3

votes

Dried Spices - should they be eliminated completely?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 02, 2012 at 10:40 PM

Hi All,

I've recently discovered (thanks to this awesome site) that nightshades such as sweet peppers, red chili powder, or curry powder for that matter have been causing me to have headaches and arthritic symptoms!

I'm wondering if it is best to completely give up most dried spices that I use regularly which don't contain nightshades (basil, garlic, etc), even though I use a good amount of fresh herbs as well.

Can anyone advise whether this would be recommended for someone who has allergies to dairy, nightshades, gluten, etc. I'd like for my diet to be as clean as possible, but am not sure if the effect of dried (non-nightshade) spices is very significant (I use maybe 1-2 tsp's per meal).

For the last few months I've been eating very clean while using about 1 tsp of curry powder & 1/2 tsp of red chili powder on each of my meals, but am not sure how this may be affecting my body, in ways which I may not immediately notice.

Thanks so much for any advice!

75bf87379aa119821e3f6f4115f1145a

(224)

on December 31, 2012
at 06:28 PM

great question - not sure about wheat in salt, but i know wheat is used in certain indian spices (asafoetida) to make the spice less "sticky" and more powder like. higher quality brands may use rice flour instead, but personally i'll avoid any spices which have these kinds of additives.

8e403031cae4272bac5c25c40446daaf

(176)

on August 04, 2012
at 08:54 AM

Could be that one of those spices is increasing your stomach acidity and therefore your iron absorbtion.

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on August 04, 2012
at 01:04 AM

Thanks Rob. I don't have joint pain or headaches but my diet didn't change much and I dont supplement iron. I actually investigated a bit as to whether or not turmeric, cloves and astaxanthin are high in iron (they are not). I likley was eating a bit more beef than previous. Likley my absorption has improved. THANKS

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 03, 2012
at 01:11 PM

^Well of course! :)

8e403031cae4272bac5c25c40446daaf

(176)

on August 03, 2012
at 09:01 AM

I'm not so sure if it would happen with high iron foods. But if your ferritin is high then its possible that the spices are chelating that iron allowing it to re-distribute in the body and cause temporary joint pains and headaches. You would also find it happening with other foods though, coffee for one would cause the same thing.

Eed7dabde3d61910685845e04605267f

(2934)

on August 03, 2012
at 08:19 AM

Perhaps there aren't many studies because Big Pharma can't patent basil like it can other 'medicinal' substances...

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 03, 2012
at 04:34 AM

As a side note, clove has a mild opiate effect (as does myrrh, frankincense, menthol and some others). This makes it a quite effective topical analgesic for tooth ache.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 03, 2012
at 04:33 AM

As a side note, clove has a mild opiate effect (as does myrrh, frankincense, menthol and some others). This makes an effective topical analgesic for tooth ache.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 03, 2012
at 04:32 AM

As a side note, clove has a mild opiate effect (as does myrrh, frankincense, menthol and some others). This makes it an excellent topical analgesic for tooth ache.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 03, 2012
at 04:24 AM

They are certain interesting compounds, but they are not well represented by food marketers, or benefit orientated studies. 1 other thing I discovered in my research is that many flavanols (one type of polyphenols) are often FAAH inhibitors. Thats the enzyme that metabolises endocannabinoids. That is to say, some of these "anti-oxidants" also effect the brain. As you may see, its alot more complex than these many chemical plant complexs possessing single positive qualities like "anti-cancer" or "anti-inflammation". Its a complex and mixed bag of effects, one we dont really understand fully.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 03, 2012
at 04:18 AM

I am not sure about the theory, and also have some of my own theories, however what is clear is that: At high doses polyphenols are actually cancer causing, its only at low-moderate food types doses that they lower incidence of cancer. In vivo, they are cleared rapidly by the liver (very rapidly, like toxin speeds) and unlike say, q10, uric acid etc, they do not appear to act as anti-oxidants in vivo. Some also appear to have some effects modulating blood sugar, which may correlate to their presence in fruits and berries (my vague theory ATM).

