Also known as chilli, red pepper and cayenne pepper, capsicum is widely used as a spice for its hot, pungent flavour which is mainly due to the alkaloid capsaicin. Capsicum can stimulate the production of adrenal cortex hormones. It is described by herbalists as a strong circulatory stimulant which stimulates gastric secretions, counteracts irritation and also acts as a carminative (counteracts flatulence).
Caraway seeds contain the active ingredients carvol and limonene and are used in medical herbalism as a powerful carminative – to counteract flatulence. For this reason caraway seeds are often added to dishes like cabbage which are liable to produce gas.
A spice widely used in Indian cookery. It also has a valuable use in medical herbalism as a warming digestive stimulant for congestive digestion with symptoms such as abdominal distension, nausea and lack of appetite.
Both celery seeds and the juice of celery stalks are used as a herb to promote alkalinization and as a mild diuretic. These effects may act together to reduce the inflammation of arthritis, and celery seed extract is commonly used by natural medicine practitioners in arthritis treatment. The juice of celery stalks is a rich source of organic sodium which is said to help counteract some of the harmful effects of inorganic sodium chloride.
Widely used in cookery, cinnamon also has antispasmodic and antimicrobial properties. It is a warming digestive and circulatory stimulant and helps to counteract flatulence and diarrhoea. It is capable of suppressing the growth of numerous micro-organisms, including Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans, and some parasitic worms.
Recent research shows cinnamon also to have anti-cancer and anti-diabetic properties.
Cod liver oil
Cod liver oil contains sufficient amounts of vitamins A and D to act as a good source of supplementation for these nutrients. However a survey by the international environmental organisation Greenpeace has found significant levels of pesticide residue in many brands of cod liver oil. Consumers should seek a brand whose producers guarantee good quality control. Cod liver oil is not a good source of EPA (eicosapenaenoic acid) or DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). The consumption of oily fish or fish oil (oil extracted from the flesh of oily fish, not the liver) is required to obtain these nutrients.
Cranberry juice (which should be undiluted and unsweetened or used in the form of a commercially prepared extract), is capable of helping to prevent bacteria from adhering to the walls of the bladder and genitourinary tract, thus preventing cystitis.
Elderberries can be picked in the wild in Europe and are often made into wine. They are an extremely good source of anthocyanin flavonoids, and their juice or puree consumed regularly is considered to be a good remedy for chronic rheumatism, neuralgia and sciatica.
Fenugreek seeds are rich in mucilage and are made into a tea and consumed as a cough remedy in Mediterranean countries. In Germany they are sometimes used externally to soften abscesses and boils. In Chinese medicine, fenugreek is used as a yang tonic to support the energies of the kidneys, heart and spleen, and help conditions such as poor circulation, listlessness and frequent urination. In clinical trials fenugreek ingested orally has demonstrated an insulin-like effect in the treatment of maturity-onset diabetes.
Ground fenugreek seeds are widely used in Indian cookery.
Fish oils contain the active ingredients EPA and DHA. The oils are extracted from the flesh of oily fish such as herrings, mackerel and salmon. These oils are not the same as fish liver oils, which are taken for their vitamin A and D content and are not significant sources of EPA and DHA.