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The other day I was eating a banana and decided to dip it in some fresh pumpkin butter that I had bought. At no other time of year would this “pumpkin” thoughtseed ever float through my head. With the holiday season upon us, and pumpkin pie everywhere, allow me to share what I know about these medicinal and delicious spices; you’ll never look at pumpkin pie the same way again after reading this. Here’s how they heal you: 

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is thought to aid in regulating blood sugar in people with hyperglycemia, pre-diabetes and diabetes. It works by blocking digestive enzymes such as alpha-glucosidase, sucrose and pancreatic amylase which blunts the amount of sugar released into your bloodstream. Cinnamon also contains MHCP (MethylHydroxyChalcone Polymer) which acts similar to your own insulin by shuttling sugar out of your bloodstream and into your cell.

Clove

We call it “clove” because none of us want to call it by it’s botanical name: Syzygium aromaticum. If you love chai tea, or Masala chai ,you obviously like the taste of cloves because it's an integral part of chai recipes. If you have dental pain, you can put a drop of clove essential oil in water and have sips. You can also put some clove essential oil onto a Q-tip and dab your achy tooth. Aside from toothaches and gum problems, clove can help with many respiratory diseases, Candida, headaches and throat infections. Some men report that it improves their libido, which makes sense because clove is known to enhance testosterone, at least in animal studies.

Nutmeg

Feeling blue around the holidays? Nutmeg is your antidepressant spice and can be sprinkled in coffee, hot chocolate, pumpkin pie and sweet potato dishes. Nutmeg extract was given to mice for three days and it reduced signs of  depression. The researchers concluded it was so profound it was virtually comparable to shots of antidepressant drugs, namely imipramine (Tofranil) and fluoxetine (Prozac). Another interesting little-known fact is that nutmeg can help mice with lung inflammation and asthma symptoms due to its high content of another compound called macelignan.

You know how you have been trained to breathe in relaxing aromas of lavender in order to sleep at night? Well, inhaling nutmeg scent is actually better; according to a study in The International Journal of Molecular Science, “nutmeg oil afforded a greater inhibitory effect than did lavender oil.” The reason it works is because nutmeg is a CNS (central nervous system) tonic that contains a potent anxiolytic called 4-terpineol. It increases activity of GABA in your body and dampens down glutamate.

I need to caution those of you in the benzo community who are still struggling to recover; if you are in PAWS (Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome), then avoid nutmeg until your receptors upregulate and heal. They will do that if you hold on, and please hold on! The topic of benzo and PAWS is covered in some of my other articles at my website.

More: Ask The Pharmacist: Seven life-saving reasons you should eat cauliflower

More: Ask The Pharmacist: The secret nutrient that helps Graves’ disease

More: Ask The Pharmacist: Build a better brain with DHA

Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit SuzyCohen.com.

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