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Dried herbs and spices contain nutrients that are concentrated, and can potentially help heal the body.
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Dried herbs and spices contain nutrients that are concentrated, and can potentially help heal the body.

Health, Seven Days, Dr. Mao, Santa Monica, Columnist, Food

Boost Immunity With This Spice & Herb Recipe: Dr. Mao's Wellness Living

Dr. Mao Shing Ni
Courtesy Photo
Dr. Mao Shing Ni

Posted Feb. 17, 2013, 8:27 am

Dr. Mao Shing Ni / Mirror Columnist

Winter may feel like the perfect time to hibernate from the cold – and potentially avoid catching one! However, you don’t have to hide with the bears to ensure you stay healthy this season. Ancient Chinese cultures have been using herbs and spices for both culinary and medicinal purposes to heal a wide array of ailments. It’s easy to make your own delicious blend or experiment with individual spices to boost your immunity and longevity all season long!

Immunity Spice/Herb Blend  

This blend will boost the strength of your immune system. Dried herbs and spices contain nutrients that are concentrated, and can potentially help heal the body. Best of all, you can easily make this blend yourself! There’s no need to measure these spices/herbs exactly, but I recommend using equal amounts of each spice in dried and ground forms. You can grind up your herbs and spices with a mortar and pestle or take the quick approach by grinding in a coffee grinder (that you only use for grinding spices). After grinding, store the blended spice powder in an airtight, glass jar in a cool place to protect the volatile oils for six months up to a year.

• ground star anise

• dried basil

• dried oregano

• dried cilantro

• garlic powder

• onion powder

• dried thyme

When you feel in need of an immune zoom, add this blend to your meals just as you are finishing cooking the dish – about one minute before you turn off the heat. You can add to your soups, stir-frys, fish and veggie dishes, and bean and grain dishes.

Spotlight On Three Immunity-Enhancing Herbs

1. Star Anise

If you are a fan of licorice, then you will love the flavor of star anise. Shaped like an eight-pointed star, this medicinal herb is native to tropical and subtropical areas of China and Vietnam, and often used to flavor dishes in Chinese and Indian cuisine. Traditionally, star anise is used to treat digestive issues such as abdominal cramps, bloating, and constipation. A strong and healthy digestive system equals a healthy immune system. In fact, in its natural form, star anise is thought to help the body’s immune system fight off the flu.

Word to the wise: Take care to get the right spice. Star anise should absolutely not be confused with the toxic Japanese star anise. Star anise is also different than regular “anise,” so do your homework.

2. Basil

Often used in Italian cuisine, this fragrant herb is delicious in just about any dish. As a fresh herb, basil may be mixed into your favorite raw salads or sandwiches. However, don’t neglect to incorporate dried basil into your food, as it contains a trove of nutrients and a punch of flavor. Dried basil is chockfull of the antioxidant beta-carotene, vitamin B6, magnesium, iron, calcium, and vitamin C. Basil also has potent anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which are important especially during cold and flu season. Sprinkle some dried basil into your favorite soup, stew, or casserole to give a boost to both your taste buds and immune system!

3. Oregano

Known for its abundant use in Mediterranean cooking, oregano is featured prominently in the sauces and salads of Greek and Italian cuisines. But it’s more than just a delicious seasoning! Oregano’s health benefits include high levels of antioxidants as well as antimicrobial properties. It is traditionally used to benefit the digestive and respiratory systems, improve circulation for cold hands and feet, aid restful sleep, and to build immunity.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He has recently appeared on “The Ricki Lake Show,” “Dr. Oz,” and contributes to Yahoo Health and The Huffington Post.  Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition, and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica, Newport Beach, and Pasadena. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni, founded the Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago in addition to founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey.  To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at contact@taoofwellness.com. To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter please visit www.taoofwellness.com.

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