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The Top 12 Herbs and Spices for Longevity, Part 1

In her new book, Rewind Your Body Clock, natural health expert Jayney Goddard offers a blueprint for anti-aging the natural way. One thing she recommends: herbs and spices. In our two-part excerpt, she counts down the top 12 herbs and spices, based on scientific evidence, that are most effective in helping humans stay healthy.

Here are numbers 12 through 7.

12. Rosemary: To Enhance Memory and Hair Growth 

The old phrase, “rosemary for remembrance,” which Shakespeare included in Hamlet, has sunk into the common psyche, showing that our ancestors clearly knew that this herb is linked with improving memory. And rosemary is still used today in remembrance posies. Rosemary is also commonly used in natural products, including supplements, as a preservative due to its powerful antioxidant properties. Furthermore, in studies, rosemary essential oil has been shown to be extremely helpful in promoting hair growth — even where it has been lost due to excess testosterone (such as in male pattern baldness, a condition that can also affect women if they have hormonal imbalances). Interestingly, rosemary actually performs better than conventional hair growth and restoration topical treatments.

11. Spearmint: To Calm the Stomach and Boost Energy

This fresh-tasting herb has powerful antioxidant properties and is well known for its ability to help with digestion and calm an upset stomach. It can relieve the symptoms of IBS in some and, from an anti-aging perspective, research indicates it can be helpful in combatting certain chronic diseases. It has also been shown to help polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) by inhibiting and stimulating the endocrine system in various ways, thus improving hormone balance and preventing the many metabolic side effects of PCOS, including hirsutism. As the iron content of spearmint is high, it can stimulate the production of red blood cells and hemoglobin, thus also helping to prevent anemia as well as enhancing general circulation, energy levels, and wound healing.

10. Basil: The Spicy Italian Secret for Younger-Looking Skin

Herbs traditionally used in Italian cooking tend to contain high levels of antioxidants, and basil is a particularly good example of this. As such, it protects us from harmful free radicals — the damaging molecules that can lead to degenerative issues, including skin wrinkling, osteoporosis, heart disease, many cancers, and even neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Basil can be used as a herb in food or in teas, and its essential oil is an extremely powerful antidote to sickness and diarrhea. It is also an antispasmodic, so can help to relieve coughs, and research shows that it may be beneficial for asthma sufferers, too. Basil essential oil has a refreshing effect, so can also be used to help relieve nervous tension, mental fatigue, and feelings of melancholy. It is also a powerful remedy for migraines, promoting mental strength and clarity.

9. Marjoram: For Both Better Digestion and Better Sleep

A good night’s sleep is essential to your overall well-being, and research shows that adding marjoram to your diet may well improve digestion, which can lead to better sleep. Another way of benefiting from marjoram’s relaxing properties would be to add a couple of drops of the essential oil to a warm bath before going to bed. Marjoram oil has a pleasant warming effect on your body and improves circulation, which increases blood flow, further warming and nourishing your cells. It can also be used to help clear coughs and excess phlegm, and is effective at relieving the pain of arthritis and rheumatism. Research shows that marjoram oil also helps to improve cognitive function and suggests that it might therefore be able to help prevent debilitating neurological conditions including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, as it helps to stop the formation of excessive beta-amyloid plaques, which are linked with worsening Alzheimer’s in particular.

8. Thyme: For Frequent Infections

Frequent infections can really take a toll on our general health, causing us to age biologically. Studies have shown that the humble herb thyme has the power to disable the MRSA bacteria, which could otherwise lead to deadly infections. Essential oil of thyme also makes a very effective mouthwash, which can effectively treat inflammation, gum disease, and sore throats. It’s also a great addition to an essential oil room spritz as it cleanses the atmosphere. Plus, it’s ideal for disinfecting rooms where sick people have been as it really knocks out germs.

7. Sage: To Fight Inflammation

Inflammation is one of the key underlying causes of premature aging. Sage is a superb anti-inflammatory and therefore helps to counteract the problems caused by autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammation-driven conditions such as asthma. The anti-inflammatory qualities of sage also extend to preventing and improving the symptoms of gout, as well as reducing inflammation of the cardiovascular system, thus potentially helping with high blood pressure and heart issues. 

Sage is also known to strengthen the immune system, enhance brain function, regulate digestion, strengthen the bones, slow the onset of cognitive disorders, and prevent and assist recovery from Type 2 diabetes. Even small amounts of sage, whether consumed as a herb or inhaled as a diluted oil, can improve memory retention and recall abilities. Brain activity monitoring studies show that it increases capacity for concentration on a chosen topic, so it is ideal for anyone who feels they need to improve their focus for any reason. 

Sage has quite an intense flavor, but chewing on the leaves is one of the very best ways to get its volatile oils into your system. If, however, that feels like too much for you, the herb can be used in small quantities to make a tincture or tea instead. 

Due to the antimicrobial properties of the herb, it can also be nice to make a sage salve to help prevent bacterial and viral infections that attack the body through the skin. 

Most people aren’t aware that sage also has high levels of vitamin K, an important vitamin not found in many foods. Vitamin K is crucial for maintaining bone density as we age. So if you suffer from osteopenia (early stages of osteoporosis) or have lived a sedentary, nutrient-poor lifestyle, it could be helpful to add sage to your diet to help with bone health.

Sage also contains a variety of chemicals that mimic the drugs typically prescribed for managing Type 2 diabetes. As such, it appears to regulate and inhibit the release of stored glucose in the liver, preventing major fluctuations of blood sugar, and either helping prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes or helping manage and improve the condition if it has already manifested.

To discover the top herbs and spices 6 through 1, keep reading.

Excerpted with permission from Rewind Your Body Clock. Copyright Jayney Goddard, Watkins Media 2019. Order the book at amazon.com

Photo: Alex Raths

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