“What is the health and medicinal value of Indian spices?”
“What is the health and medicinal value of Indian spices?”
by admin | February 14, 2023 | Aware | 2 comments

In India, from time immemorial, people have always believed that “food is the best medicine.” Primary among the food ingredients used in Indian cooking are spices.

Indian food is probably best known for the variety of spices used, even in the simplest of dishes. These spices not only serve to add unique flavors and aromas to the finest meals, but every single spice is a storehouse of medicinal value.

To follow some of the finest time-tested homely recipes, you must add all the spices the dishes call for in just the right quantities. You also get the most health benefits by using whole organic spices and grinding or processing them at home.

Home cooking in India is a fine art, and spices are the secrets of great well-being handed down through generations. Every family prides itself on its magic mixture of ingredients. Let’s discover the wonderful health benefits of some of the most popular Indian aromatic seasonings.


The long history of foreign trade in Indian spices

Every student of Indian history knows that the spice trade from India to the rest of the world flourished through the ages. When allopathy was yet to be fully evolved, spices were enormously important in Europe in the Middle Ages and Renaissance Periods, when pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and other spices were used for various curative purposes. They were used significantly in the upper classes’ cuisine, especially by royalty.

According to Chef Ashay Dhopatkar, writing in NDTV Food, “The demand for pepper, for instance, a spice that no self-respecting European could do without, was great enough to inspire the voyages of Christopher Columbus and Vasco Da Gama, launching the first fateful wave of European colonialism.”

Even today, the craze for Indian “curry dishes” remains strong. Also, one of our everyday household cures, turmeric mixed with milk (our ubiquitous “haldi doodh”), is becoming globally popular.

The goodness of our turmeric was discovered to be so valuable that India had to fight off attempts to patent it. According to WIPO Magazine, ever so many Indian ingredients, spices, and herbs are now being protected by the formation of our Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL), a database containing 34 million pages of information formatted in multiple languages on some 2,260,000 spices, herbs, and other Indian medicinal formulations.


Ten of the finest Indian spices and their medicinal value

We cannot do justice to all our Indian spices in just one article. But here are the top ten. Look how experts in medicine have validated them.


1. Haldi (or Turmeric)

According to Mary-Eve Brown, R.D.N., C.S.O., L.D.N., featured in Hopkins Medicine, “The active ingredient in turmeric is a natural compound (polyphenol) called curcumin, which has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Some research results show that people who have osteoarthritis reported less joint pain when eating turmeric in recipes. Turmeric’s effect on mood disorders, depression, and dementia have also been explored.”


2. Hing (or Asafoetida)

As emphasized by Augustine Amalraj et al., in their medical paper in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, “The collection of resin from the Ferula plants produces asafoetida. It is traditionally used for the treatment of different diseases, such as whooping cough, asthma, ulcer, epilepsy, stomach ache, flatulence, bronchitis, intestinal parasites, spasms, weak digestion, and influenza. Asafoetida is an effective remedy for several diseases of the stomach.”



“Here are some top spices and their medicinal value.”



3. Jeera (or Cumin)

In the words of Kathryn Watson, writing in Healthline, cumin contains naturally occurring substances (called apigenin and luteolin) that work as antioxidants. According to K. Aruna et al. in their medical paper in Food and Chemical Toxicology, cumin is a most powerful anticarcinogen. It also helps treat diarrhea, controls blood sugar, fights bacteria and parasites, has an anti-inflammatory effect, lowers cholesterol, aids weight loss, and boosts memory.


4. Methi (or Fenugreek)

As per Sajad Ahmad Wani et al., in their medical paper in Science Direct, “Fenugreek is known for its lymphatic cleansing activity to remove toxic wastes, dead cells, and trapped proteins from the body. Fenugreek has been used to give relief for colds, bronchial complaints, influenza, asthma, catarrh, constipation, sinusitis, pleurisy, pneumonia, sore throat, laryngitis, hay fever, and tuberculosis. It also has antidiabetic, antifertility, anticancer, antimicrobial, antiparasitic, and hypocholesterolemic effects.”


5. Kali Mirch (or Black Pepper)

As stated by WebMD, black pepper offers health benefits thanks to its bioactive compounds, with piperine (a natural alkaloid) being the most important. Piperine helps to lower the risk of chronic illnesses like atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, and neurological conditions. Black pepper also boosts white blood cells, which your body uses to fight invading bacteria and viruses.


6. Saunf (or Fennel)

As written in Netmeds, fennel is rich in manganese. It activates enzymes, triggers metabolism, regulates blood sugar, and strengthens the bones. Fennel comprises more than 87 volatile compounds, including polyphenol antioxidants such as rosmarinic acid, chlorogenic acid, quercetin, and apigenin. A diet rich in antioxidants lowers the risk of chronic ailments like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurological disorders.


