain dishes.
1. Star Anise
If you are a fan of licorice, then you will love the flavor of star anise. Shaped like an eight-pointed star, this medicinal herb is native to tropical and subtropical areas of China and Vietnam, and often used to flavor dishes in Chinese and Indian cuisine. Traditionally, star anise is used to treat digestive issues such as abdominal cramps, bloating, and constipation. A strong and healthy digestive system equals a healthy immune system. In fact, in its natural form, star anise is thought to help the body’s immune system fight off the flu.
Word to the Wise: Take care to get the right spice. Star anise should absolutely not be confused with the toxic Japanese star anise. Star anise is also different than regular “anise,” so do your homework.
Often used in Italian cuisine, this fragrant herb is delicious in just about any dish. As a fresh herb, basil may be mixed into your favorite raw salads or sandwiches. However, don’t neglect to incorporate dried basil into your food, as it contains a trove of nutrients and a punch of flavor. Dried basil is chockfull of the antioxidant beta-carotene, vitamin B6, magnesium, iron, calcium, and vitamin C. Basil also has potent anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which are important especially during cold and flu season. Sprinkle some dried basil into your favorite soup, stew, or casserole to give a boost to both your taste buds and immune system!
Known for its abundant use in Mediterranean cooking, oregano is featured prominently in the sauces and salads of Greek and Italian cuisines. But it’s more than just a delicious seasoning! Oregano’s health benefits include high levels of antioxidants as well as antimicrobial properties. It is traditionally used to benefit the digestive and respiratory systems, improve circulation for cold hands and feet, aid restful sleep, and to build immunity.
I hope that you will enjoy a variety of tasty, healing spices this winter season!
You can find plenty of healthy, tasty, and creative recipes for long and healthy living in Secrets of Longevity Cookbook, which just came out and is a great companion book to my Secrets of Longevity: Hundreds of Ways to Live to Be 100, now available on Kindle.
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May you live long, live strong, and live happy!
The herb blends in this article are meant to support your health, but you should not treat them as a cure-all or replacement for medication. Some herbal supplements may interact with drug medications. As your health strategies change and evolve, never stop taking prescription medications without first speaking to your physician.
This blog is meant to educate, but it should not be used as a substitute for personal medical advice. The reader should consult his or her physician or clinician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field is ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.
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