9 Amazing Ayurveda Herbs and Spices with Health Benefits

Ayurveda spices and herbs benefits

The foundation of Ayurveda is its relationship with Ayurvedic spices and herbs. Ayurveda is an ancient health system based out of India that primarily focuses its effort on preventative medicine rather than cure. Although it does work in curing ailments too, the use of spices and herbs as a daily preventative practice is the primary focus of the Ayurvedic health system.

Of course that does not mean that Ayurveda focuses just on spices and herbs, but these are 2 of the main ingredients (pun intended) of the Ayurvedic Health system.

What are Ayurveda Spices and Herbs Used For?

Ayurveda spices and herbs are used to keep mind and body and even our subtle body, in check. The spices are used to balance what we call the elemental energies, that govern our minds and body. These elemental energies are combined in different ways to create our doshas. You can read more about doshas and what they mean, here. Ayurveda seeks to keep our doshas in perfect balance.

So while many can claim that every Ayurvedic spice and herb is good for everyone, that’s not true.

Ayurveda seeks to find the balance of your elemental energies, and it does that by carefully increasing or reducing the spices, herbs, and other therapies according to your specific doshic blueprint. Once that perfect balance is found, your body is on a path towards perfect health.

The fundamental belief about what we put into our bodies matters, comes from the pillar of Ayurveda that looks at digestion as the source of health or disease.

Ayurvedic practitioners will zone in on your digestive troubles to figure out the source of any illness or disease. And if you are just at the stage of digestive disturbances, Ayurveda spices and herbs should be your go to. You can nip that illness in the bud! However, if your disturbance has taken the form of a disease or illness, then seeking an Ayurvedic Doctor would be your best bet.

As mentioned above, not every spice and herb is good for everyone. So based on the list of Ayurvedic spices and herbs below, note a few things:

  • If you are a very “hot” person or get angry quickly – stay away from the hot spices below. Instead, opt for the cooler spices.
  • If you have no energy and feel down, slow and sluggish, opt for the hotter spices.

What are the Best Ayurveda Spices?

Now let’s see the 9 Ayurvedic herbs and spices that have health benefits you can reap today.

  • Cardamom
  • Fennel
  • Fresh Ginger
  • Cumin
  • Cinnamon
  • Coriander and Cilantro
  • Turmeric
  • Chili Peppers
  • Mint

1. Cardamom

Cardamom is a great spice that is warming to the body. This spice is best used for people who need a little more digestive power and a little more grounding in their life. While it is a “heating” spice that is said to increase your digestive fire or metabolism, its not the best spice if you really need to rev up your engines. It is only mildly heating. This spice is good for everyone. Spice up your chai, or add it when making curries and stir fry.

2. Fennel

Fennel is a sweetish cooling spice. I love using this spice in meat dishes as it helps cut the heat from the meat. You may not notice the heat dropping while eating, but this spice works after the fact within your digestive system. Add this to soups, meat dishes, and as an after meal mouth-refresher. This is also one of the 3 ingredients in Ayurveda’s CCF tea. It is also used a post digestive spice. For those who have been to an Indian restaurant, fennel seeds are usually kept at the hosts’ desk to chew on your way out. Buy this spice at your local Indian store and chew on it whenever you like. This is another spice that works well for everyone.

3. Fresh Ginger

Ginger is a root not a spice. However, it has similar properties as spices and is used in smaller quantities too. Ginger is a hot spice. This is one of those spices that you want to add to your cooking when you feel like your digestive fire is weak or sluggish. Rev up your engine by adding this to your desi chai, curry dishes, turmeric latte, ginger tea, CCF tea, and soups. Add this to pretty much anything. However, since this is a “hot” spice, do not add too much and cause yourself to over heat. Balance is key.

4. Cumin

Cumin is another hot spice. This spice is usually used whole in vegetable curries, and ground up in meat dishes. Other than spicing up those dishes, it can be added to your rice during the boil phase, to flavor it. Cumin is also used in the famous Ayurvedic Kitchari dish too. This also happens to be one of the 3 ingredients in the Ayurvedic CCF tea.

5. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a common spice that is used in the Western world. We see it being used in lattes, cookies, hot apple cider, that oh-so-yummy cinnamon roll, and much more. In the Ayurvedic world, cinnamon is a warm, sticky spice. It is best for those people who need a little more digestive heat or grounding in their life.

A person with anxiety for instance can use moderate to large quantities of cinnamon in their foods and drink until they feel more stable and are able to digest their food well. Spice up whatever you like with this spice. One thing to note is that most whole spices need to be roasted or cooked in with the meal. If you are just topping off a drink, you would get the added benefit of pre-roasted cinnamon powder.

6. Coriander or Cilantro Leaves

Coriander is a cooling spice. It is best for those who need to calm down and take a load off. The seeds themselves can be used in cooking, but if you’re like me, I cannot stand getting the seed in my mouth. I usually pre-roast them and grind them down to sprinkle into my cooking. This is the 3rd ingredient in CCF tea too. The leaves can be used to top off most curries and dishes and even sprinkled on everything from tacos, to sushi, to most anything. Fun fact – some people cannot stand cilantro leaves due to a soapy taste this gives off for them. I am glad I do not have that issue because I love to chew on the cilantro leaves like a goat. However, this is a PSA to be aware in case you’ve never tried it.

7. Turmeric

Turmeric is balanced spice. It’s not uncommon in recent years to hear about turmeric taking over the spice world. Indians have used this spice for eons without a second thought. The antibacterial properties themselves have a major role in why turmeric is the king of spice. This spice is good for everyone and should really be used in daily cooking. I use it in all my curries, dishes and I also have haldi-dood or turmeric milk when I feel sick or have a sore throat. Another fun use – I usually drop a pinch of turmeric on any cuts or bruises before bandaid-ing that sucker up. The antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties are a layer of protection for your open skin.

8. Chili Peppers

Chili peppers are a must have for anyone who feels ungrounded, lethargic, sluggish or slow. As you may have guessed by now, they are definitely not good for the hot headed, angry, intense person. That person should stay away from this spice altogether. And while a lot of people may not like chili peppers, another option if freshly ground black pepper. This helps boost your metabolic system to digest your food better.

9. Mint Leaves

Mint leaves are a cooling herb. They are used in a lot of dishes at the end of the cooking process to garnish the dish. You can also find it being used in mint teas, or Indian desi chai will have it dropped in at the end of the brewing process too. This is a good herb for hot or intense people. It helps to drop the energy of the person and (hopefully) balance them out. It can also be used as a mouth freshener. Keep a small plant growing on your window kitchen sill, and munch on a few leaves every day. Again, another herb I chew on like a goat.  

What Ayurveda Spices are Good for Digestion?

From what is listed above, you can see that all spices play a role in either cooling you down or increasing the fiery nature of your digestive process. So, ultimately all spices are good for digestion but only when used appropriately.

The difference is that not all spices are good for everyone’s digestion. You will have to evaluate yourself (or go to an Ayurvedic Counselor or Doctor) to get a food plan with a list of all the Ayurvedic spices and herbs that are good for you and only you. At best, use all spices in moderate quantity. When you notice a change in how your feel with your digestion or even mentally through the day, ask yourself what spices or herbs may help diffuse that situation.


I hope you were able to get a good comprehensive understanding of the Ayurvedic spices and herbs you need to add to your pantry. And while the list of spices and herbs are not comprehensive, these are the minimum spices and herbs that you need to start your Ayurveda journey to healing yourself.

So, what spices are you going to try?

Featured photo courtesy of unsplash.com

You May Also Like:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *