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Spice Up Your Life: Ball State Study on Spices as Alt Medicines

A published report says half of people in the Midwest are at least willing to consider it.

MUNCIE, Ind.--The Spice Girls sang about spicing up your life in 1997. Now students at Ball State are saying you may be open to doing just that-using ethnic spices as medicine, and as a way to live a healthier life.

The study was published in the peer review journal "Health Promotion Perspectives", and says 51 percent of people in the Midwest are open to using ethnic spices and want to know more about the potential health benefits.

The study also found that 48 percent of the participants were interested in learning about health benefits of spices while 50 percent indicated friends and family members were sources of information on spices. 

“Spices cost significantly lower and are more accessible, without the risky side effects as compared to their common counterparts—drugs and pharmaceuticals,” said Isbill. 

Of the options given in the study, people in the Midwest use black pepper and garlic most, but are least familiar with curry leaves and fenugreek.  

"I got into medicine in general because of my mom's Crohn's Disease and having an interest in trying to help her," said Isbill. "So, we tried to implement some herbs and spices into our own home when I was in high school, whenever I really started to dive into it."

Isbill said he's been looking into how other countries treat chronic diseases, countries where people can't afford pharmaceuticals. 

"Implementing the hot spicy foods, the chili peppers, the cayenne, paprika into their diet, will help with their metabolism, open up their air ways. Research points to cinnamon helping moderate blood glucose control and garlic with cardiovascular disease."

Isbill said if you're one of the half of Midwesterners who are willing to try spices as an alternative, you should experiment and see what works best for you.

Regarding perceived effectiveness of using spices for health promotion:

  • 64 percent believed ginger could promote good health and wellness
  • 58 percent believed garlic could promote good health and wellness
  • 56 percent believed cinnamon could promote good health and wellness

PHOTO: Thinjkstock/Karandaev

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