A whole array of spices and foods have anti-depressive effects and put us in a good mood even when the weather is cold and cloudy and the days are short and dark. The effects of saffron, vanilla, nutmeg, cocoa, rosemary and basil have been a part of holistic medicine for centuries, and have also been scientifically proven
Saffron – a gift from the heavens
Originating in the Himalayas and now the most expensive spice in the world, saffron has long been said to have healing and aphrodisiac effects. In the Middle Ages, saffron was considered a life-prolonging panacea. It was primarily used to treat gynaecological disorders, such as to regulate menstruation – though it was also used during childbirth to stimulate labour (and, as such, pregnant women should avoid saffron). It provides a relaxing effect, promotes protein metabolism and lowers cholesterol.
Studies have shown saffron to have the following properties: it is anti-bacterial, expectorant, anti-viral, digestive and invigorating, while also stimulating cardiac function and regulating menstruation.
In Ayurvedic medicine, it is also considered an effective remedy not only for gynaecological disorders, but also as a means to combat depressive moods and nervous restlessness, as it promotes spiritual peace and has a rejuvenating effect.
Traditional Chinese Medicine describes its ability to prevent stagnation and stimulate Qi flow, thereby utilising vital energy. Its taste is bitter and sweet, and its thermal is neutral. Traditional Chinese Medicine regards saffron as a tea. One or two threads in a cup of hot water acts to combat anxiety, depression and feelings of trepidation.
Nutmeg – enlightening
Scientific studies have shown that nutmeg possesses anti-bacterial, digestive and anti-inflammatory properties. A pinch of nutmeg makes hearty, high-fat dishes easier to digest.
Indian Ayurvedic medicine employs nutmeg to calm the nervous system and to relax the body.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, nutmeg promotes digestion, resolves food stagnation and warms the core. Due to its anti-inflammatory effects, nutmeg is also used as a remedy for joint inflammations, rheumatic illnesses, muscle inflammations and sprains. Nutmeg must be used carefully and in appropriate amounts, as it has a very intense aroma. In small quantities, nutmeg enhances dishes’ aromas – but it can spoil their taste if used excessively. An overdose, such as ingesting a whole nut, can trigger states of intoxication and even the symptoms of poisoning. Furthermore, nutmeg is not suitable for pregnant women, as it promotes menstruation. The spice loses its aroma when heated, so be sure to grate it fresh.