Can common spices like Ginger and Cumin have medicinal benefits as well as adding a nice flavor to your cooking? (Photo by Michael Freeman).

LAKE MARY – Linda Hathaway is adamant in her advice to others who, like Hathaway herself, like the idea of using herbs, spices and natural remedies to boost the body’s immune system, rather than relying on anti-biotics and other medications.
“Don’t stop taking your regular medicine,” she said. That’s particularly true, she added, if the patient has a condition such as high blood pressure that would benefit from that prescribed medication.
On the other hand, Hathaway is a firm believer in educational information – particularly when it comes to spices that are easy to find in just about any cook’s home, and have far greater benefits than adding a touch of flavor to the pot roast.
“Cloves is something most people have in their homes,” Hathaway said. “It’s used in aroma therapy. It helps clear the lungs.”
So much so, she added, that spices can actually create the right aroma in a room, but in a natural way.
“I prefer the scent of natural spices over scented candles,” she said. “I don’t have any scented candles any more. I had asthma for years and got rid of the candles – and that got rid of the asthma.”
In addition to clearing the lungs, Hathaway said cloves have another benefit .
“The essential oils of cloves can be used to kill ants,” she said. “It can also be an insect repellent.”
Hathaway lives in Central Florida and is a member of the Orlando chapter of American Mensa, the largest and oldest high-IQ society in the world, for people who score at the 98th percentile or higher on Mensa’s intelligence admissions test.
Over this past weekend, the Central Florida Mensa hosted its “2012: Year of the Apocalypse” Regional Gathering at the Orlando Lake Mary Marriott in Lake Mary. It was a weekend designed for intellectual pursuits – an SET tournament, an original game of visual perception; a Scrabble tournament; a Rubik’s Cube speedcubing lecture; even a taco lunch.
During the weekend event, Hathaway gave a presentation on “Therapeutic spices,” with a focus on five common spices that people have in their kitchen – and their medicinal uses. As Hathaway noted, she loves to play in the kitchen and create aromatic spice blends for friends, family, and to sell. She is also a cancer survivor, and has long been interested in spices and herbs and their properties as they relate to health and well being. And these days, she added, there’s more information than ever before about ways to boost your health in a natural way.
“The Internet is a great source of information,” she said. “There are a lot of web sites out there for people who don’t want to take drugs and prefer natural remedies.”
Take, for example, cayenne pepper, she said. It does more than add a hot taste to a meal.
“It increases metabolism,” she said. “It is good for high blood pressure. It cleans out the arteries. It’s actually good for rebuilding tissues in the stomach. Hot stuff.”
Again good spice, she added, is ginger.
“Ginger is used for a lot of things,” she said. “It improves congestion, it stimulates circulation, and it relieves pain. It sharpens your senses, smell, taste and sharpens your mind. It has circulation-boosting properties.”
Tamarack is another household spice with medicinal purposes, she added.
“Tamarack is a natural anti-septic and natural healing agent,” she said. “You can get them at vitamin stores and health food stores in pill form.”
But keep in mind, she added, that using spices for health benefits or medicinal purposes is just one part of an overall healthy lifestyle that includes eating right, exercising, and taking care of yourself.
“Your metabolism is more your whole body, the way you process things,” she said. “It’s like a teenage boy and a teenage girl. A teenage boy can eat all he wants and he will burn it all off. A middle aged woman can eat the same things, and – wow, here you go.”

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