Chai Tea Spices and their Health Benefits

When it’s cold outside, a hot cup of chai is just the perfect drink to lift the spirits and warm you up from inside out. And the best part – when it comes to chai spices, there are so many options! And all of them have different, amazing health benefits. So we decided to give you a brief, but hopefully insightful overview of all those healthy spices you can find in chai!
So the next time you’re making yourself a cuppa – you know it’s not just a balm for your soul, but also does wonders for your body. 

cardamom 

health benefits

good for: high blood pressure, digestion, detox and bad breath

Cardamom has been used in traditional medicine for centuries as its seeds, oils and extracts are thought to have impressive medicinal properties.

 

 

blood pressure

According to this study, adults with newly diagnosed high blood pressure were given three grams of cardamom powder a day. After 12 weeks, blood pressure levels had significantly decreased.

digestion

Cardamom has been used for thousands of years to help with digestion. The most researched property of cardamom, as it pertains to relieving stomach issues, is its possible ability to heal ulcers.

detox

Researchers also suspect that the spice may help with detox thanks to its diuretic effect, meaning it can promote urination to remove water that builds up in your body.

bad breath

A study conducted in 2012 suggests that cardamom can lead to minty fresh breath due to its ability to fight common mouth bacteria. 

ginger

HEALTH BENEFITS

good for: nausea, headaches, flu & cold, immune system and menstrual pain 

Ginger’s unique fragrance and flavour come from its natural oils, the most important of which is gingerol.
Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger as it has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

nausea and morning sickness:

Ginger appears to be effective against nausea and morning sickness.
A review of 12 studies in 1,278 pregnant women found that taking ginger daily alleviated the nausea symptoms, however it did not significantly reduce the number of vomiting episodes.

headache:

A 2014 study found that 250 mg of a ginger powder supplement decreased migraine symptoms about as well as the prescription drug sumatriptan.  

flu and sore throat:

2013 laboratory study showed that fresh ginger had antiviral effects in models of respiratory infection and appeared to stop the reproduction of a virus. 

immune system:

Several studies suggest that ginger can enhance immune response thanks to its high levels of antioxidants and its powerful antiviral and antibacterial properties. 

menstrual pain:

2012 study as well as another study conducted in 2015 have shown that ingesting ginger during the first few days of menstruation can reduce the severity of menstrual cramps.
It appears that zingibain, the enzyme found in ginger may inhibit your body’s production of prostaglandins – a hormone like substance which is responsible for menstrual pain. 

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star anise

HEALTH BENEFITS

good for: bronchitis, insomnia, bad breath, digestion

The most valuable component of star anise may lie within its dense supply of flavonoids and polyphenols. These may primarily be responsible for the spice’s broad applications and medicinal benefits. Some of the major health-promoting compounds found in star anise include:
Linalool, Quercetin, Anethole, Shikimic acid, Gallic acid, Limonene. 
Together, these compounds may contribute to the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of star anise.

flu:

Star Anise is the major source of the compound called shikimic acid, which has been used for over 30 years to produce an antiviral vaccine Tamiflu (a treatment for influenza, such as bird flu).  
One test-tube study even found that combining shikimic acid with quercetin, a type of natural plant pigment, was able to significantly increase the production of immune cells compared to treatment with Tamiflu.

bronchitis:

Thanks to the secretolytic properties of the essential star anise oil, its use can be particularly useful in the case of inflammation of the respiratory tract such as bronchitis.

digestion:

The phytonutrients within star anise stimulate the digestive track. Star anise extract can stop the growth of gram negative bacteria such as (E. coli) which causes various digestive issues.

insomnia:

According to Ayurveda, star anise may have sedative properties which can help your nerves to settle down and also ensure a good night’s sleep. If you are having difficulty getting to sleep, try a cup of soothing star anise tea before going to bed.

 

Cautions: Make sure that you are using Chinese star anise and not Japanese star anise. The Japanese version is inedible and actually poisonous if consumed by mouth.

cinnamon

HEALTH BENEFITS

good for: bronchitis, insomnia, bad breath, digestion

The distinct smell and flavor of cinnamon are due to the oily part, which is very high in the compound cinnamaldehyde. Scientists believe that this compound is responsible for most of cinnamon’s powerful effects on health and metabolism.

bronchitis:

Thanks to the secretolytic properties of the essential star anise oil, its use can be particularly useful in the case of inflammation of the respiratory tract such as bronchitis.

digestion:

The phytonutrients within star anise stimulate the digestive track. Star anise extract can stop the growth of gram negative bacteria such as (E. coli) which causes various digestive issues.

insomnia:

According to Ayurveda, star anise may have sedative properties which can help your nerves to settle down and also ensure a good night’s sleep. If you are having difficulty getting to sleep, try a cup of soothing star anise tea before going to bed.

blood sugar:

Cinnamon can improve insulin sensitivity, helping the hormone transport blood sugar from your blood stream to your cells. This leads to lower blood sugar levels and helps prevent conditions like type 2 diabetes. Moreover, cinnamon has been shown to decrease the amount of glucose that enters your bloodstream after a meal. It does this by interfering with numerous digestive enzymes, which slows the breakdown of carbohydrates in your digestive tract.