7. Elaichi (or Cardamom)

Going by the words of Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD, writing in Healthline, cardamom has some substantial medicinal benefits. Its antioxidant and diuretic properties lower blood pressure. It has cancer-fighting compounds. It helps digestive issues, including ulcers. Its antibacterial effects can help treat infections. It aids breathing and oxygen use. It can help lower blood sugar levels. It also aids liver protection and reduces anxiety.


8. Laung (or Cloves)

In the opinion of Jennifer Lefton, MS, RD/N, CNSC, FAND, writing in Very Well Health, cloves are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Cloves have anti-inflammatory properties and help with toothache, dental pain, plaque buildup, hangovers, and indigestion. Some preliminary evidence also suggests that eugenol (found in cloves) may have a lowering effect on blood sugar levels, and it may be an effective cancer therapy (alone or combined with chemotherapy).



“Cook homely food, spice up your favorite dishes for good health.”



9. Kesar (or Saffron)

As articulated by Hifzur R. Siddique et al, in their medical paper in Science Direct, saffron is an aphrodisiac and antispasmodic that also acts against stomach ailments and helps lumbar pain. It has been found to help with neuropathic pain, and can work as an anticonvulsant and antidepressant. Saffron also works as an antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory agent, and has a therapeutic effect against cardiovascular diseases.


10. Dalchini (or Cinnamon)

As expressed by Jo Lewin, a registered nutritionist, writing in BBC Good Food, “Cinnamon was once traded as currency.” This was because it is found to be a supremely valuable ingredient. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. It helps lower blood sugar, reduces the risk of Type-2 diabetes, improves insulin sensitivity, manages blood pressure, and is beneficial for the aging brain. It protects against heart disease by reducing blood triglycerides and cholesterol levels. It also supports gut health.


In summary

It’s clear that several Indian spices seem to help in various degrees, even with chronic ailments such as obesity, cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension. When these ailments combine with other hereditary factors, they can all have a multiplicative effect on the heart. So organic spice-based food is good for health.

The right combinations of spices in our diets can help when we have signs of high blood sugar and hypertensive heart disease. Spices can also help when we need to reduce high cholesterol, or want to manage diseases caused by obesity.

Cook homely Indian food. Spice up your favorite dishes. Stay heart-healthy. Be a Zinda Dil.




  1. Dhopatkar, Ashay. NDTV Food. “5 Indian Spices the British Took With Them When They Left India in 1947.” Accessed: February 9, 2023. https://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/5-indian-spices-the-british-took-with-them-when-they-left-india-in-1947-1443785
  2. WIPO Magazine. “Protecting India’s Traditional Knowledge.” Accessed: February 9, 2023. https://www.wipo.int/wipo_magazine/en/2011/03/article_0002.html
  3. Amalraj, Augustine, et al. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine. “Biological activities and medicinal properties of Asafoetida: A review.” Accessed: February 9, 2023. https://mcclurefitness.com/story/how-to-encourage-your-significant-other-to-work-out/
  4. Brown, Mary-Eve, R.D.N., C.S.O., L.D.N. Hopkins Medicine. “Turmeric Benefits.” Accessed: February 9, 2023. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5506628/
  5. Watson, Kathryn. Healthline. “Cumin Benefits.” Accessed: February 9, 2023. https://www.healthline.com/health/cumin-benefits
  6. Aruna, K, et al. Food and Chemical Toxicology. “Anticarcinogenic effects of some Indian plant products.” Accessed: February 9, 2023. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/027869159290180S
  7. Wani, Sajad Ahmad, et al. Science Direct. “Fenugreek: A review on its nutraceutical properties and utilization in various food products.” Accessed: February 9, 2023. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1658077X15301065
  8. WebMD. “Black Pepper: Health Benefits, Nutrition, and Uses.“ Accessed: February 9, 2023. https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-black-pepper
  9. NetMeds. “Saunf/Fennel Seeds: Nutrition, Health Benefits, Uses For Weight Loss, Digestion And Recipes.” Accessed: February 9, 2023. https://www.netmeds.com/health-library/post/saunffennel-seeds-nutrition-health-benefits-uses-for-weight-loss-digestion-and-recipes
  10. Streit, Lizzie, MS, RDN, LD. Healthline. “10 Health Benefits of Cardamom, Backed by Science.” Accessed: February 9, 2023. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cardamom-benefits
  11. Lefton, Jennifer, MS, RD/N, CNSC, FAND. Very Well Health. “What Are Cloves?” Accessed: February 9, 2023. https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-health-benefits-of-cloves-89050
  12. Siddique, Hifzur R, et al. Science Direct. “Medicinal Properties of Saffron With Special Reference to Cancer—A Review of Preclinical Studies.” Accessed: February 9, 2023. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128184622000188
  13. Lewin, Jo. BBC Good Food. “Top 12 health benefits of cinnamon.” Accessed: February 9, 2023. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-cinnamon


Submit a Comment
Your email address will not be published fields are marked*

Subscribe To Our Newsletter
The field is required. Enter valid Email.