This winter season, when in search of natural remedies, you have only to look as far as your kitchen. As the dreaded cold and flu season makes its way into our homes, caught up with Karen Rose, owner and master herbalist at Sacred Vibes Apothecary in Brooklyn, New York, and discovered four healing spices you should always have on hand to combat the aches and pains Old Man Winter brings.


“Ginger is great for everything but especially digestive disturbances like indigestion, nausea and bloating,” says Rose.

This is because ginger is rich in inflammation-fighting compounds. It works in the digestive tract by boosting digestive juices and neutralizing acids as well as reducing intestinal contractions. It also alleviates nausea. A recent study found ginger to work just as well as Dramamine (dimenhydrinate) and other nausea medications, with the added benefit that it doesn’t make you sleepy. Ginger is also an effective short-term treatment for morning sickness and for fighting colds. Take it (in tablet, powder or natural form) before you think you might become nauseated; that’s when it works best.

“We all have access to it, so we should for sure incorporate it. Ginger tea is best way to get its benefits,” says Rose.

How to use:
 *Fresh Ginger slices: Julienne or slice fresh ginger, then add a fresh lime juice and little sea salt after your meal. It helps digestion.

*Ginger tea: Shred 1 to 2 inches of fresh ginger root in 2 cups of boiling water. Let it step for 8 to 12 minutes. Stain and cool.


Cayenne pepper is a hot red powder made from tropical chili peppers. It contains alkaloid capsaicin, which relieves pain by blocking the chemicals that send pain messages to the brain. It’s believed if you eat cayenne at the first sign of a headache, chasing it with a lot of water, it can be a holistic alternative. Rose raves about the benefits of cayenne. “Cayenne is an excellent anti-inflammatory, great for aches and pains in joints. Cayenne can be used as an oil or sprinkled on to everything we eat. It’s especially useful for those of us with colds hands and feet. Sprinkle a few grains into you socks to warm your feet all day long.”

Cayenne’s benefits don’t end there. Since it’s also a metabolism booster, cayenne acts as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. When eaten, the herb also thins phlegm and eases its passage from the lungs. So make sure to sprinkle some in your chicken soup to boost the traditional cold remedy. Since cayenne shrinks blood vessels in your nose and throat, it will relieve your congestion.

How to use:

Sprinkle on food to get a healthy healing kick of antioxidant and inflammatory properties.


Cinnamon is one of the most powerful healing spices. It’s famous for its ability to improve blood sugar in people with diabetes. Some of its natural compounds improve insulin function. “Cinnamon is a blood sugar balancer and cuts sugar cravings! A cup of cinnamon tea is great for afternoon or after-dinner sugar cravings,” says Rose.

How to use:

*Cinnamon tea: Add 1 cup boiling water to 1⁄2 to 1 tsp. of cinnamon powder. Steep for 10 to 12 minutes.


Sacred Vibes can’t leave out the popular stinky rose. “It’s a natural antibiotic and antifungal [spice],” Rose explains.

Smash a clove of garlic, and take it all in. That infamous odor comes from byproducts of allicin, the sulfur compound believed to be responsible for most of the spice’s medicinal benefits. It’s what gives garlic its bite. With its antibacterial and antifungal properties, garlic can help with yeast and sinus infections as well as the common cold. Research shows that garlic is also effective against digestive ailments and diarrhea. It helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure and prevent blood clots. Garlic can also reduce the risk of developing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and comes out smelling like a rose as a premier healing spice.

How to use:

*Garlic, Honey and Lemon Tea: Use 8-12 cloves of crushed and peeled garlic, simmered in two cups of water for 10 minutes. Strain. Add into the strained water juice one lemon and honey to taste.

For more information of healing herbs and their use contact Karin Rose, master herbalist and owner of Sacred Vibes Apothecary, at

By Crystal Whaley