Cautions: Make sure that you are using Chinese star anise and not Japanese star anise. The Japanese version is inedible and actually poisonous if consumed by mouth.

turmeric 

HEALTH BENEFITS

good for: diabetes, arthritis, blood pressure

Turmeric has a long tradition in medicine and has been been passed down within Ayurveda. Ayurveda is sanskrit for “The Science of Life”, an oral tradition dating back 5000 years often called the Mother of all healing and is seen as the foundation of many natural healing ideas we have today. Early Chinese medicine also recognised the powers of turmeric.

diabetes

Curcumin can help fight inflammation and keep blood sugar levels steady and has been shown in studies to help prevent and treat type 2 diabetes. 

arthritis

As a strong anti-inflammatory, curcumin has also been shown to help alleviate the symptoms of Arthritis. Whilst there is no cure for Arthritis studies have shown turmeric to be effective in decreasing pain and increasing physical function.

blood pressure

Curcumin has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood pressure. As being overweight is linked to inflammation, the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects of curcumin have been shown to benefit cardiovascular disease. Oxidative damage is thought to be a contributing factor behind many diseases and aging symptoms of the body. 

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clove

HEALTH BENEFITS

good for: memory loss, tooth ache, improved liver function

Cloves include multiple compounds that are linked to anti-inflammatory properties. Eugenol is the most important of these compounds. Eugenol has been shown to reduce the inflammatory response in the body, reducing the risk of diseases such as arthritis and helping to manage symptoms foundation of many natural healing ideas we have today. Early Chinese medicine also recognised the powers of turmeric.

memory loss

Packed with eugenol, amongst other polyphenols, this antioxidant has been shown to be an important compound for the treatment of memory loss caused by oxidative stress. An animal study showed that clove oil could revert memory and learning deficits as a result of reducing oxidative stress. 

tooth ache  

Since the 13th century, clove has been used a pain reliever for toothache and joint pain. Scientists have demonstrated two mechanisms for this with eugenol activating calcium and chloride channels in cells whilst also acting as a capsaicin inhibitor. Capsaicin is the active component in chilli peppers and responsible for that burning sensation.

improved liver function

Clove has been shown to be effective in protecting against liver disease and injury. The anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of Eugenol alongside β-sitosterol and ascorbic acid in Clove has shown to be effective in treating liver cirrhosis.

allspice

HEALTH BENEFITS

good for: digestion, pain relief, menopause relief

Black pepper is rich in a potent antioxidant called piperine, which may help prevent free radical damage to your cells.

digestion

In Jamaica, hot Allspice tea is drunk to relieve upset stomachs and menstrual cramps. This is likely due to the the abundance of the polyphenol Eugenol in Allspice, which is known to stimulate digestive enzymes.

pain relief

Eugenol, which is the most prolific polyphenol in Allspice leaves has been shown to act as an anti-inflammatory in animal studies. This could explain why Guatemalans traditionally apply Allspice to bruises, sore joints and as a treatment for muscle ache.

menopause relief

In Costa Rica, allspice is commonly sold and used as a way to relieve menopause symptoms and studies have shown that a methanol extract from Allspice was effective in balancing estrogen and progesterone levels. 

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black pepper

HEALTH BENEFITS

good for: asthma, weight loss, flatulence, male fertility

Black pepper is rich in a potent antioxidant called piperine, which may help prevent free radical damage to your cells.

asthma

Thanks to piperine, the active ingredient in black pepper, it is an anti-inflammatory and has antioxidant effects. These have been shown to be beneficial for chronic diseases such as asthma, arthritis and chronic gastritis.

weight loss

Black pepper has a layer of phytonutrients that extract nutrients from food. These same phyto nutrients help break down fat cells and also stimulate our stomach and pancreas’s digestive enzymes. Pepper often makes us perspire and this is the way that the pepper helps our body get rid of excess water and toxins.

flatulence

Black pepper has what is known as carminative properties which in effect help to relieve stomach gas. This in turn has a positive effect on flatulence.

male fertility 

 Pepper is also rich in zinc and magnesium which are both critical for generating the male sex hormone testosterone. A higher sperm count and concentration is the outcome and zinc additionally assists in the sperms movements.

fennel seeds

HEALTH BENEFITS

good for: digestion, pain relief, menopause relief

The essential oil of fennel has been shown to contain more than 87 volatile compounds, including the polyphenol antioxidants rosmarinic acid, chlorogenic acid, quercetin, and apigenin.

heart health

Fennel and its seeds contain fiber, potassium, magnesium, and calcium — all of which are essential for good heart health. Potassium is an essential component of cells and body fluids, it helps control your heart rate and blood pressure.

digestion and bloating

Fennel tea is considered very useful to help indigestion, bloating and constipation because of the oils found in these seeds. Fennel seeds contain estragole, fenchone and anethole, which contribute to the plant’s antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties. 

eye sight

Fennel seeds contain Vitamin A, which is important for eyesight. In ancient India, extracts of these seeds were used to improve the symptoms of glaucoma. A 2008 animal study suggests that the fennel seed extract demonstrated significant oculohypotensive activity, which was found to be comparable to that of timolol – a standard antiglaucoma drug. 

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