Benefits of Spices: Better Health and Body Oxygen Levels
Using of large amounts of spices is one of the significant features
in the diet suggested and used by Doctor Buteyko and his colleagues, breathing practitioners starting from 1960s and 1970s. What are the reasons? Spices, used for
millennia to preserve and enhance the taste and flavour of foods, have numerous beneficial properties, according to
recent scientific evidence. Thus, Dr. Buteyko was decades ahead claiming positive effects of commoon spices on physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of humans. Let us look at different effects in this area.
Scientists from Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) investigated and
confirmed, according to the title of their paper "Antimicrobial functions of spices: why some like it hot"
published in Quarterly Review in Biology. Specifically, they concluded that spice plant secondary compounds
are powerful antimicrobial (i.e., antibacterial and antifungal) agents
(Billing & Sherman, 1998).
Lampe from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle
wrote,"In humans, spices produce numerous positive effects, including
reduction of inflammation, stimulation
of the immune system, antioxidant effects, modulation of detoxification enzymes, together with antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial effects (Lampe, 2003).
Indian microbiologists Arora and Kaur from Guru Nanak Dev University
in Amritsar studied Antimicrobial activity of spices (Arora & Kaur,
1999). They found that "Some bacteria showing resistance to certain
antibiotics were sensitive to extracts of both garlic and clove. Greater
anti-candidal activity was shown by garlic than by nystatin.
Spices might have a great potential to be used as antimicrobial
agents" (Arora & Kaur, 1999).
Numerous publications, according to their titles, revealed various
specific effects of spices. Turkish scientists published an article
"Inhibitory effects of spice essential oils on the growth of Bacillus
species". They studied such popular spices as black thyme, fennel
(sweet), laurel, marjoram, mint, oregano, pickling herb, sage, savory,
and thyme and found that all of these mentioned essential oils showed antibacterial activity against various Bacillus species (Ozcan et al, 2006).
Danish biotechnologists from the Technical University of Denmark
published a study Inhibition of fungal growth on bread by volatile
components from spices and herbs, and the possible application in
active packaging, with special emphasis on mustard essential oil
(Nielsen & Rios, 2000).
A large group of Mexican scientists published a study Antifungal
activity of Mexican oregano (Lippia berlandieri Shauer (Portillo-Ruiz
et al, 2005).
Several food and environmental hygienists from the University of
Helsinki examined Antibacterial efficiency of Finnish spice essential oils against pathogenic and spoilage
bacteria. They found that "Oregano, savory, and thyme showed the
broadest antibacterial activity by distinctly inhibiting the growth of
all the organisms tested" (Nevas et al, 2004).
Japanese health professionals from the National Research Institute
of Fisheries Science in Yokohama studied Antimicrobial effect of spices
and herbs on Vibrio parahaemolyticus (a foodborne pathogen). They found
that "Basil, clove, garlic, horseradish, marjoram, oregano, rosemary,
and thyme exhibited antibacterial activities at incubation of 30 degrees C" (Yano et al, 2006).
There are many other studies of the similar nature. Their results,
as well as the findings from the just mentioned references, are
summarized in the following table.
