By Milka Gronlund, Ph.D., Fitness Director of Aliso Viejo Country Club

Sometimes we look at nutrition from the perspective of protein, sugars, carbohydrates and fats. Herbs and spices are often overlooked, because they do not fall into any of the categories. Many of them have health promoting qualities. The body can show signs of toxicity in many ways. Everyone is different. Some of the signs include acne, skin problems, asthma, allergies, constipation, heart disease, obesity, infections, menstrual problems, cancer, prostate disease, diabetes, mental illness, drug addiction, joint pains, bad breath, indigestion, depression, sinus congestion and sleepiness among others (Haas, 1996 p. 24-25). This short article looks at different herbs and what benefits they might have in different areas, such as cancer prevention, digestion, heart disease prevention and overall wellness. Happy eating!

 Basil– helps with digestion. It is also considered antibacterial and anti-inflammatory (Katz, 2009 p. 31).

Black pepper– helps stimulate digestion and possibly have anti-inflammatory and antitumor properties according to National Cancer Society (Katz, 2009 p. 31).

Cayenne pepper– is a deep red spice that is hot. It is commonly used in cooking. It is considered a powerful tissue and blood cleanser. It is a natural stimulant that can help with elimination of fluid and sweating (Haas, p. 45).

Dandelion– is helpful for the fluid balance of the body. It is considered a liver and blood cleanser that helps filter toxins from the body. It is also considered diuretic, helping with excess water retention (Haas, 1996 p. 45).

Garlic– it is powerful for cleansing of the body. It might help with blood purification. The antibiotic quality might help one recover from illness as well (Haas, p. 45). Garlic can be used in many different foods as a spice.

Ginger– may help with healing chronic inflammation, cleansing of the body and improve circulation. It may help protect the liver and stomach. Best not to be used during pregnancy or for those with gallstones (Balch 2006 p. 110).

Oregano– is considered anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and antibacterial. It may be good for immune system, overall healing and prevention of cancer due to powerful anti-oxidants- thymol and rosmarinic acid (Katz, 2009 p. 37).

Parsley– is a powerful herb that is also a commonly used spice. It can be helpful in helping flush the kidneys. It is considered a diuretic, therefore might help with excess water retention (Haas, 1996 p. 45).

Turmeric– might help fight free radicals and may help protect the liver from toxins. It may also good for cancer and arthritis prevention. Has been found to inhibit the spreading of HIV in lab tests (Balch 2006 p. 123).

When the body is clean, it is able to function more effectively and be healthier. Sometimes we do not even realize that the body is having difficulties, because the change can be very subtle. It often happens over time and all the sudden we realize what has happened, when something goes wrong or we become sick. Some of the benefits of a clean body include greater energy levels, more relaxed state of mind, higher levels of motivation and greater ability to focus on relationships. The skin might also become cleaner and body age more slowly (Haas, 1996 p. 31).

Establishing new lifestyle habits and a healthy diet can be challenging. Be kind and understanding with yourself when making changes. Change can be difficult to manage. Please remember to listen to your body for feedback and work with appropriate health and wellness professionals for optimal results. This is not intended to be a complete detoxification, wellness, nutrition, counseling or exercise program. Please do listen to your body and be very sensitive to the needs of your body.  Enjoy the journey!


  • American Cancer Society,
  • Balch, P. (2006). Prescription for Nutritional Healing. NY, NY: Avery.
  • Haas, E. (1996). The Detox Diet. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts
  • Katz, R. (2009). The Cancer Fighting Kitchen. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts
  • Rose, S. (2004). Detox. Bath, UK: Paragon Publishing Book

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