Fragrant Spices Soothe Arthritis, Headaches and Digestion

Spicy, tangy and invigorating, ginger and turmeric are powerful flavor-enhancers — and powerful health enhancers, too. According to Leo Galland, MD, a New York City internist and author of The Fat Resistance Diet, “Ginger and turmeric are two of the easiest and most powerful nutritional weapons we have to help combat the underlying cause of obesity, diabetes and other inflammation-related conditions.” He describes them as “superstars of traditional Ayurvedic medicine” in India and East Asia, where they have been treasured for thousands of years.

These two spices come from related plant families, and their stems contain valuable compounds that help fight inflammation in the human body. They’re also remarkably simple to use. Fresh gingerroot is delightfully aromatic and has an intense flavor. Dried ginger, the powdered version to be kept in the spice rack, is a great pantry item for adding instant flavor to favorite dishes. Turmeric is also available as a dried powder in the spice section of the supermarket.


Research indicates that ginger can help soothe arthritis, digestive problems, nausea and migraine headaches. Ginger contains inflammation-fighting phenolic compounds called gingerols. Dr. Galland uses ginger as part of his “fat resistance” dietary plan to reverse leptin resistance and help support weight loss by enhancing the function of leptin, the body’s natural weight loss hormone.

A component of curry powder, turmeric gets its vibrant yellow color and health benefits from a flavonoid called curcumin. Turmeric is used to aid in the treatment of stomach ulcers and to help reduce inflammation in people with arthritis. In India, research has shown that dietary turmeric may help with some complications of diabetes.


These two spices are frequently used to add international flair to dishes in fashionable restaurants, so why not bring some of that great flavor home to your kitchen?


Ginger is a common ingredient in Japanese cuisine, where it gives dishes a touch of spiciness. Most US supermarkets carry both powdered and fresh ginger. When buying fresh, look for gingerroots organically grown in the US that feel firm to the touch, examining them to make sure they are not wilted, dried out or moldy. Gingerroot is available year-round. Store gingerroot in the refrigerator, sealed in a plastic bag or wrapped tightly in a paper towel. It should last for a week or two. If you don’t use gingerroot often, you can store it wrapped in the freezer, where it can be expected to last for one month.

To use fresh ginger, remove the dark peel and slice a section of the light-colored root. Chop it to a fine texture and use it to add flavor to cooked dishes, such as stir-fries, soups, stews, or as a topping on broiled or steamed fish. Also, you can brew fresh ginger tea by adding a pinch of finely chopped ginger to boiled water, letting it steep for two to three minutes, then straining out the ginger pieces, leaving a robust tea.


In contrast to its bright color, turmeric has a mellow flavor that characterizes cuisine from countries such as India and Nepal. Powdered turmeric is now available in most supermarkets. Simply add a few shakes to your favorite soups, chili, beans, vegetable dishes or pasta sauce. It blends well into tomato-based sauces. For more delicious ways to enjoy ginger and turmeric, including a one-day free trial of recipes, visit