|Spices and their extracts used
|| Pathogens or toxins inhibited
|Chinese cassia, cinnamon, clove and thyme
|Garlic bulbs, green garlic, green onions, hot peppers, ginger, Chinese parsley, and basil
||Aspergillus niger and Aspergillus flavus (fungi)
||Yin & Cheng, 1998
|35 different Indian spices including clove, cinnamon, bishop's weed, chili, horse radish, cumin, tamarind, black cumin, pomegranate seeds, nutmeg, garlic, onion, tejpat, celery, cambodge
||Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae
||De M Krishna et al, 1999
|Essential oils of oregano (Origanum vulgare), mint (Menta arvensis), basil (Ocimum basilicum), sage (Salvia officinalis) and coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
||Aspergillus ochraceus and ochratoxin A production
||Basilico & Basilico, 1999
|Mustard, cinnamon, garlic, oregano and clove
||Penicillium commune, P. roqueforti, Aspergillus flavus and Endomyces fibuliger (most important spoilage fungi of bread)
||Nielsen & Rios, 2000
|Cloves, thyme, oregano, rosemary and basil
||Shigella sonnei and Shigella flexneri (vegetable pathogens)
||Bagamboula et al, 2001
||Bacillus subtilis, all gram-positive bacteria tested
||Tsukiyama et al, 2002
|Methanol extracts of Myristica fragrans (aril); extracts from Barringtonia acutangula (leaf) and Kaempferia galanga (rhizome); Cassia grandis (leaf), Cleome viscosa (leaf), Myristica fragrans (leaf), Syzygium aromaticum (leaf) Pouzolzia pentandra (leaf), Cycas siamensis (leaf), Litsea elliptica (leaf) and Melaleuca quinquenervia (leaf)
||18 strains of Helicobacter pylori (the primary etiological agent responsible for the development of gastritis, dyspepsia, peptic ulcer disease and gastric cancer)
||Bhamarapravati et al, 2003
|Chili, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme
||Aeromonas hydrophila, Listeria monocytogenes and Yersinia enterocolitica (foodborne pathogens)
||Fabio et al, 2003
|Juniperus essential oils from different species of Juniperus
||Aspergillus flavus (fungi, an aflatoxin B1 producer)
||Cosentino et al, 2003
|Nutmeg, mint, clove, oregano, cinnamon, sassafras, sage, thyme, rosemary
||Bacillus cereus (vegetable pathogen)
||Valero & Salmerin, 2003
|Oregano, savory, and thyme
||12 bacterial strains, including spoilage and pathogenic bacteria (Clostridium botulinum and Clostridium perfringens)
||Nevas et al, 2004
|Leaf extracts from Japanese persimmon, white cedar, and grape
||Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli and Salmonella Enteritidis(foodborne pathogens)
||Hara-Kudo et al, 2004
|Turmeric, cumin, ginger, chilli, borage, black caraway, oregano and liquorice, Columbo weed, long pepper, parsley, tarragon, nutmeg, yellow-berried nightshade, threadstem carpetweed, sage and cinnamon
||4 strains of Helicobacter pylori (the primary etiological agent responsible for the development of gastritis, dyspepsia, peptic ulcer disease and gastric cancer)
||O'Mahony et al, 2005
|Anise, basil, cumin, dill, Aegean sage, fennel (sweet), laurel, mint, oregano, pickling herb, rosemary, sage, savory, sea fennel, sumac, and thyme (black)
||Twenty-one fungal strains, which included Penicillium, Geotrichum, Aspergillus, and Bipolaris
||Portillo-Ruiz et al, 2005
|Essential oils of Ocimum basilicum L., Origanum vulgare L., and Thymus vulgaris L
||13 bacterial strains and 6 fungi, including multiresistant strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli
||Bozin et al, 2006
|Black thyme, cumin, fennel (sweet), laurel, marjoram, mint, oregano, pickling herb, sage, savory, and thyme
||Bacillus brevis, B. cereus, B. amyloliquefaciens, B. megaterium, B. subtilis, and B. subtilis var (all are foodborne pathogens)
||Ozcan et al, 2006
|Basil, clove, garlic, horseradish, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, thyme and turmeric
||Vibrio parahaemolyticus(foodborne pathogen)
||Yano et al, 2006
|Cinnamon, bearberry, chamomile, sage, rosemary, …
||Arcobacter butzleri, Arcobacter cryaerophilus, and Arcobacter skirrowii
||Cervenka et al, 2006
||4 bacteria (Pantoea agglomerans, Aeromonas enteropelogenes, Micrococcus lylae, and Sphingobacterium spiritovorun), 4 fungi (Alternaria sp., Aspergillus sp., Penicillium sp., and Fusarium sp.), and 3 yeasts
||Ngarmsak et al, 2006
|Cinnamon and clove oils
||4 fungi (Aspergillus flavus, Penicillium roqueforti, Mucor plumbeus and Eurotium sp.), 4 yeasts (Debaryomyces hansenii, Pichia membranaefaciens, Zygosaccharomyces rouxii and Candida lipolytica), and 2 bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus and Pediococcus halophilus)
||Matan et al, 2006
Many spices, as these and other studies revealed, retain their
properties at low temperatures and after heating or boiling.
The GI tract of the human being harbours billions of bacteria, fungi
and other organisms. When we are healthy, these bacteria, for example, produces vitamins, generate
energy, help to bind toxins with the fibre.
