Herbs and Spices
Herbs and Spices as Medicine
Saffron has powerful therapeutic benefits, and is used in Tibetan Medicine as a natural treatment for a range of conditions. It contains over 150 chemical compounds as well as a potent mixture of vitamins and minerals. Western science has now proven what Traditional Tibetan Medicine has taught for millennia, that saffron can not only help to treat a range of ailments, but it can also enhance general health and vitality.
Anti-ageing / Rejuvenation
Several studies have identified saffron as a potent natural antioxidant. Antioxidants are renowned for having a key role in the preservation of internal and external youthfulness. They also help to boost the immune system and fight wound infections.
Immune System Booster
Saffron is an excellent source of vitamins C and A, so it is highly beneficial for the immune system. It has also been observed to promote the formation of collagen. Collagen has become well-known for its importance to maintaining a youthful skin, but it is also important for all cellular and tissue production, including skin and hair, as well as internal organs and vascular system, musculoskeletal structure, and brain health.
Saffron can also be beneficial in helping to reduce colds and flu symptoms. It also assists in releasing toxins through the skin.
Mood Enhancement / Exhilarant
Research has demonstrated that Crocetin, one of the key chemicals present in Saffron Water, increases serotonin levels in the brain. A study involving mice indicated that saffron could also have a beneficial effect on sleep patterns.
Other studies have discovered that saffron can be effective in treating mild to moderate depression. This is thanks to safranal and alfa-crocin, a volatile oil compound.
The Caroteniods present in Saffron are thought to have a beneficial effect on cell mitochrondria. This in turn increases the blood’s oxygen content and improves blood flow and oxygen delivery to all parts of the body. Thanks also to the presence of another molecule, kaempferol, saffron can have a beneficial effect on heart function.
Saffron contains significant quantities of zeaxanthin, the carotenoid that promote retina health.
Saffron has been used for thousands of years to help treat the symptoms of PMS, including mood swings, cramps, bloating and acne.
The use of saffron in treating erectile dysfunction in men, and lubrication in women has also been studied. Both groups reported improvements.
Reduces lactic acid build up in exercise regimes
Saffron helps to rid body tissues of lactic acid build up after strenuous exercise, and has also been observed to ease fatigue and muscle inflammation. Because it also helps to relieve the inflammation that causes arthritis and bursitis, it can help sufferers of these conditions to exercise more, improving their mobility
Saffron as a Natural Treatment for Diseases
Early research indicates that saffron extract supplementation can improve cognitive function and reduce the signs of dementia in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients. Saffron’s potential for use in a range of other nervous system disorders is also being explored. Studies have also been conducted on its promising use as an anti-obesity drug.
is a powerful mix of 3 fruits well renowned for their ability to tonify the digestive system, prevent disease, create skin lustre and rejuvenate the whole body. The 3 fruits are;
Amalaki (Emblica Officinalis): a rejuvenator and a strong natural anti-oxidant helps boosting the immune system. It is the highest known natural source of vitamin C; having 20 times the vitamin C, as in orange. Triphala is seen as being deeply purifying for the body, with the power to repair tissue damage before it manifests as a disease. Therefore, it is a wonderful treatment to maintain health.
Ginger is popular culinary ingredient around the world, but it also has powerful medicinal properties. It has been used in many traditional cultures to treat common ailments such as headaches, digestive problems, arthritis and inflammatory conditions and menstrual problems. In Traditional Tibetan Medicine, ginger is considered to be a ‘warming’ food. Current medical research has placed a great deal of emphasis on proving ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties, however, there are now indications that ginger may also be effective in helping to lower blood cholesterol and reduce the chances of a stroke or heart attack.
Eating certain foods to change body structure is futile. Traditional Tibetan Medicine advises that you eat for your particular constitution rather than your body shape. Then your body will go to its natural, healthy shape.
Answer these questions to find out which body type dominates for you. You will probably have some answers in each column, but usually one column dominates.