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 03, 2012
at 04:15 AM

Kurt Harris talks about polyphenols (commonly known as plant anti-oxidants, but not proven to be such at all). He theorizes that to correlation between moderate polyphenol intake and less cancer is a product of hormesis, because at high doses polyphenols actually cause cancer ie its the body getting fitter at dealing with carcinogens through stress, much like exercise.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 03, 2012
at 03:27 AM

Its questionable whether polyphenols are truely anti-oxidants at all, they dont act that way in vivo, according to studies...

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 03, 2012
at 03:27 AM

I am sure they have other properties. Most bioactive plant complexes do. I am not saying dont use bioactive plants, I am just saying its worth some thought especially for food usage. I _personally_ find garlic, and chilli to be horrible for digestion, quite pro-inflammatory gut wise, and tumeric and cinnamon seem to alter your glucose management. That said, those same properties, or cluster of properties might be quite good for specific illnesses. With plants, the positive is always emphasized.

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on August 03, 2012
at 03:02 AM

I meant to say that I do not take any iron supps.

7b9b5de13a30c823dae64a971cb14add

(540)

on August 03, 2012
at 03:01 AM

related to this, i have seen many spices in grinders (last one I noticed was trader joe's pink himalayan sea salt) that list wheat products. some of their blends have gluten as well. WHY WOULD THERE BE WHEAT IN SALT??

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on August 03, 2012
at 03:01 AM

Rob do you think this can happen with iron from food too, like beef? I ask because my ferritin was always too low (15-25) and then I started taking a lot of spices in not just food but capsules and my iron and ferritin when really high.

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on August 03, 2012
at 02:59 AM

not sure about scientific evidence but it has for me and several family members and friends. A healthy gut can handle a lot. All that stomach acid etc....

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on August 03, 2012
at 02:57 AM

the connection is most likely the gut.

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on August 03, 2012
at 02:51 AM

Hmmmmmm I am beginning to see a connection between autoimmune problems and fungus...

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on August 03, 2012
at 02:51 AM

Is there evidence that the healing of the leaky gut persists after the reintroduction of foods that had previously irritated?

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on August 03, 2012
at 02:37 AM

Exactly. Many of the highest anti-oxidant (and thus anti-inflammatory) foods are spices like clove, turmeric, cinnamon)

0408fb6c082971b0559503b77eb9483c

(308)

on August 03, 2012
at 02:26 AM

yeah, I have family history with mold allergies. I can sort of track where spices come from by how bad it is. Canned food was the real killer for me, though. Some brands you could watch me break out from the (presumably dead) mold spores

8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

(6244)

on August 03, 2012
at 02:15 AM

dried spices more then 6 months old can be moldy and cause inflammation, also make sure they are not cross-contaminated with gluten (wheat, barley, rye, etcl)! My husband didn't have joint pain but had to give up nightshades (including dried spices) for a year, heal his gut, and then was able to reintroduce them due to GI inflammation. We used primarily Italian spices (oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme) and I had to make Asian and Indian spice mixes like curry, garam masala, stc. from scratch (find a recipe online and just eliminate the chili peppers although black pepper is okay).

C0c839648b31512515daaffe8e4e9ad1

(468)

on August 03, 2012
at 01:51 AM

What about the fact that all those spices are supposed to be anti-inflammatory?

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on August 02, 2012
at 11:23 PM

As an arthritic (RA and OA), I am wondering the exact same thing.

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6 Answers

2
A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on August 03, 2012
at 12:00 AM

I have a relative who gave up all dried spices on account of some sort of fungal contamination. I think it was aflatoxin, and according to her, it's ubiquitous in dried spices, and for sensitive people, causes lots of inflammation. I'd never experienced nor heard of this, but can easily imagine it's true, after learning about all the other things people can be sensitive to.

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on August 03, 2012
at 02:57 AM

the connection is most likely the gut.

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on August 03, 2012
at 02:51 AM

Hmmmmmm I am beginning to see a connection between autoimmune problems and fungus...

