(Last Updated on : 11/06/2012)
There is a popular belief that spicy foods are bad for health. This belief is not only far from the truth but also that; spices in fact have medicinal properties and are good for health. Spices are well known as appetizers and digestives and are considered essential in the culinary art all over the world.. Some of them have anti-oxidant properties, while others have preservative properties and are used in some foods like pickles and chutneys, etc. Some spices also possess strong anti-microbial and antibiotic activities. Many of them possess medicinal properties and have a profound effect on human health, since they affect many functional; processes. For example, spices intensify salivary flow and the secretion of amylase, neuraminic acid and hexosamines. They cleanse the oral cavity from food adhesion and bacteria; they may help to check infection, and to protect the mucous membrane against thermic, mechanical and chemical irritation. Spices increase the secretion of saliva rich in ptyalin, which facilitates starch digestion in the stomach, rendering the meals, which are rich in carbohydrates, more digestible.
Spices possibly activate the adrenal-cortical function and fortify resistance and physical capacity. Stroke volume, blood pressure and stroke frequency can be markedly diminished or augmented by means of spices. Spices inhibit thrombus formation and accelerate thrombolysis.
During World War I, and a few years after, India was principal supplier of essential oils like thymol, produced both with the help of traditional distillation methods as well as modern steam distillation methods. But the
market was lost forever due to invention of synthetic essential oils.