Discover Your Body Typology
Traditional Tibetan Medicine questionnaire
|Wind||BILE (FIRE)||PHLEGM (WATER)|
|I have thin, small body||I have medium size, athletic body||I am stout, full-figured|
|I have dry, rough skin and hair||Warm skin, strong smelling sweat, greasy hair||Soft smooth, moist skin, thick strong hair|
|I often feel cold, I don’t like windy and cold places||My body temperature is hot, I don’t like sunny and dry places||I feel cold, I don’t like humid and cold places|
|I am creative and communicative person||I am a good leader, decisive, energetic and goal oriented||I am calm, quiet, introverted person|
|My mood changes often; I can be hypersensitive, anxious and insecure||I lose my temper quickly, can be aggressive or proud||It’s difficult to get me out of balance, but I can be obstinate|
|I have light, short, easily disturbed sleep or insomnia||Good sleep, wake up in the morning easily, vivid dreams||Heavy sleep, difficult to get up in the morning, don’t remember dreams|
|I have unstable, irregular appetite||I have good appetite, fast digestion||I have slow digestion|
|I like warm, spicy and heavy food||I don’t like too hot and oily food, prefer bitter and sweet taste||I like sweet, salty and spicy food|
|I suffer from constipation, bloating, pain in the lower back||I have tendency towards food intoxications, diarrhoea, headaches, inflammation||My Main complaints are indigestion, water retention, chronic metabolic disorders|
If you have a Bile body type, you probably have hyper-metabolism – excess bile and heat condition. If you eat very spicy foods, sugar, citrus, or drink alcohol, this will tend to create more heat in your body. This can contribute to feelings of anxiety, anger and a challenging attitude. These foods can lead to inflammatory disorders, ulcers, gastric and liver problems and hypertension.
If you have a Phlegm body type, you may have a tendency to overeat and oversleep. You have a preference for sugar and dairy food, and you like raw food as well. This can cause problems such as hyperthyroid disorders, diabetes, insomnia, kidney problems and congestion of the lymph system.
The Wind Digestion body type tends to fluctuate, and can be dominated in turn by wind or bile. Food lacking in nutrition, such as sugar, wheat, night shade fruits and vegetables, pork and dairy, along with drinks containing caffeine, can cause problems.
Below is a general guide to favourable foods for the Three Constitutions according to TTM. However, this is not an exhaustive list and the recommendations of a qualified practitioner may be needed for a therapeutic diet.
|Typology||Wind (rLung)||Bile (Tripa)||Phlegm (Badkan)|
|Beneficial Potency / Texture||Oily, Heavy, Smooth||Cool, Liquid, Bland||Light, Sharp, Course|
|Beneficial Taste||Sweet, Salty, Sour||Bitter, Sweet, Astringent||Bitter, Sweet, Astringent|
|Meats||Heavy warming meats such as Dehydrated meats (nutrient dense), Mutton, Fish.||Cool and light meats such as Pork, Beef, Goat meat.||Heating/warming meats such as Mutton, Fish, Chicken.
|Vegetables / Legumes||Cooked vegetables.|
Onion, Garlic, Black chickpeas, Daikon, Nettles, Lettuce, Carrots, Beets, Green beans, Okra, Potatoes, Zucchini, Asparagus.
|Dandelion, Celery, Bitter vegetables such as Endives, Bitter melon, Asparagus, Broccoli, Cucumber, Sprouts, Leafy greens||Avoid raw (cooling) and Starchy (heavy) vegetables. Eat plenty of legumes except soy beans and mung beans , Aged Daikon, Rhubarb, Green and hot peppers, Mushrooms, Cabbage, Asparagus.|
|Fruit||Bananas, Coconuts, Grapes and grape fruit, Figs, Papaya, Mango, Plums, Peaches, Avocados.||Melons, Apples, Pomegranates, Mango, Prunes, Raisins, Figs,||Pomegranate, Pineapples, Berries, Tomatoes, Figs, Apples (green) , Pears|
|Grains||Only well cooked and in moderate amounts.|
|Unfavourable. If eaten, couple with hot and spicy natural ingredients and condiments.
|Dairy||Hot milk||Yoghurt, Cow’s milk||Liquid Whey and yoghurt|
|Oils||Most oils are favourable. Seed oils (sesame is best), Aged Butter, Ghee||Fresh butter. Avoid Mustard oil||Oils in moderation.
Sesame, Ghee, Sunflower oil.
|Spices and Condiments||Black salt, Asafoetida, Nutmeg||Saffron||Black Pepper, Ginger, Raw Honey|
|Nuts/Seeds||Favourable||Unfavourable due to their heating nature||Minimal amounts|
|Beverages||Grain beers, Bone broth, Warm water.||Cold water, Boiled cooled water||Hot boiled water, Aged wine.|
Cinnamon is an all-time favourite in kitchens around the world. It fact, it was so popular that at one time it was actually used as currency. The majority of the world’s cinnamon comes from Indonesia and China. It comes from the inner bark of a small evergreen tree, which is peeled and laid in the sun to dry, where it curls up into rolls known as cinnamon sticks. Cinnamon doesn’t only taste good – in savoury as well as sweet dishes – it has a wide range of medicinal and health benefits. Its principal essential oil, cinnamaldehyde, has strong antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. It also has anti-inflammatory effects, due to its quantities of polyphenol antioxidants.
