All of the herbs we keep in our kitchen impart additional flavor to home cooking and baking. But an often-overlooked aspect of culinary herbs is that many of them also come with potent health benefits.
Let’s take a deeper look at some popular culinary herbs that can play a role in helping to detoxify and cleanse the body of various toxins and substances.
A popular culinary herb, cilantro (sometimes referred to as Chinese parsley) boasts many health benefits including detoxification. With potent antioxidant properties, cilantro can help protect against oxidative stress and damage caused by free radicals in the body. It also supports liver function. The liver is considered by many to be the body’s main organ of detoxification.
There is also another area of detoxification that cilantro may be helpful in. A natural chelator, cilantro can aid in the removal of potentially dangerous heavy metals from the body.
In addition to its detox benefits, cilantro can protect and support heart, brain, bone, skin and eye health, act as a digestive aid, and help balance blood sugar levels. Additionally, some studies have shown that extracts of cilantro may have analgesic and anticancer properties, but more research is needed.1, 2
Nutritionally speaking, cilantro is a great source of vitamin K. It also provides good amounts of vitamins A and C, as-well-as smaller amounts of many other vitamins and minerals.3
A member of the allium family, which onions, garlic, leeks, and scallions also belong to, chives can add a boost of flavor to many dishes while helping detoxify your body.
Chives have a mild diuretic effect and are rich in antioxidants that help eliminate free radicals in the body. Some other advantages of eating chives include their anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties.4
As for their use, chives can be chopped and sprinkled on top of, or into, many dishes including chili, soup, baked potatoes, bread, pasta salad, and so much more.
Dandelions are often thought of as a weed and a nuisance. However, from the root to the flower they are edible and bear many health benefits, including detoxification. Dandelion and its constituents possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities which can have a variety of health benefits, according to ongoing research.5
The roots of dandelions are often touted for their detoxifying abilities, whether eaten whole or used as a tea. They are rich in antioxidants and are a source of antimicrobial compounds.6 They can help protect, support and improve liver function.
Dandelion roots contain a soluble fiber called inulin, which can aid digestion, relieve some digestive upsets, and feed beneficial gut bacteria. In addition, dandelion root extracts have been shown to have anti-cancer effects in multiple research studies.
Dandelion leaves can also enhance the body’s detoxification process. Like the roots they contain potent antioxidants and support healthy digestion. They can also act as a mild laxative and diuretic and boast liver protective benefits.
In one study, individuals with high-fat-diet induced fatty liver showed significantly suppressed fat accumulation in the liver and reduced insulin resistance with supplementation of dandelion leaf extract.7
Because of its distinct pungent flavor and natural heat, ginger is often considered to be a spice, though technically it is an herbaceous perennial. It is often used as a digestive aid because it can effectively reduce nausea and stomach aches, relieve gas, stimulate production of digestive juices, and relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract.8 Ginger is also used as a natural pain reliever.
This herb contains unique compounds called gingerols, which have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Additionally, ginger has antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal activities, adding to its effectiveness as a detoxifier.
Much like ginger, turmeric is frequently thought of as a spice. But did you know that it belongs to the same botanical family as ginger?
With a deep yellow color and distinct flavor, turmeric is hailed for its powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It has hepatoprotective properties, meaning that it can protect the liver against damage and potentially enhance its function. Turmeric can also help improve blood circulation and promote healthy immune function.
Curcumin is the main bioactive compound in turmeric. However, many research studies have shown that by itself curcumin has poor bioavailability. As such it is beneficial to ingest the whole turmeric root, fresh or dried, or consume curcumin along with black pepper or healthy fat to increase its bioavailability.9
In addition to detoxification, turmeric offers a wide range of health benefits due to its potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiarthritic, anticancer, anti-tumor, antimicrobial, neuroprotective, and analgesic properties.
Some of the additional benefits of turmeric include its ability to relieve arthritis symptoms, improve skin health, work as a natural pain killer, act as a digestive aid, help treat Alzheimer’s disease, reduce symptoms of depression, and protect against cancer and diabetes.10, 11
Parsley is a leafy green herb that is used fresh or dried in many recipes. It not only packs a punch of flavor, but it boasts a variety of health promoting benefits.
With a high antioxidant content, parsley has many disease-fighting benefits due to its ability to combat free radical damage and reduce inflammation in the body.12 Parsley has diuretic and hepatoprotective properties which can help with kidney detoxification and protect the liver, respectively.
Furthermore, according to a review done on the ethnopharmacology, phytochemistry and biological activities of parsley, it exhibited antioxidant, brain protective, anti-diabetic, analgesic, spasmolytic, immunosuppressant, anti-platelet, gastroprotective, cytoprotective, laxative, estrogenic, hypotensive, antibacterial and antifungal activities.13
In addition, it has shown chemoprotective benefits. Because of its beneficial properties, parsley can improve digestion, protect bone, eye, heart, and brain health, help balance blood sugar levels, bolster immune function, and even reduce bad breath.
Parsley is extremely rich in vitamin K, and also a great source of vitamins C and A, folate, iron, and copper.14
On Your Plate
In addition to other health promoting benefits, cilantro, chives, dandelions, ginger, turmeric, and parsley can all help detoxify your body. Whether added to a salad, thrown on a homemade pizza, or used to flavor a curry, it is well worth considering adding these super-herbs to your everyday diet.