Nutmeg, clove and ginger – just the mere mention of these delectable spices is probably enough to get you pining for Thanksgiving. But did you know spices like these might offer a powerful assist in the overall protection of your gums? When it comes to combatting inflammation, a little bit of “this” and a little bit of “that” may add up to a lot of extra protection for your gums. Let’s read on …
How Herbs and Spices Can Help
When it comes to our mouths, if there is a common ailment that plagues us, it’s chronic inflammation that can lead to gum disease. In an effort to stop inflammation in its tracks, scientists have been exploring how certain herbs and spices might be used to help.
Of particular promise is how such discoveries may aid those dealing with tissue inflammation that is the result of pregnancy, hormone irregularities, or a response to medication or disease. Chronic inflammation of gum tissue is damaging to one’s oral health and to the stability and health of our teeth, so anything in addition to regular dental care that helps, is a good thing.
While most medical studies focus on concentrated topical applications, or the ingestion of supplements, the dietary community is focusing on the suggestion that the mere consumption of some of these ingredients can be of benefit. Please note: If you are consuming prescription medicine, of any sort, you must check with your doctor before adjusting your diet to include these spices. Some may interact with the efficacy of your medication.
So, with no further ado, here is a quick list of herbs and spices you can start experimenting with right away.
Inflammation Fighting Spices
- Turmeric: The more East meets West and medicines and food cultures mix, the more we continue to learn about the tremendous health benefits of turmeric. Used in Indian and Southeast Asian cooking, turmeric can be used in a variety of home cooking.
- Ginger: Whether you put it in a smoothie, dice it up in Asian food, or eat it in its oh-so-delicious crystallized form, ginger is one for the ages.
- Cloves: Can you say mulled cider? Or, how about a dash of ground clove in your next spice rub? Clove is well known as an anti-inflammatory, and has been used in dentistry for thousands of years.
- Sage: The flavor in this herb goes a long way. Try it in homemade rubs and sauces. You’ll also likely see sage in natural mouth rinses as it’s known for its astringent power and ability to reduce inflammation in gum tissue.
- Cayenne: Peppers! Add a little bit of spice to your cooking, and you’ll get more than just enhanced flavor. All hot peppers contain a substance called capsaicin. When a pepper comes in contact with tissues within the mouth, the contact of capsaicin with these tissues triggers the release of a chemical in the body known as “substance P.” Ordinarily, substance P. is released when tissues are damaged; it is part of the system the body uses to detect injury. But when hot peppers cause its release, they effectively trick the nervous system into thinking that an injury has occurred when there is no actual injury.
The result: a sensation of burning pain. Over time, however, substance P becomes depleted in that location, causing the familiar pain tolerance that fans of hot sauces enjoy. Capsaicin is often included in muscle and joint pain ointments for this same reason. Consuming cayenne can be particularly useful if you suffer from frequent cankers, or burning mouth syndrome.
Try out some of these beneficial herbs and spices in your cooking, and keep your dentist in the loop on any difference you notice in your oral and overall health!