The festive season is approaching! And with it comes the prospect of tasty spiced drinks (like our Christmas Spice tea and delicious mulled wine), spiced fruit cake, gingerbread, the list goes on! Warming spices are the stars of festive recipes, and for good reason: they also bring with them a range of medicinal properties!
In this blog we will be looking at:
- The benefits of three classic festive spices: cinnamon, cardamom, and clove. You will never look at your Christmas recipes the same!
- Some of our festive products featuring these healing spices
Cinnamon balances blood sugar levels, fights infections, stimulates circulation and supports digestion
Made from the inner bark of a small tree native to South India and Sri Lanka, cinnamon is among the oldest-known aromatic spices, whose beauty and power have been enjoyed by many cultures throughout millenaries. And nothing says Christmas like the warming, sweet, pungent, aromatic and woody taste of cinnamon!
Cinnamon aids digestion and protects the gut from irritation, infection and inflammation. It relieves nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps, and it also stimulates appetite. The spice also has potent antibacterial and antifungal properties. Clinical trials have shown cinnamon to be effective against oral thrush, and it can help address infections across the gastro-intestinal tract.
Cinnamon also helps balance blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity – which can be particularly helpful throughout the festive period! With the growing incidence of type-2 diabetes around the world, it is very interesting to note that research has shown cinnamon to reduce glucose absorption by inhibiting pancreatic secretions, and that it can stimulate glucose uptake into cells by promoting insulin release and activity.
Cinnamon also has many benefits for circulation and cardiovascular health. Recent research confirms that it helps reduce blood pressure and increase peripheral blood flow.
Why not try some cinnamon sugar at home? Simply put 3 tablespoons of your unrefined sugar of choice and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon into a jar, seal it and shake it well – and you’ll have a delicious, versatile and healthier sweetener for any recipe.
Cardamom offers digestive, oral and respiratory support
The green seed pods of cardamom have been known for millennia for their culinary and medicinal properties. Cardamom is used medicinally as an aromatic tonic for the digestive system. It eases bloating, flatulence, acidity, nausea, spasms and distension. Warming and invigorating, it also stimulates appetite and promotes a healthy gut flora. It can be indicated to ease gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome or dysbiosis.
Cardamom is also a helpful breath freshener, and it supports oral health more generally – it has antibacterial actions against some oral pathogens and cavity-forming bacteria. Try chewing on a single cardamom clove and you will immediately feel that sensation of freshness!
The spice also has a series of actions which can be helpful for respiratory conditions: as an anti-allergenic, an expectorant (meaning that it helps loosen and expel excess mucus) and a muscle relaxant, it can be particularly useful for asthma.
Cardamom can also help to relieve tension and anxiety, lethargy and nervous exhaustion. It uplifts the mood and favors alertness and concentration.
Cloves have potent pain-killing and antiseptic effects that are great for toothache and cavities
The unopened, dried flower buds of the clove tree offer another familiar Christmas sight and fragrance. They have long been prized for both their flavor and their medicinal benefits. They were first mentioned in ancient Chinese texts: legend has it that visitors to the Chinese court were asked to chew cloves to avoid offending the Emperor with their bad breath!
Cloves are very rich in volatile oils, and particularly eugenol, which is largely responsible for its local anesthetic and antiseptic properties – which have long been used in dentistry. Cloves and/or their essential oil can be used (diluted!) as a mouthwash to relieve gum disease and toothache.
Cloves have also been traditionally used to calm digestive problems — particularly spasm and cramps. Cloves stimulate digestive secretions and help relieve bloating.
Like cinnamon, cloves can help to increase insulin activity and lower blood sugar levels.
Cloves have strong antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. They boost the immune system and have proved effective in treatments against pathogens like Helicobacter pylori (linked to the formation of stomach ulcers and, possibly, gastric cancer), Salmonella typhi and E. coli, and as they may inhibit the growth of viruses like Herpes simplex or hepatitis C.
Cloves are also a great natural insect repellent and can be found in a number of bio-pesticides.
If you have a toothache or if you would simply like to freshen your breath, we invite you to try chewing on one or two cloves – it is a very direct way to experience the potency of this modest spice!
Zen Maitri’s Festive Line: Holiday Cheer in a Herbal Tea, an Essential Oil Blend, a Mulled Wine Spice Mix and a Candle
Our Festive line features a wonderful Christmas Spice Tea containing two of the spices above and more: cinnamon, cloves, star anise, rosehip, elderberry and hibiscus. Rosehip and elderberry are rich in vitamin C and are great to boost your immunity in the winter season. Hibiscus has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective properties. Like the other spices we’ve looked at, star anise also supports digestion and immunity. This blend is rich, warming, spiced and tangy, and it smells and tastes unmistakably festive. Combining many of the comforting tastes of Christmas, this delicious tea is sure to bring cheer and warmth to your heart.
We also have a Christmas Spice Essential Oil Blend: a small 10ml bottle of festive aromatherapy combining many of the cosy scents of Christmas in a bottle (cinnamon, ginger, clove, frankincense, mandarin and sweet orange). Diffused into your home, this blend will lift your spirits and spread holiday joy and warmth, while cleansing the air and helping ward off any winter colds and flus.
Explore our festive health products
Looking for gift inspiration this Christmas? We've got a range of festive natural products and gift hampers to choose from in our Christmas collection.