Spices also have antioxidant properties and are able, for example,
to prevent oxidation of oils: "The results indicate that rosemary and oregano are more effective HOCl
scavengers than the other substances analyzed, which, in decreasing
order, were propyl gallate, annatto, sweet and hot paprika, saffron,
and cumin" (Martínez-Tomé et al, 2001).
Indian biochemists from the Central Food Technological Research
Institute in Mysore wrote, "The antioxidant activity of these dietary spices suggest
that in addition to imparting flavor to the food, they possess
potential health benefits by inhibiting the lipid peroxidation"
(Shobana & Naidu, 2000).
Two years later the scientists from the same institute published a
study about the effects of curcumin, capsaicin, quercetin, piperine, eugenol and allyl sulfide "on copper
ion-induced lipid peroxidation of human low density lipoprotein (LDL)
by measuring the formation of thiobarbituric acid reactive substance
(TBARS) and relative electrophoretic mobility (REM) of LDL on agarose
gel" (Naidu & Thippeswamy, 2002). All spices "inhibited the
formation of TBARS effectively through out the incubation period of 12
h and decreased the REM of LDL" (Naidu & Thippeswamy, 2002).
Antioxidant properties of spices were the focus of research for a
group of biologists from the University of Hong Kong. Their study
"Antioxidant capacity of 26 spice extracts and characterization of their
phenolic constituents" was published in the Journal of
Agriculture and Food Chemistry (Shan et al, 2005). These biologists
observed that 26 common spices demonstrated high antioxidant capacity and contained high levels of phenolics (Shan et al,
All these findings suggest mild dietary beneficial effects of common spices on breathing and body oxygen levels
Synergetic effects of spices
Two of the above-mentioned studies (Shobana & Naidu, 2000; Shan
et al, 2005) emphasized the synergetic effects, when even weak inhibitory effects of separate spices are
greatly amplified, if the same spices are used together. For example,
Shobana and Naidu claim, that "Spice mix namely ginger, onion and
garlic; onion and ginger; ginger and garlic showed cumulative inhibition of lipid peroxidation thus
exhibiting their synergistic antioxidant activity" (Shobana & Naidu, 2000).
Diabetes, heart disease, cancer and GI problems
Spices can have effects on particular health conditions. In 2005, the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition published a study "Plant foods in the management of diabetes mellitus: spices as beneficial antidiabetic food adjuncts" conducted at the Central Food Technological Research
Institute in Mysore, India (Srinivasan, 2005).
American study at the US Department of Agriculture, Beltsville Human
Nutrition Research Center, MD revealed that "Among the spices, apple pie spice, cinnamon, cloves,
bay leaves, and turmeric potentiated insulin activity more than
three-fold" (Khan et al, 1990).
Australian scientists from the National Centre of Excellence in
Functional Foods, University of Wollongong reviewed available research
in the paper "Health benefits of herbs and spices: the past, the
present, the future". Among the findings are:
- the antioxidant properties of herbs and spices in the development of atherosclerosis
- use of garlic for cholesterol-lowering effect
- blood pressure reduction and anticlotting effects
- effects of bioactive compounds in herbs and spices on cancer
- effects of herbs and spices on type 2 diabetes mellitus
- use of food extracts as alternatives to non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory agents in the management of chronic inflammation (Tapsell et al,2006).
The Table above includes 2 studies on Helicobacter pylori (HP), a
bacterium and well recognized primary etiological agent responsible for
the development of gastritis, dyspepsia, peptic ulcer disease and
gastric cancer. Among the useful spices are turmeric, cumin, ginger,
chilli, borage, black caraway, oregano and liquorice, Columbo weed,
long pepper, parsley, tarragon, nutmeg, yellow-berried nightshade,
threadstem carpetweed, sage and cinnamon, as well as methanol extracts
of Myristica fragrans (aril); extracts from Barringtonia acutangula
(leaf) and Kaempferia galanga (rhizome); Cassia grandis (leaf), Cleome
viscosa (leaf), Myristica fragrans (leaf), Syzygium aromaticum (leaf)
Pouzolzia pentandra (leaf), Cycas siamensis (leaf), Litsea elliptica
(leaf) and Melaleuca quinquenervia (leaf).
Secretion of stomach acid, bile and GI enzymes
Additional evidence relates to stimulating abilities of herbs on
secretion of stomach acid, bile and various digestive enzymes.
Indian medical professionals from the Rajah Muthiah Medical College
in Annamalainagar studied the effect of spices on gastric acid secretion. They found that "All the spices
tested increased acid secretion in the following declining order: red
pepper, fennel, omum, cardamom, black pepper, cumin, coriander" (Vasudevan et al, 2000).
Faster digestion means more time for breathwork and exercise
Therefore, use of spices can be very beneficial for students with
pancreatic insufficiency and other disorders related to poor digestive
abilities. Moreover, anybody who has abnormal gut flora will be able to
better digest meals providing less chance for pathogens to multiply and while improving time required for digestion thus increasing average daily carbon dioxide levels and the body oxygen (CP) results.
References for spices
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activity of spices, Int J Antimicrob Agents. 1999 Aug;
Bagamboula CF, Uyttendaele M, Debevere J, Inhibitory
effects of spices and herbs towards Shigella sonnei and S. flexneri, Meded
Rijksuniv Gent Fak Landbouwkd Toegep Biol Wet. 2001; 66(3b): 523-530.
Basilico MZ & Basilico JC, Inhibitory
effects of some spice essential oils on Aspergillus ochraceus NRRL 3174
growth and ochratoxin A production, Lett Appl Microbiol 1999
Oct; 29(4): 238-241.
Bhamarapravati S, Pendland SL, Mahady GB, Extracts
of spice and food plants from Thai traditional medicine inhibit the
growth of the human carcinogen Helicobacter pylori, In Vivo.
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Billing J & Sherman PW. Antimicrobial
functions of spices: why some like it hot, Q Rev Biol. 1998
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Bozin B, Mimica-Dukic N, Simin N, Anackov G, Characterization
of the volatile composition of essential oils of some lamiaceae spices and the antimicrobial and
antioxidant activities of the entire oils, J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Mar
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Cervenka L, Peskova I, Foltynova E,
Pejchalova M, Brozkova I, Vytrasova J, Inhibitory effects of
some spice and herb extracts against Arcobacter butzleri, A.
cryaerophilus, and A. skirrowii, Curr Microbiol. 2006 Nov;
Cosentino S, Barra A, Pisano B, Cabizza M,
Pirisi FM, Palmas F, Composition and antimicrobial properties
of Sardinian Juniperus essential oils against foodborne pathogens and
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screening of some Indian spices, Phytother Res. 1999 Nov;
El-Maraghy SS, Effect of some
spices as preservatives for storage of lentil (Lens esculenta L.)
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Khan A, Bryden NA, Polansky MM, Anderson RA,
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Martinez-Tomi M, Jiminez AM, Ruggieri S,
Frega N, Strabbioli R, Murcia MA, Antioxidant properties of
Mediterranean spices compared with common food additives, J
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Naidu KA & Thippeswamy NB, Inhibition
of human low density lipoprotein oxidation by active principles from
spices, Mol Cell Biochem. 2002 Jan; 229(1-2): 19-23.
Nevas M, Korhonen AR, Lindstrim M, Turkki P,
Korkeala H, Antibacterial efficiency of Finnish spice
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Ngarmsak M, Delaquis P, Toivonen P, Ngarmsak
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against spoilage microorganisms in stored fresh-cut mangoes, J
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Nielsen PV & Rios R, Inhibition
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O'Mahony R, Al-Khtheeri H, Weerasekera D,
Fernando N, Vaira D, Holton J, Basset C, Bactericidal and
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Helicobacter pylori, World J Gastroenterol. 2005 Dec 21;
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Srinivasan K, Plant foods in the
management of diabetes mellitus: spices as beneficial antidiabetic food
adjuncts, Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2005 Sep; 56(6): 399-414.
Tapsell LC, Hemphill I, Cobiac L, Patch CS,
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Valero M & Salmerin MC, Antibacterial
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carrot broth, Int J Food Microbiol. 2003 Aug 15; 85(1-2):
Vasudevan K, Vembar S, Veeraraghavan K,
Haranath PS, Influence of intragastric perfusion of aqueous
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