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From olden days, the intake of proper food has been considered as the first medicine for maintaining good health as it consists of all the nutrients as well as the necessary healing items. However, in the modern times that consist of processed, irradiated, homogenized and genetically modified and engineered food, maintenance of proper diet is itself a huge challenge. Moreover, the addition of preservatives, artificial flavouring, colours, and different harmful additives can further do more harm than good to the public health. Hence, people are switching over to organic foods and foods that were eaten in olden days with natural spices and without any additives to achieve good health.

The use of culinary herbs and spices in the diet was integral to the diet, which has been long forgotten by the present generation, which relies on junk food and readily available ready-to-eat food that are easy on pocket and require minimal or no labour for preparation. Hence, the emergence of various diseases including metabolic disorders, food poisoning, and poor immunity are becoming widely prevalent. The inclusion of different herbs and spices not only adds flavour, variety, aroma, and colour to the foods but also has a big contribution of essential nutrients and bioactive substances leading to health improvement. They also have the added advantage of enhancing the beneficial properties of other components present in the food.

Different herbs and spices are also being used in medicinal therapy, as they are an essential component of most of the drugs given in prescription. Modern tools and techniques of physiology are being used for the elucidation of different underlying mechanisms for the justification of the use of spices as flavours, digestives, secretagogues, antiflatulents, and in constipation and diarrhoea influencing gastrointestinal secretions and motility, secretions of liver and pancreas, various processes involved in absorption, and bacterial microflora.

The phytoestrogens and phytoprogestins that were extracted from some of the herbs and spices were tested for their relative capacity to bind to the receptors of estradiol (ER) and progesterone (PR) in intact breast cancer cells of human competing with estradiol and progesterone acting as their agonists and antagonists in vivo. Some of the them are listed below:

a) Highest ER-binding herbs consumed are turmeric, soy, licorice, thyme, red clover, verbena, hops, etc.
b) Highest PR-binding herbs consumed are turmeric, red clover, and thyme.

Some of the herbs and spices have been shown to have many pharmacological aspects and can be used as an alternative therapy for various fatal diseases like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, etc. Below is the list of some of the herbs and spices that contain different pharmacologically important compounds:

a) The phenolic compounds extracted from different edible plants (e.g. Nigerian spices and herbs) have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties as well as act as free radical scavangers thus helping in acting as antioxidants. They were also found to reduce the development of atherosclerosis by affecting the oxidation of the LDL- cholesterol..

b) Garlic contains diallyl sulphides that are associated with the lowering of cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. It also contains geraniol and other monoterpenes that were found to have antiproliferative properties in human colon cancer cell lines.

c) Clove bud oil has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties and can be effective as antibacterial, insecticidal, and antifungal agent.

d) Presence of eugenol in different essential oils from different herbs and spices has antimicrobial property apart from other beneficial biological actions.

e) Curry leaves have been found to have significant hypoglycaemic action in rat models.

f) The compound piperine in black pepper enhances the absorption of different structurally different drugs thus increasing their bioavailability by altering the dynamics of membrane lipids as well as the conformation of intestinal enzymes. It has also been found to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects apart from anti-peptic ulcer activity.

g) Ginger has been found to have antithrombotic, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial activities. It is also used as an antihypertensive agent or tranquilizer due to the presence of gingerol and also in treating peptic ulcers.

h) Tamarind is used for the treatment of different liver and bile disorders.

i) Turmeric has been found to be active against different chronic ailments such as cardiovascular diseases, inflammatory disorders, cancer, etc.

j) Onion and its juice have been used for the treatment of blood vessel related diseases, digestive disturbances as well as asthmas and diabetes.

In this way, it can be seen that spices produce a number of diverse compounds, which have multitude of functions in the biological mechanisms within the body. Hence, the inclusion of various spices in the diet is essential for good health.