Medical Properties of Spices
Medicinal properties and pharmacological applications of commonly used spices
by C. L. Thilakarathne, B.Sc. (Agri.), M.Sc. (Biotec.), Mphil. (Land and Envt.)
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In the following presentation the natural medicinal properties of eight spices are discussed.
Black pepper (Piper nigrum)
Ginger (Zingiber officinalis)
Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)
Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum)
Clove (Eugenia caryophyllus)
Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
Garcinia (Garcinia quaesita)
Long pepper (Tippili, Piper longum) Long pepper is a related species of black pepper.
Natural medicinal systems in Sri Lanka are a compilation of Sinhala Traditional Medicine, Ayurveda, Siddha Medicine of India, and Unani Medicine of Greece, originally brought to Greece by the Arabs. These popular medicinal sciences have flourished since the ancient era.
In Allopathy (Western Medicine) a strong and balanced immune system of a person is recognized as being critical in the prevention of diseases.
In Ayurveda (Asian Natural Medicine) the concept of balancing and enhancing the immune system, is recognized as being paramount.
The concept of most Natural Medicines in Sri Lanka is based on “Tri-Dosha” which conceptualizes “vata” (air and ether-space) “pitta” (fire and water) and “kapha” (water and earth) as energies that are essential for a healthy immune system. According to the Tri Dosha concept, these elements are directly provisional to specific areas of the body, and are critically essential for health and wellness.
These Doshas therefore determine the constitution of a person and all functions and processes in the body. A well-balanced co-operation of these energies is essential to keep the entire body and mind healthy, and to lead an active and happy life.
Accordingly one can only get ill if at least one of the Doshas is unbalanced.
Therefor Ayurveda Medicine specifically profiles a patient to diagnose and recommend an appropriate course to re-balance the Tri-Dosha energies back into their natural balanced state .
Part of that balancing procedure will usually entail a preparation of natural medicine, and Spices are principal ingredients of most natural medicinal preparations.
The following presentation however focuses on the medicinal properties of only eight spices, and it emphasized the chemical composition, especially oil, oleoresin, and piperine contents, of those eight spices.
For some spices, the important chemical constituents that attribute to Natural Medicinal properties are present in oleoresin fraction; example: gingerol, zingerone and shagaol in Ginger.
However, for other spices the piperine content is more prominent for its medicinal properties; example: black pepper and long pepper.
This presentation demonstrates the remarkable importance of spices on human health and emphasizes the common use of spices in Natural Medicines.
The information provided in this presentation can serve as an important platform for the development of inexpensive, safe, and effective, natural medicines derived from spices.