By Cheryl Hoard


Since ancient times the months of December and January have been thought of as “cold time” or “stay at home time.” We know these months as holiday time and they can also be thought of as a time of withdrawal and renewal. Certain spices are traditionally used during these months.

Some of the earliest recorded spices were Cinnamon and Cassia, a close cousin to Cinnamon. At the time of some of the earliest records, it is thought hardened gums and resins like Bdellium, Balsam, Myrrh and Frankincense were burned for their pleasant fragrance. Unpleasant odors were thought to be evil, while clean, beautiful scents were associated with purity and goodness.

From this belief a demand was established for these aromatics to be used ceremoniously to please the ancient gods and banish evil spirits, insects, pests and snakes. Exotic spices, Oriental medicinals and aromatics were much a part of European life by the 11th and 12th centuries.

The essential oils in some spices like caraway, increase bile flow which is thought to be essential to proper fat digestion. Cinnamon, Clove, Garlic, Oregano and Sage are known for their germicidal properties, ability to improve cardiovascular function and antioxidant benefits. Antioxidants are often mentioned these days because they help the body protect itself against free radicals that provoke aging, heart disease and cause the development of cancer cells. In any case, spices make food more attractive and if there are some gentle health benefits from them, well that’s great too!

Here’s a list of some “Holiday spices and aromatics” and their use in everyday life:

Cardamon: use it in place of Cinnamon, add to coffee.

Cinnamon: take the powder or in capsule form like a medicinal herb for heart and blood health.

Clove: keep the essential oil around the house for toothache remedy.

Evergreens: Fir, Pine & Spruce Essential Oils – drops on bottom of feet daily to support immune system, blends made with these oils for chest rubs or muscle & joint applications.

Frankincense Essential Oil: use diluted in blends for skin care, inhale for managing stress and creating more mental, emotional, & spiritual balance.

Ginger: take powder, extract or use in capsule form for heart and blood health, joint, digestive problems and colds & flu.

Myrrh: use the extract or essential oil for healthier mouth and gums.

Orange Essential Oil: make orange flavored honey to use in teas, baking and cooking.

Cheryl Hoard, owner of Cheryl’s Herbs, America’s Favorite Herb Store, is internationally recognized as a national leader in elevating the standards of Aromatherapy use and education. Cheryl was a contributing author for Llewellyn’s 2009 Herbal Almanac. Cheryl’s Herbs is located in Maplewood, 7170 Manchester Rd., Ste. A, 314-645-2165 or visit www.cherylsherbs.com.