Boost your Immune System, Part II

By Parul Kharod

Last month we talked about general immunity tips. This month let's open the treasure chest we all have in our kitchen – our spice box!

The spices we use in daily cooking have compounds that are known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties. All spices have various degrees of antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

As we have learned, the coronavirus attacks the respiratory system. Here are a few spices and recipes that help with sore throat and cough and inflammation.

Turmeric (Haldi): Turmeric has the longest list of benefits. Curcumin is the active compound in turmeric. Research suggests that for better bioavailability or curcumin, it is best to consume black pepper with turmeric.

• Helps lower blood glucose, triglyceride, fatty acid, cholesterol and liver fat
• Help heal the pain, swelling and inflammation associated with ligament injuries
• Aid in the treatment of bacterial and viral infections
• Cleanses and nourishes the skin to retain its elasticity
• Helps to aid the digestive tract to absorb nutrients and normalize metabolism
• Helps with wound healing
• Guards your stomach by destroying fungus, viruses and bacteria that can cause food poisoning, diarrhea and other diseases
• Remedy for inflammatory conditions like arthritis, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis - studies show that the highly bioavailable form of curcumin in fresh, raw turmeric is more effective than the anti-inflammatory drugs available for rheumatoid arthritis.
• Good source of iron
• May protect against and slow down progression of multiple sclerosis
• May help prevent Alzheimer's disease
• Help relieve chronic digestive issues such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), colitis, Crohn's disease, diarrhea, food poisoning; also reduces the itching and inflammation from hemorrhoids
• Helps remove bad (LDL)cholesterol from the body
• Prevents cancer cells from spreading and growing into tumors
• Relieves inflammation of the air ways and prevents asthma.

Cayenne Pepper (Lal Mirch):

• Capsaicin, the active ingredient found in cayenne peppers, helps lower inflammation and pain in joints and muscles
• Helps with weight loss by increasing metabolism and suppressing cravings for salt and sugar
• Opens airways and acts as a decongestant
• May help balance blood sugars
• Improves blood flow (circulation), and help lower blood pressure

Cumin (Jeera):

• Aids in digestion
• Boosts the immune system
• Treats skin disorders
• Fights cancer
• Treats respiratory problems

Fenugreek (Methi):

• Lowers Cholesterol
• Balances blood sugars
• Heals mouth ulcers
• Eliminates dandruff
• Heals stomach disorders
• Relieves sore throat
• Eases menstrual discomfort
• Increases breast milk

Black Pepper (Mari/Kali Mirch):

• Improved oral health
• Relief from indigestion and constipation
• Treatment of respiratory disorders
• Treatment for ear aches, gangrene, hernias, and tooth decay

Ginger (Sonth):

• High in gingerol, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
• Relieves nausea
• Reduces muscle pain
• Lowers blood sugar & cholesterol
• Prevents cancer & Alzheimer's

Cloves (Laving/Long):

• Treats tooth decay and halitosis
• Improves digestion
• Strengthens the immune system
• Prevents headaches

Cinnamon (Taj/Dalchini):

• Reduces Insulin Resistance
• Lowers LDL cholesterol
• Antifungal, Anti-viral Antibacterial, and Anti-inflammatory properties
• Prevents cancer & Alzheimer's


Turmeric Herbal Tea

Helps with lowering inflammation

• 1 cup organic turmeric powder (haldar/haldi)
• 1/2 cup finely ground fenugreek seeds (methi)
• 1/2 - 3/4 cup dried ginger powder (soonth)
• 1 tablespoon ground black pepper (mari)

Method: Mix everything well in a bowl and store in a jar.

To use - Every morning:

• Add 1 heaping teaspoon of this mix to a mug of water. Boil for a minute and serve.
• Microwave method – Put 1 tsp. turmeric mix in a mug, fill the mug with water, microwave for 1 ½ - 2 minutes.
• Squeeze in fresh lime juice.
• Drink this first when you wake up (before eating or drinking anything else).
• Have breakfast 30 minutes after this herbal tea.

Lemon and Ginger Infusion with Turmeric and Cayenne

A sore throat/cough remedy

Recipe - makes 2-2 ½ servings

• 4 slices of lemon
• 1 tablespoon minced ginger
• 2 cloves
• 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
• 2 ½ cups boiling water
• 2 teaspoons honey
• Pinch of cayenne (red chili powder)


1. Place the lemon slices, ginger, cloves, and turmeric in a large measuring cup or teapot
2. Pour on the boiling water
3. Stir in the honey
4. Cover and let steep for 30 minutes
5. Strain and reheat if desired but do not boil
6. Just before serving add a tiny pinch of cayenne
7. Stir and drink 1 cup at a time


Packed with phytochemicals, this is an uplifting immune boosting remedy

Recipe makes 3 cups

• ½ cup Tulsi leaves
• ½ cup Mint leaves
• ½ cup Lemon Grass (Indian green tea)
• ½ cup curry leaves
• 2 inch piece ginger root
• 2 teaspoons turmeric
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
• 6 teaspoons lemon juice
• 6 teaspoons honey
• salt to taste (you can substitute black salt if you wish)


1. Wash all herbs. Peel and slice the ginger
2. In a mortar/pestle crush lightly all the leaves and ginger together
3. Boil 3 cups of water
4. Add the crushed leaves and ginger. Add turmeric and black pepper.
5. Boil for a couple of minutes, then strain
6. Stir in honey, lemon juice, and salt
7. Drink warm

Note: If fresh herbs are not available, you can substitute one teaspoon of their dry powdered form.

Parul Kharod, MS, RD, LDN is a registered dietitian and licensed nutritionist and works as a Clinical Dietitian with Outpatient Nutrition Services at WakeMed Hospital in Cary and Raleigh. She can be reached at