- Updated on July 31, 2019
By Dr. Artour Rakhimov, Alternative Health Educator and Author
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 the 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 common spices on the 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 the 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||Reference|
|Chinese cassia, cinnamon, clove and thyme||Aflatoxin||El-Maraghy, 1995|
|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|
|Licorice||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)||Aspergillus parasiticus||Ozcan, 2005|
|Mexican oregano||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|
|Vanillin||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, produce 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 the high antioxidant capacity and contained high levels of phenolics (Shan et al, 2005).
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 the 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
An additional evidence relates to stimulating abilities of herbs on the 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
Arora DS & Kaur J, Antimicrobial activity of spices, Int J Antimicrob Agents. 1999 Aug; 12(3): 257-262.
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. 2003 Nov-Dec; 17(6): 541-544.
Billing J & Sherman PW. Antimicrobial functions of spices: why some like it hot, Q Rev Biol. 1998 Mar; 73(1): 3-49.
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 8; 54(5): 1822-1828.
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; 53(5): 435-439.
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 spoilage microorganisms, J Food Prot. 2003 Jul; 66(7): 1288-1291.
De M, Krishna De A, Banerjee AB, Antimicrobial screening of some Indian spices, Phytother Res. 1999 Nov; 13(7): 616-618.
El-Maraghy SS, Effect of some spices as preservatives for storage of lentil (Lens esculenta L.) seeds, Folia Microbiol (Praha). 1995; 40(5): 490-492.
Fabio A, Corona A, Forte E, Quaglio P, Inhibitory activity of spices and essential oils on psychrotrophic bacteria, New Microbiol. 2003 Jan; 26(1): 115-120.
Fuhrman J, Fasting and Eating for Health (A Medical Doctor’s Program for Conquering Disease), St.Martin’s Press, New York, 1995.
Hara-Kudo Y, Kobayashi A, Sugita-Konishi Y, Kondo K, Antibacterial activity of plants used in cooking for aroma and taste, J Food Prot. 2004 Dec; 67(12): 2820-2824.
Khan A, Bryden NA, Polansky MM, Anderson RA, Insulin potentiating factor and chromium content of selected foods and spices, Biol Trace Elem Res. 1990 Mar; 24(3): 183-188.
Lampe JW, Spicing up a vegetarian diet: chemopreventive effects of phytochemicals, Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Sep; 78(3 Suppl): 579S-583S.
Martinez-Tomi M, Jiminez AM, Ruggieri S, Frega N, Strabbioli R, Murcia MA, Antioxidant properties of Mediterranean spices compared with common food additives, J Food Prot. 2001 Sep; 64(9): 1412-1419.
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 essential oils against pathogenic and spoilage bacteria, J Food Prot. 2004 Jan; 67(1): 199-202.
Ngarmsak M, Delaquis P, Toivonen P, Ngarmsak T, Ooraikul B, Mazza G, Antimicrobial activity of vanillin against spoilage microorganisms in stored fresh-cut mangoes, J Food Prot. 2006 Jul; 69(7): 1724-1727.
Nielsen PV & Rios R, 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, Int J Food Microbiol. 2000 Sep 25; 60(2-3): 219-229.
O’Mahony R, Al-Khtheeri H, Weerasekera D, Fernando N, Vaira D, Holton J, Basset C, Bactericidal and anti- adhesive properties of culinary and medicinal plants against Helicobacter pylori, World J Gastroenterol. 2005 Dec 21; 11(47): 7499-7507.
Ozcan M, Effect of spice hydrosols on the growth of Aspergillus parasiticus NRRL 2999 strain, J Med Food. 2005 Summer; 8(2): 275-278.
Ozcan MM, Sağdii O, Ozkan G, Inhibitory effects of spice essential oils on the growth of Bacillus species, J Med Food. 2006 Fall; 9(3): 418-421.
Platel K, Rao A, Saraswathi G, Srinivasan K, Digestive stimulant action of three Indian spice mixes in experimental rats, Nahrung. 2002 Dec; 46(6): 394-398.
Portillo-Ruiz MC, Viramontes-Ramos S, Muioz-Castellanos LN, Gastilum-Franco MG, Nevirez-Moorillin GV, Antifungal activity of Mexican oregano (Lippia berlandieri Shauer), J Food Prot. 2005 Dec; 68(12): 2713-2717.
Prasad NS, Raghavendra R, Lokesh BR, Naidu KA, Spice phenolics inhibit human PMNL 5-lipoxygenase, Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2004 Jun; 70(6): 521-528.
Shan B, Cai YZ, Sun M, Corke H, Antioxidant capacity of 26 spice extracts and characterization of their phenolic constituents, J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Oct 5; 53(20): 7749-7759.
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, Sullivan DR, Fenech M, Roodenrys S, Keogh JB, Clifton PM, Williams PG, Fazio VA, Inge KE, Health benefits of herbs and spices: the past, the present, the future, Med J Aust. 2006 Aug 21; 185 (4 Suppl): S4-24.
Tsukiyama R, Katsura H, Tokuriki N, Kobayashi M, Antibacterial activity of licochalcone A against spore-forming bacteria, Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2002 May; 46(5): 1226-1230.
Valero M & Salmerin MC, Antibacterial activity of 11 essential oils against Bacillus cereus in tyndallized carrot broth, Int J Food Microbiol. 2003 Aug 15; 85(1-2): 73-81.
Vasudevan K, Vembar S, Veeraraghavan K, Haranath PS, Influence of intragastric perfusion of aqueous spice extracts on acid secretion in anesthetized albino rats, Indian J Gastroenterol. 2000 Apr-Jun; 19(2): 53-56.
Yano Y, Satomi M, Oikawa H, Antimicrobial effect of spices and herbs on Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Int J Food Microbiol. 2006 Aug 15; 111(1): 6-11.
Yin MC & Cheng WS, Inhibition of Aspergillus niger and Aspergillus flavus by some herbs and spices, J Food Prot. 1998 Jan; 61(1): 123-125.