0408fb6c082971b0559503b77eb9483c

(308)

on August 03, 2012
at 02:26 AM

yeah, I have family history with mold allergies. I can sort of track where spices come from by how bad it is. Canned food was the real killer for me, though. Some brands you could watch me break out from the (presumably dead) mold spores

2
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 02, 2012
at 11:05 PM

Eliminate for 30 days, reintroduce one at a time and see how you do. I'd be really surprised if mild curry were an issue for most people and if it is a problem you can have a tasty curry with a home-blended curry powder without hot chiles. Just go heavy on black pepper, ginger and garlic...

2
8e403031cae4272bac5c25c40446daaf

(176)

on August 02, 2012
at 10:47 PM

On a related note, do you take Iron supplements? as spices tend to be quite good at chelating (binding too) excess iron in the body - which you would have if you took iron regularly.

I am allergic to spices - not sure which exactly, but the reaction is quite strong so its possible you've developed an allergy too.

Anyhow, if its significant enough to cause you noticeable symptoms then its worthwhile avoiding it.

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on August 03, 2012
at 03:02 AM

I meant to say that I do not take any iron supps.

8e403031cae4272bac5c25c40446daaf

(176)

on August 03, 2012
at 09:01 AM

I'm not so sure if it would happen with high iron foods. But if your ferritin is high then its possible that the spices are chelating that iron allowing it to re-distribute in the body and cause temporary joint pains and headaches. You would also find it happening with other foods though, coffee for one would cause the same thing.

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on August 03, 2012
at 03:01 AM

Rob do you think this can happen with iron from food too, like beef? I ask because my ferritin was always too low (15-25) and then I started taking a lot of spices in not just food but capsules and my iron and ferritin when really high.

8e403031cae4272bac5c25c40446daaf

(176)

on August 04, 2012
at 08:54 AM

Could be that one of those spices is increasing your stomach acidity and therefore your iron absorbtion.

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on August 04, 2012
at 01:04 AM

Thanks Rob. I don't have joint pain or headaches but my diet didn't change much and I dont supplement iron. I actually investigated a bit as to whether or not turmeric, cloves and astaxanthin are high in iron (they are not). I likley was eating a bit more beef than previous. Likley my absorption has improved. THANKS

1
4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

on August 03, 2012
at 02:43 AM

My advice would be to heal your (most likely) Leaky Gut so you can tolerate these things and also benefit from their anti-oxidant/anti-inflammatory properties.

I have heard here that you can heal leaky gut with diet alone. I personally used diet along with "medicine" (PermaVite) and did before and after treatment, GI Permeability testing.

The testing is interesting but likely not necessary. Given what you describe, its highly likely you have Leaky Gut.

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on August 03, 2012
at 02:51 AM

Is there evidence that the healing of the leaky gut persists after the reintroduction of foods that had previously irritated?

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on August 03, 2012
at 02:59 AM

not sure about scientific evidence but it has for me and several family members and friends. A healthy gut can handle a lot. All that stomach acid etc....

1
0408fb6c082971b0559503b77eb9483c

on August 03, 2012
at 02:29 AM

nightshades are right up on the list with gluten grains, dairy, and soy in what yu need to try in elimination diets.

Remember that it can often also be systemic- additive. the peppers themselves could be fine, but when mixed with moldy drywall, bad air, and other environmental/dietary autoimmune triggers you reach a cascade point where things go badly.

1
Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 03, 2012
at 01:04 AM

I think its well worth a go myself!

I just had a horrible reaction to some cinnamon and tumeric, and although that was most likely an interaction with a drug I was on, its taught me that we probably underestimate the health effects of common herbs and spices.

I doubt, myself, they would have been commonly used as flavouring in paleo times (although likely as medicine).

Fortunately there are ways to make food taste food without them.

Jus, or stock can be used to flavour stuff, sea salt can, whole foods like cranberry, honey, lemon, tomato, lime and things like coconut cream/milk, nut butters etc, cheese if you do cheese, can all make things tasty, and slow cooking/roasting is the king of beefing up the taste of meat (plus it makes it more digestable).

I am discovering that spices are really not all that nessasary to make really tasty food, myself.

I still may use the odd occasional bit of basil or mint, and perhaps investigate which herbs and spices have the least medicinal effects or weird contents, investigate there contents on a individual case by case basis etc.

