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How Cooking With Herbs Could Benefit Your Health

Growing up, I watched my mother cook with traditional European spices – parsley on the baked chicken, garlic in the mashed potatoes and cinnamon in the coffee cake.  Although I still use the same herb staples from my childhood, I now smoke my salmon with rosemary, sprinkle fresh mint on my yogurt and put ginger in my version of chai tea.  And, like traditional chicken soup for a cold, food has always been medicine.  In a nod to past and present, here are a couple of my favorite immune boosting warming herbs going into winter:

Daily Detox Many of my clients report drinking a daily cleansing concoction of cayenne, black pepper, ginger and honey in either apple cider vinegar or hot water. Others have substituted garlic, turmeric, cinnamon and agave in place of other ingredients. If you’re brave enough to face the cold, you might be brave enough to try this warming drink – even if you do have to hold your nose.

Garlic Typically used in Italian cuisine, garlic was a favorite of the ancient Egyptians. The effects of aged garlic have been widely studied for various types of cancers – a 2001 study suggested that garlic can suppress the specific immune response associated with tumor growth(1). A 10 month study found that aged garlic improves cardiovascular health by reducing the mechanisms that cause high cholesterol and high blood pressure(2).

Cinnamon Found in my sweet potato and pumpkin soup, cinnamon used to be a gift fit for a king. A 2013 study on cinnamon extract found that is has potential as an anti-allergic therapy because it decreased the mast cell response in mice(3). And, cinnamon polyphenol extract can affect immune response by anti- and pro-inflammatory and glucose transporter expression(4). So feeling under the weather may actually be a good excuse to indulge in a sweet cinnamon treat.

Ginger Popular in Asian cuisine, the versatile ginger is much more than a palate cleanser with your sushi. It was concluded that ginger (and turmeric) increases one’s defenses against opportunistic infections when fed to immunocompromised mice(5). 2011 preclinical studies found ginger to ameliorate the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation and inhibit the growth of cancer cells(6). I'd call that one powerful spice!

Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or syndrome. It should not be used as a substitute for appropriate medical treatment by a qualified practitioner.


  1. Enhanced immunocompetence by garlic: role in bladder cancer and other malignancies. J Nutr. 2001 Mar;131(3s):1067S-70S. Review. PubMed PMID: 11238818.
  2. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol 31 (6): 904–8. doi:10.1097/00005344-199806000-00014PMID 9641475.
  3. Cinnamon extract inhibits degranulation and de novo synthesis of inflammatory mediators in mast cells. Allergy. 2013 Apr;68(4):490-7. doi: 10.1111/all.12122. Epub 2013 Feb 15. PubMed PMID: 23409834.
  4. Cinnamon polyphenol extract affects immune responses by regulating anti- and proinflammatory and glucose transporter gene expression in mouse macrophages. J Nutr. 2008 May;138(5):833-40. PubMed PMID: 18424588.

Corinne Kohrherr

Corinne Kohrherr, MS, LAc, LMT, Herbalist, is a licensed acupuncturist, licensed massage therapist, board certified herbalist and DONA certified childbirth doula.  She is trained in the Chinese and trigger point models of acupuncture and specializes in muscle injuries, pain conditions, infertility, pediatrics and the promotion of healthy pregnancies. 

Corinne has completed externships at Callen-Lorde Community Health Center and NYU Medical Center’s Rusk Institute of Rehabilitative Medicine and fellowship at Beth Israel Medical Center.  Her practice, Akoya Acupuncture, is located in New York City and suburban Pennsylvania.

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