1. Chillies (Mirch): Chillies may make you sweat but surprisingly chillies have healing power too. Since ancient times, chillies have been used by healers to cure a variety of ailments. Chillies have been used externally to relieve pain and internally to cure anything from yellow fever to the common cold. The active ingredient in hot red peppers is a compound called capsaicin, which gives it that unique sting. Capsaicin triggers the release of endorphins in the brain, which has a pain relieving effect similar to that of morphine. Their high vitamin C content can also substantially increase the absorption of non-heme iron from other ingredients in a meal, such as beans and grains.
2. Turmeric (Haldi): Although often found in a dried, powdered form, turmeric is also used fresh, much like ginger. Turmeric is sometimes also used as an agent to impart a rich, custard-like yellow color to the dishes. In Ayurvedic practices, turmeric is thought to have many medicinal properties. Many use turmeric as an antiseptic for cuts, burns and bruises. Turmeric also makes coping with diabetes easier. Raw Turmeric juice is used to treat hyper acidity and indigestion. The juice of raw turmeric also acts as a blood purifier. Turmeric contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, making it useful for treating arthritis, inflammatory conditions and possibly cancer. Turmeric is also used as a beauty aid, smoothing the skin, clearing blemishes, as well as brightening the skin. Turmeric is used in the formulation of some sun screens. Its antiseptic and healing properties prevent and cure pimples.
3. Fenugreek (Methi): Fenugreek is mainly used as a green leafy vegetable and seeds are used for seasoning and preparing masalas in curries. Fenugreek has many medicinal uses. Fenugreek seed and leaves are good for increasing breast milk in lactating women. It is also helpful for treating diabetes and lowering cholesterol as it helps in reducing blood sugar levels. Fenugreek can be consumed either by including it in your diet or chewing its seeds (after soaking them overnight). Fenugreek also helps in maintaining a good metabolism and prevents constipation. Fenugreek is found to purify blood and help in flushing out harmful toxins.
4. Cinnamon (Dalchini): An Aromatic smelling tree bark, cinnamon is widely used in most kitchens in both savoury and sweet dishes. Ancient Chinese references use of Cinnamon as early as 2700 BC as a medicine for relieving nausea, fever, diarrhea and menstrual problems. Cinnamon is used for stimulating gastric and digestive juices and carminative. Cinnamon is an antiseptic that helps kill bacteria which cause tooth decay and gum disease, and that is why most of the tooth pastes are cinnamon flavored. It also kills many fungi and viruses that cause diseases. Cinnamon helps calm the stomach, clears up urinary tract infections. In diabetic patients, it helps metabolize sugar in a better way using less insulin.
5. Coriander (Dhania) Leaves/Seeds: All parts of the coriander plant are edible, but the fresh leaves and the dried seeds are commonly used in cooking. Seeds can be roasted or heated on a dry pan briefly before grinding to enhance and alter the aroma and flavour. The leaves of coriander are stimulant and tonic. Coriander help to strengthen the stomach, relieve belching, bloating/distention, increase secretion and discharge of urine. Coriander seeds reduce fever and promote a feeling of coolness. Coriander juice is highly beneficial in deficiencies of vitamin A, B1, B2, C and iron. One or two teaspoons of coriander juice, added to fresh buttermilk, is highly beneficial in treating digestive disorders such as indigestion, nausea, dysentery, hepatitis and ulcerative colitis. It is also helpful in typhoid fever. By drinking regularly coriander water it helps lower blood cholesterol as it is a good diuretic and stimulates the kidney. It can be prepared by boiling dry seeds of coriander and straining the seeds after cooling.
6. Clove (Laung): Cloves are strong aromatic spices used in masalas, curries, powdered or whole form, and are used sparingly. Cloves promote enzymatic flow and boost digestive functioning. They are used in various forms of gastric-irritability and dyspepsia. To control vomiting, lick the powder of fried cloves mixed with honey. Chewing a clove with a crystal of common salt, relieves the irritation in the throat and stops cough in the pharyngitis - that is, inflammation of the pharynx. Clove is an effective remedy for asthma. The use of a clove in toothache decreases pain. It also helps to decrease infection due to its antiseptic properties.
7. Black Pepper (Kali Mirch): Pepper is one of the oldest and most widely used spices across the world. It is usually dried (known as peppercorn when dried) and used as a spice and seasoning. Black pepper is useful in relieving flatulence. Pepper has a stimulating effect on the digestive organs and produces an increased flow of saliva and gastric juices. Powdered black pepper, thoroughly mixed with malted jaggery (gur), may be taken in the treatment of such conditions. Alternatively, a quarter teaspoon of pepper powder mixed in thin buttermilk can be taken during indigestion or heaviness in the stomach. For better results, an equal part of cumin (jeera) powder may also be added to the buttermilk. Three peppers sucked with a pinch of cumin (jeera) seeds and a crystal of common salt provides relief from cough.
8. Cardamom (Elaichi): Cardamom is the "queen of spices", it is one of the most valued spices in the world, used in desserts as well as rich savoury dishes. Cardamom has a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic fragrance. Cardamom is used chiefly in medicines to relieve flatulence and for strengthening digestion activities. Ground cardamom seed mixed with ginger (adrak), cloves (laung) and coriander (dhania), is an effective remedy for indigestion. Cardamom relieves headache caused by indigestion, and also is often used to treat depression. Green cardamom is broadly used to treat infections in teeth and gums, to prevent and treat throat troubles, and congestion of the lungs. Daily gargling with an infusion of cardamom and cinnamon (dalchini) cures pharyngitis, sore-throat and also protects one from flu.
9. Asafetida (Hing): Asafetida is used as a digestive aid, in food as a seasoning. Its odour, when uncooked, is so strong that it must be stored in airtight containers, otherwise the aroma will contaminate other spices stored nearby. However, its odour and flavor become much milder and more pleasant upon heating in oil or ghee. It has many medicinal uses. For gas and flatulence, you may add a pinch of hing to buttermilk with a pinch of salt and drink it after meals. In case of stomach ache, a little hing should be dissolved in water and the paste should be applied on the navel. A piece of hing placed on an aching tooth, reduces pain. It can be fried in ghee and given to the patients suffering from neuro-muscular disorders such as sciatica, facial palsy, paralysis etc. for relief from pain. In breathing disorders such as coughs and cold, it can be consumed in dosages of 12-15 gm for relief. You can even apply hing on an itching skin for relief.
10. Cumin (Jeera)/Carom (Ajwain): Cumin and Carom seeds are both used for cooking and also possesses many medicinal properties. They are a good source of iron and keeps immune system healthy. Water boiled with cumin seeds is good for coping with dysentery. Cumin (also known as Caraway) oil is specially used to remove flatulence. Also a cup of tea made from caraway seeds taken thrice a day after a meal will give relief. The tea is prepared by adding a tsp of caraway seed in 1.5 – 2 litres of boiling water and allows simmering on slow fire for 15 min. Strain and sip hot to get best of results. A hot fomentation with the seeds is a popular household remedy for asthma. Ajwain is good for muscular pains the seeds should be fried in coconut oil and should be massaged as a liniment in treating this condition. Ajwain shouldn’t be used in excess as it can cause dryness of fluid and damage your eyes.