Medical researchers have found some evidence that short term use of cinnamon can help to reduce blood pressure and improve glycaemic control and therefore help manage Type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon has also been used around the world in the alleviation of gastrointestinal problems. It is considered a carminative, which helps in the treatment of digestive imbalances, such as flatulence. It is also used in traditional medicines to increase blood flow and improve blood oxygen levels.
Turmeric is one of the ‘powerhouse’ spices. It boost the flavour and colour of a good curry, but its benefits go far beyond that. Turmeric has been used in Indian and Tibetan medicine for thousands of years. Western science has now produced many studies that confirm its medicinal properties. Turmeric’s main ingredient is curcumin, a very strong anti-oxidant with powerful anti-inflammatory effects. This means that a turmeric extract containing mostly curcumin (with piperine to enhance its absorption) is most likely to have the strongest health benefit.
Anti-Inflammatory: Turmeric is such a powerful anti-inflammatory, that studies have found it fights off inflammation with almost the same efficacy as anti-inflammatory medication, but without the side effects associated with many drugs.
Turmeric helps to boost levels of BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, which is a type of growth hormone that improves brain function. Brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s have been observed to have decreased levels of this hormone.
Protection against heart disease: Curcumin has been observed to improve the endothelium (the lining of blood cells). Endothelial dysfunction is a major factor in heart disease.
Turmeric is being studied as a cancer preventative. Researchers have observed that Curcumin can significantly reduce colon lesions (which can turn cancerous). Other studies have observed that it can contribute to killing cancer cells.
Curcumin has been demonstrated to be as effective as antidepressants in treating depression. It does this by helping boost the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. And it’s natural, without the potential side-effects and addictive qualities of many anti-depressant drugs.
It can even help treat endometriosis by helping to repress the lesions. Once again, it’s the powerful qualities of curcumin that have this effect.
Shatavari is a member of the asparagus family, in fact, it’s sometimes called ‘wild asparagus’, and it grows in tropical areas such as those of Asia, India, Australia and Africa. It is called an adaptogenic herb, which means it gives your body what it specifically needs to bring it into balance, and help it cope with physical and emotional stress. We use Shatavari as a general health tonic to improve vitality and immune response, and to help prevent cell damage, due to its power anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also believed to help with certain digestive problems, and may also act as a natural diuretic, helping your body to get rid of excess fluids.
Shatavari has been used for centuries to support women’s reproductive health, help balance hormones treat PMS and menopausal symptoms, strengthen the immune system, and even support healthy breast milk production. It has been observed to treat decreased oestrogen levels during menopause, and so is useful in treating hot flushes, night sweating, vaginal dryness and ‘brain fog’.
And shatavari is not just for women. It has also been used to help men with impotence problems.
Pomegranate seeds are little ‘health bombs’. The seeds are encased in a sack of juice can help heal a range of physical and even mental conditions, as well as help maintain good health. In TTM, pomegranate is one of the most important herbs for treating indigestion and gastric conditions. It boosts metabolism, stimulates the appetite, helps reduce excess fat and clears stagnated wastes. It also has antioxidant properties that are about three times greater than that of green tea or red wine.
The elemental taste of pomegranate is sour. The sour taste comes from the combination of the fire and earth elements. This means that sour plants/herbs like pomegranate have fire and earth element qualities. The qualities of fire and earth combine and complement each other to produce the potent sour taste.
Angelica archangelica is a very versatile herb. In Traditional Tibetan Medicine it is valued primarily for its invigorating action on the digestive system. This herb warms up the body and also serves as a tonic to provide relief from dyspepsia, stomach pain and gas. It can also help treat poor blood circulation. It’s said to promote bodily heat and dry up inflammation fluids; it is used in the treatment of loss of vigour, pain in the kidneys and hips, swelling and fullness in the abdominal region, accumulation of fluids in bone joints and skin eruptions.
The stems, leaves and seeds of angelica also have culinary uses. The stems can be steamed and buttered before serving it like asparagus. In addition, the leaves are an excellent add-on for salads, soups, herbal mixes as well as in cooking stock (bouillon) for shellfish and other fish.
The herb can also be used to prepare a refreshing tea. Brew one teaspoonful (5 ml) of dried up herb or about three teaspoons (15 ml) of the crushed leaves of the herb in one cup (250 ml) of boiling water. Set it aside to infuse and then add lemon or honey to it for taste.
Angelica seeds and roots have essential oils that are used in manufacturing perfumes and also for adding essence to vermouth, gin and Chartreuse. The seeds of angelica have a flavour akin to that of juniper and are occasionally used in place of actual juniper berries
The right plants and foods for your body, life stage or disorder are the primary source of ‘medicine’.
External Therapies such as Moxibustion, Acupuncture, Message, Herbal Bath Therapy, Hot and Cold Compresses to treat a range of conditions.
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