Unique uses for spices and seasonings

by Kesken

Using seasonings and spices for tasks outside of the kitchen.

Surprising uses for seasoning

I hail from a Caribbean country, so for those who are not familiar, we use a lot of spices for our food. I have to admit I was never really fond of overly spicy food , but it grew on me. I began to appreciate the nuances in taste of each herb, spice or seasoning. But I still never saw the relevance of the spice rack in my house. All these fancy names of specific seasonings were wasted in my opinion when there were one size- fits- all alternatives.Some were hardly ever utilized with only a few bottles getting used more than the others when cooking. But then I realised something- I recocognised some of the seasonings- just not in a cooking capacity.

When I was sick, a huge of the amount of the seasonings I saw were used for one reason or another, whether it was indigestion or toothache! Many were pretty much mixed  together to create an unappealingly potent concoction but it worked. I also saw some types being used for other tasks around the house. I decided to find out the alternative uses of these certain spices that helped me recover through various afflictions. So here they are- my alternative uses for household spices!

Bay leaves

Bay leaves are a staple in my family. We always placed it somewhere in our cupboard and it's pungent smell is always recognisable. I have used it personally for the treatment of the common cold and sore throat and it is used for headaches regularly in our family. It has anti -inflammatory effects, which could explain how the oil derived from the leaf ; bay oil is used for sprains and injuries. it is encouraged for use a lot during pregnancy simply because it is a big source of iron- which helps with the formation of blood cells and vitamin A and C. It is pretty useful as an insect repellant- I use it regularly for this purpose. When burned, the lauric acid from the leaf repels mosquitoes and flies.  

Bay leaves
Bay leaves

Cumin

Cumin is used a lot in flavouring foods in Trinidad and Tobago. It is very popular in many other cultures though and I have tasted it especailly in Mexican food. It looks like a smaller sunflower seed and is long and thin. It has a distinctive, full , earthy flavour and it works great in curries. It can be used for acne treatment. Yes, it is another treatment for acne, but this one doesn't require high costs or systemic treatment! Using the powdered form to make a paste can help to dry the sebum. Because of it's drying effect, it must be used sparingly. It has immune boosting qualities also. A cup of tea helps raise the body's immunity and is used especially if one has the common cold. On a personal note, it helped me when I had indigestion and nausea. Cumin oil also helps to relive stress headaches. So enjoy sprinkling that Cumin in your favourite chilli and curries.

Cumin
Cumin

Cinnamon

Yes, I know, cinnamon is one of the most widely used spices anywhere but have you noticed its benefits other than flavouring cereal, pastry and beverages? This bark has one of the highest levels of antioxidants-ever- higher than some fruits and vegetables. It is a stress reliever too. I drank a lot of tea  spiced with cinnamon to relax. It is actually used in India too to treat stomach pains and mild asthma, so think about the additional benefits when adding this popular spice to your oatmeal.

 

 

Cinnamon
Cinnamon

Cloves

Cloves
Cloves

Cloves

Ah, this I remember from childhood. We associate cloves as the potent spice used to to season meat, among other things. However, this dried flower has been used as an effective pain killer when I was growing up. Whenever I experienced a toothache and there were no over the counter stuff available, cloves were ground up and placed on the affected area- tooth or gums. It numbed the pain effectively. It is pretty strong. Which is probably the reason it works in an oil based form also. it is also one of the ingredients my family uses for indigestion and gas.

Corainder

Coriander is also called cilantro. I have limited experience using this particular one , but others have attested to it's antibacterial qualities and it's application to acne. It has been applied to cuts and bruises to great effect too. I know of it being used in tea form to treat young children experiencing colic. It is also used as a food preservative and the seeds can be grounded for mouth ulcers.

Coriander
Coriander

Nutmeg

One of my favourite spices. Our Caribbean cousin, Grenada is popular for growing this  potent spice(seeing a trend with these strong spices?) Nutmeg is actually a seed that lies within a fruit. One of the most flexible spices, it can be used for baking ,cooking, beverages or whatever else you may fancy. It is also part of the many concoctions whipped up to aid digestion. It has strong antibacterial properties that reduce cavity forming bacteria in the mouth. It is a mild muscle relaxant and it's a natural aphrodisiac ! So I guess it encourages blood flow! It must be taken in small amounts though. As I said before-very potent. So don't get overzealous! Note: It's one of my favourites because of the distinctive taste. The taste!

Nutmeg
Nutmeg
Sage
Sage

Sage

This spice may very well earn it's name because other than flavouring meats it has other handy functions too. Gargling sage reduces bad breath.It is used to remove excess mucous from colds and it can be used for women experiencing some of the effects of menopause such as excessive sweating . There has been talk about improving one's memory, but I can't attest to that without some hard facts. It does more than enough already!

Ginger

Who can forget ginger? In the past few decades there has been a bit of a resurgence of the importance of ginger's health benefits. I have seen a lot of people eating ginger raw; from my mother to my primary school teacher. It is used for nausea, morning sickness, a reduction in high blood pressure, the regulation of heart rates and migraine relief. It is one of the main ingredients in those concoctions I was given as a kid for cold treatment. It deserves all of the plaudits and more. Any form is well and good but try to go pure all the way. 

Garlic

We use garlic a lot in our cooking, and of course we have used it for other purposes. Like ginger, many people are now discovering it's other benefits. It has been shown to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, control colds and relieve earaches. It is terrible in a tea though. I was subjected to drinking it in tea form when I was sick but it works. Just keep your tongue out of the way. 

 

Do you have any other useful purposes for household herbs and spices? Tell us in the comment box below!

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Updated: 01/23/2012, Kesken
 
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Kesken on 01/25/2012

Thanks. I had no idea many of these spices were so useful until I delved into the ingredients of some of these traditional treatments I took while I was growing up. Try it out.It can't hurt. We consume much of the stuff. Even though some will work better than others !

BrendaReeves on 01/25/2012

You are certainly knowledgeable on this subject. I'll have to try some of this.

Angel on 01/23/2012

Very interesting article. I never knew these spices could do all this..

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