Herbs and spices have been used for thousands of years to aid in health and even potentially reduce or eliminate diseases.
Although most believe these are just folktales or ancient remedies, there is actually some impressive science testing these, validating their use as effective health supplements in modern day life.
Throughout this article, I’ll provide a summary of the science behind 5 of my favorite herbs and spices, which I suggest to help optimize health, fat loss and even aid in reducing disease risk!
Cinnamon May Prevent Insulin Resistance
As a popular spice often used to add a unique taste to food, cinnamon actually offers far more than just a great taste.
Interestingly, cinnamon is a potent supplement that can potentially ward off risk of diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes due to its strong influence on blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity.
Unfortunately, consuming large amounts of fast-digesting carbohydrates can often lead to large insulin spikes. If this occurs chronically, it can lead to a disorder called insulin resistance and eventually to Type 2 Diabetes.
Luckily, research has shown that cinnamon may be an effective supplement to help combat these issues. In fact, multiple studies have displayed numerous different effects on insulin’s activity and even how carbohydrates are digested (1, 2).
One study revealed that cinnamon contains different compounds that actually improve insulin sensitivity. This means that when carbohydrates are ingested, insulin is able to do its job, of disposing glucose out of the blood, more easily (1).
Additionally, studies have revealed that ingestion of cinnamon can inhibit specific enzymes that play a role in carbohydrate digestion (2, 3).
By inhibiting these enzymes, cinnamon can actually reduce the rate of glucose (sugar) entering the blood. In turn, this can reduce the amount of insulin that is secreted into the blood, in essence preventing insulin resistance.
I suggest using a supplement containing cinnamon on a daily basis to ensure that you have an optimal insulin response. Sadly, you will struggle to get the daily dose from just using the natural spice, hence why supplementation is recommended.
You can learn more about CAPLABS blood sugar support here which includes cinnamon.
Ginger Optimizes Heart Health & Testosterone
Ginger is another spice that made it onto this list due to its wide range of benefits, from its ability to reduce nausea, total cholesterol and triglycerides, to even playing a role in increasing testosterone (4, 5, 6).
Used for decades, ginger is often regarded as a traditional Chinese medicine, which is taken to alleviate many different ailments.
Interestingly, studies have even indicated that including ginger in a meal can effectively reduce your feelings of hunger and, thus, the amount of calories you consume (7).
Taking ginger for this purpose long term could potentially lead to meaningful weight loss.
In addition to its potential weight loss benefits, ginger may provide benefit for general health as well.
Studies have indicated that using ginger could potentially lead to reductions of total cholesterol and even blood triglycerides. Based on these findings, ginger may be effective for preventing issues such as heart disease or even used as a complementary supplement when treating such disease (4, 5).
Try taking around 500-1000mg per day; best of all, a whole month’s supply is less than $10 per month, it’s really a no-brainer!
Ashwagandha Increases Testosterone & Performance
Ashwagandha is a herb that has made waves in recent years due to research indicating that supplementing with it may provide many health benefits. These include brain protection, improved testosterone levels, enhanced performance and potentially even acting as an anti-cancer agent (7, 8, 9).
Additionally, Ashwagandha seems to be a potent adaptogen, another class of supplements that has become quite popular. Adaptogens are unique in that they seem to be quite beneficial for their anti-anxiety effects. Furthermore, ashwagandha has even been implicated in reducing insomnia and even depression (10, 11, 12).
However, its testosterone-boosting potential seems to be one of the most interesting properties of ashwagandha. Studies have revealed that its use is likely most beneficial for those whom have reduced levels of testosterone.
As such, supplementing with ashwagandha is likely a prime candidate for helping those with low testosterone to normalize their levels. Additionally, ashwagandha may be a promising agent to be used as combination therapy in cancer patients.
Studies have shown that using ashwagandha might provide benefits such as reducing proliferation of cancer cells and even inhibiting the process of angiogenesis, a process that grows blood vessels to provide cancer cells with energy (13).
If angiogenesis is inhibited, there is a strong possibility of affected cancer cells having a difficult time surviving.
Based on the evidence, ashwagandha seems to be one of the most promising herbal supplements on the market for a wide range of health benefits. I suggest supplementing with ashwagandha on a daily basis, especially if you perform high intensity exercise, want to optimize recovery, hormones or are often stressed.
You can learn more about ashwagandha in our Thyroid & Metabolism supplement here:
Rhodiola Rosea Is A Powerful Adaptogen
Rhodiola Rosea is another popular Chinese herbal supplement also considered to be an adaptogen.
As such, Rhodiola seems to be quite effective as an anti-fatigue agent, in turn improving cognition, energy and focus.
In fact, one meta-analysis indicated that supplementation of Rhodiola is often able to reduce fatigue during physical activity, thus improving performance as well as improving mental performance at the same time (14).
Additionally, other studies have revealed that supplementation can be used as a potential anti-stress agent, especially for individuals whose life and work-related stress is high (15).
As a result, the same study indicated that, due to the anti-stress effect, work performance and social well-being were improved.
If that’s not enough, some research has indicated that Rhodiola Rosea might actually inhibit storage of fatty acids in fat cells, reducing the risk of increasing fat mass (16).
For general reductions in fatigue and resilience to stress, I suggest using Rhodiola Rosea on a daily basis to optimize well-being and health. Studies suggest using around 300-600 mg per day.
Astragalus Improves Cell Recycling
Astragalus is another traditional Chinese herb that has been used for years as a potential anti-inflammatory supplement.
Interestingly research has indicated that supplementation with Astragalus may increase the activity of macrophages (17).
Macrophages are actually a form of white blood cells, which engulf damaged components in the body. When cell components in the body are damaged or malformed, macrophages engulf the damaged components and recycle them through a process called phagocytosis.
