The beneficial effect of herbs and spices in the resolution of many health problems is attributed to the following physiological facts:
1. Herbs and spices are rich in many essential nutrients, especially vitamins, minerals, trace elements, and enzymes.
2. Fresh herbs and spices provide an alkaline surplus that is extremely important for normalizing the acid-alkaline
ratio in the blood and tissues. Excessive acidity is present in many conditions of ill health and is considered to be a contributing factor in the development of many diseases.
Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.): Native to England and Europe, it is most prized for its fruit (berry) and for extracts from its leaves. Hawthorn is one of the most researched cardiotonic plants in the world. Known for reducing blood pressure, it also improves blood flow to and through the heart and improves metabolic processes in
the myocardium. The first recorded use of hawthorn was in the first century A.D. by the Greek herbalist Dioscorides. The value for hawthorn in weight management is that it contains significant thermogenic properties.
The berries, leaves, and flowers of hawthorn contain a variety of bioflavonoid-like complexes (including oligomeric procyanidins, vitexin, and hyperoside), which appear to be primarily responsible for its cardiac benefits. These same bioflavonoids are also sources of potent antioxidants. Extracts of both leaves and flowers are widely used in Europe.
3. Herbs and spices speed the recovery from disease by supplying needed substances for the body’s own healing activity and cell regeneration.
4. Many of the vital nutritive elements in herbs are assimilated directly through the tissues of the mouth into
the blood stream, without putting a strain on the digestive system.
5. Mineral imbalance in the tissues is one of the main causes of diminished oxygenation, which may lead to premature aging of cells and disease. The generous amounts of easily assimilated organic minerals, particularly the calcium, potassium, and silicon that is in some herbs, can help to restore biochemical and mineral balance in the tissues and cells.
6. Herbs, spices, and different vegetal hormones and antibiotics are contained in nature’s own medicines. String
beans, for example, are known to contain insulin-like substances; cucumbers and onions contain hormones
essential for the pancreas; and antibiotic substances are present in fresh garlic, onions, radish, and tomatoes.
7. Research has shown that raw herbs, fruits, and vegetables contain an as-yet-unidentified factor that is responsible for the cell’s ability to absorb nutrients from the bloodstream and effectively excrete metabolic wastes from the cell.
8. The various coloring substances—red, yellow, green, and blue—in all shades and intensities, which are present in fruits, vegetables, and herbs, increase production of red blood corpuscles, influence digestive and assimilative processes, and take part in the metabolism of proteins and cholesterol.
9. Lycopene, a natural antioxidant found exclusively in tomatoes, is getting much attention in the press as a cancer fighter. In the early 1990s, tomatoes and tomato-based products were spotlighted as potentially preventative. In studies conducted at Harvard, forty-eight thousand health professionals were followed for six years and monitored for evidence of prostate cancer. Researchers read the results to suggest that lycopene might decrease the risk of prostate cancer, whereas other dietary antioxidants, including beta-carotene, appeared to have no effect. (Levine).
It is easy to see, from the above, why plant foods, especially herbs, spices, fruits, and vegetables, have such an important role to play in this weight-management program.