I think thats the key, theres no real "families" of herbs and spices, and they mostly all have some medical effects, so its really something thats a bit of a one by one. I think the ones that are well known for more potent physical effects, like pepper, chilli, garlic, tumeric, cinnamon, black/green tea are probably the ones more likely to be personally problematic or have more profound effects on your health long term (positive or negative, or both).

Of course equally those plants could have mostly positive impacts on your health, particularly certain ones with certain health conditions, but I personally now beleive the chemistry, in terms of how they effect your body, is sufficiently complex that it merits some consideration, whether you consume them or not.

Its also worth considering what bioactive herbs you consume with any synthetic medications (and the medications too of course). The interactions of these things are not well documented.

Personally, I think as a whole, i will endevour to flavour my foods with other foods, cooking technique, and on things found in other foods. And I enjoy learning new cooking skills too, so that will be part of the journey.

Chilli activates something called the vannilin receptor (sp), which essentially emulates the bodies natural response to being physically burned. What effect that has on your health I can only guess and what else may be in it, is also beyond me.

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on August 03, 2012
at 02:37 AM

Exactly. Many of the highest anti-oxidant (and thus anti-inflammatory) foods are spices like clove, turmeric, cinnamon)

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 03, 2012
at 03:27 AM

Its questionable whether polyphenols are truely anti-oxidants at all, they dont act that way in vivo, according to studies...

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 03, 2012
at 04:34 AM

As a side note, clove has a mild opiate effect (as does myrrh, frankincense, menthol and some others). This makes it a quite effective topical analgesic for tooth ache.

C0c839648b31512515daaffe8e4e9ad1

(468)

on August 03, 2012
at 01:51 AM

What about the fact that all those spices are supposed to be anti-inflammatory?

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 03, 2012
at 04:32 AM

As a side note, clove has a mild opiate effect (as does myrrh, frankincense, menthol and some others). This makes it an excellent topical analgesic for tooth ache.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 03, 2012
at 04:24 AM

They are certain interesting compounds, but they are not well represented by food marketers, or benefit orientated studies. 1 other thing I discovered in my research is that many flavanols (one type of polyphenols) are often FAAH inhibitors. Thats the enzyme that metabolises endocannabinoids. That is to say, some of these "anti-oxidants" also effect the brain. As you may see, its alot more complex than these many chemical plant complexs possessing single positive qualities like "anti-cancer" or "anti-inflammation". Its a complex and mixed bag of effects, one we dont really understand fully.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 03, 2012
at 01:11 PM

^Well of course! :)

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 03, 2012
at 04:15 AM

Kurt Harris talks about polyphenols (commonly known as plant anti-oxidants, but not proven to be such at all). He theorizes that to correlation between moderate polyphenol intake and less cancer is a product of hormesis, because at high doses polyphenols actually cause cancer ie its the body getting fitter at dealing with carcinogens through stress, much like exercise.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 03, 2012
at 03:27 AM

I am sure they have other properties. Most bioactive plant complexes do. I am not saying dont use bioactive plants, I am just saying its worth some thought especially for food usage. I _personally_ find garlic, and chilli to be horrible for digestion, quite pro-inflammatory gut wise, and tumeric and cinnamon seem to alter your glucose management. That said, those same properties, or cluster of properties might be quite good for specific illnesses. With plants, the positive is always emphasized.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 03, 2012
at 04:33 AM

As a side note, clove has a mild opiate effect (as does myrrh, frankincense, menthol and some others). This makes an effective topical analgesic for tooth ache.

Eed7dabde3d61910685845e04605267f

(2934)

on August 03, 2012
at 08:19 AM

Perhaps there aren't many studies because Big Pharma can't patent basil like it can other 'medicinal' substances...

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on August 03, 2012
at 04:18 AM

I am not sure about the theory, and also have some of my own theories, however what is clear is that: At high doses polyphenols are actually cancer causing, its only at low-moderate food types doses that they lower incidence of cancer. In vivo, they are cleared rapidly by the liver (very rapidly, like toxin speeds) and unlike say, q10, uric acid etc, they do not appear to act as anti-oxidants in vivo. Some also appear to have some effects modulating blood sugar, which may correlate to their presence in fruits and berries (my vague theory ATM).

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