In doing so, the body can regulate damaged components and replace them with fully functioning ones. As a result, the body acts optimally, while reducing things such as inflammation.
Additionally, Astragalus has been associated with diuretic properties as well as improving kidney function. Consequently, the use of this supplement may be beneficial for reducing unsightly water retention (18, 19).
For general health and reduced inflammation, you can try around 1000mg or 1g per day.
5 Super Herbs Supplements For Health!
So, there are valid reasons that many of these spices and herbs have stood the test of time.
While some may just be an old folk’s tale, these herbs and spices have some impressive benefits and are also extremely low cost to purchase and add into your daily routine.
If you want to learn more about research-driven supplements, you can also view my own scientific supplement line on www.caplabs.com
- Jarvill-Taylor, K. J., Anderson, R. A., & Graves, D. J. (2001). A hydroxychalcone derived from cinnamon functions as a mimetic for insulin in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 20(4), 327-336.
- Shihabudeen, H. M. S., Priscilla, D. H., & Thirumurugan, K. (2011). Cinnamon extract inhibits α-glucosidase activity and dampens postprandial glucose excursion in diabetic rats. Nutrition & metabolism, 8(1), 46.
- Adisakwattana, S., Lerdsuwankij, O., Poputtachai, U., Minipun, A., & Suparpprom, C. (2011). Inhibitory activity of cinnamon bark species and their combination effect with acarbose against intestinal α-glucosidase and pancreatic α-amylase. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, 66(2), 143-148.
- Ernst, E., & Pittler, M. H. (2000). Efficacy of ginger for nausea and vomiting: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. British journal of anaesthesia, 84(3), 367-371.
- Alizadeh-Navaei, R., Roozbeh, F., Saravi, M., Pouramir, M., Jalali, F., & Moghadamnia, A. A. (2008). Investigation of the effect of ginger on the lipid levels. A double blind controlled clinical trial. Saudi medical journal, 29(9), 1280-1284.
- Hosseini, J., Mamaghani, A. M., Hosseinifar, H., Gilani, M. A. S., Dadkhah, F., & Sepidarkish, M. (2016). The influence of ginger (Zingiber officinale) on human sperm quality and DNA fragmentation: A double-blind randomized clinical trial. International Journal of Reproductive BioMedicine, 14(8), 533.
- Kasture, S., Vinci, S., Ibba, F., Puddu, A., Marongiu, M., Murali, B., … & Acquas, E. (2009). Withania somnifera prevents morphine withdrawal-induced decrease in spine density in nucleus accumbens shell of rats: a confocal laser scanning microscopy study. Neurotoxicity research, 16(4), 343.
- Gupta, A., Mahdi, A. A., Shukla, K. K., Ahmad, M. K., Bansal, N., Sankhwar, P., & Sankhwar, S. N. (2013). Efficacy of Withania somnifera on seminal plasma metabolites of infertile males: a proton NMR study at 800MHz. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 149(1), 208-214.
- Senthilnathan, P., Padmavathi, R., Magesh, V., & Sakthisekaran, D. (2006). Chemotherapeutic efficacy of paclitaxel in combination with Withania somnifera on benzo (a) pyrene‐induced experimental lung cancer. Cancer science, 97(7), 658-664.
- Biswal, B. M., Sulaiman, S. A., Ismail, H. C., Zakaria, H., & Musa, K. I. (2013). Effect of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) on the development of chemotherapy-induced fatigue and quality of life in breast cancer patients. Integrative cancer therapies, 12(4), 312-322.
- Chandrasekhar, K., Kapoor, J., & Anishetty, S. (2012). A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 34(3), 255.
- Andrade, C., Aswath, A., Chaturvedi, S. K., Srinivasa, M., & Raguram, R. (2000). A double-blind, placebo-controlled evaluation of the anxiolytic efficacy ff an ethanolic extract of withania somnifera. Indian journal of psychiatry, 42(3), 295.
- Mohan, R., Hammers, H., Bargagna-Mohan, P., Zhan, X., Herbstritt, C., Ruiz, A., … & Pribluda, V. (2004). Withaferin A is a potent inhibitor of angiogenesis. Angiogenesis, 7(2), 115-122.
- Hung, S. K., Perry, R., & Ernst, E. (2011). The effectiveness and efficacy of Rhodiola rosea L.: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Phytomedicine, 18(4), 235-244.
- Edwards, D., Heufelder, A., & Zimmermann, A. (2012). Therapeutic Effects and Safety of Rhodiola rosea Extract WS® 1375 in Subjects with Life‐stress Symptoms–Results of an Open‐label Study. Phytotherapy Research, 26(8), 1220-1225.
- Lee, O. H., Kwon, Y. I., Apostolidis, E., Shetty, K., & Kim, Y. C. (2011). Rhodiola‐induced inhibition of adipogenesis involves antioxidant enzyme response associated with pentose phosphate pathway. Phytotherapy Research, 25(1), 106-115.
- Denzler, K. L., Waters, R., Jacobs, B. L., Rochon, Y., & Langland, J. O. (2010). Regulation of inflammatory gene expression in PBMCs by immunostimulatory botanicals. PLoS One, 5(9), e12561.
- Ai, P., Yong, G., Dingkun, G., Qiuyu, Z., Kaiyuan, Z., & Shanyan, L. (2008). Aqueous extract of Astragali Radix induces human natriuresis through enhancement of renal response to atrial natriuretic peptide. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 116(3), 413-421.
- Ahmed, M. S., Hou, S. H., Battaglia, M. C., Picken, M. M., & Leehey, D. J. (2007). Treatment of idiopathic membranous nephropathy with the herb Astragalus membranaceus. American Journal of Kidney Diseases, 50(6), 1028-1032.