For cultures around the world, spices and herbs are more than just flavorings for food: They’re part of a tradition. And in many places, the kitchen spice rack and the medicine cabinet are one and the same.

Many herbs and spices are prized not only for their role in traditional cuisine, but for their place in herbal medicine, as well.There is no shortage of herbs and spices to choose from — and each one comes with its own unique set of health benefits to offer, alongside its individual flavor profile.

Here are some of the most potent herbs and spices to keep on hand:

Studies show garlic can help support a strong immune system. In addition to warding off illnesses like cold and flu, scientists have found that consuming garlic can also help prevent cancer. In a study of women from Iowa, researchers found that those who ate the most garlic dropped their colon cancer risk by an astonishing 50 percent.

Ginger is an excellent pain reliever for people with arthritis or menstrual cramps. Healthline also suggests that recent research has linked ginger supplementation to a reduction in cancer risk.

No spice is more highly regarded for its health benefits than turmeric. Studies have demonstrated turmeric is capable of potent anticancer activity, and is also a powerful antioxidant with strong anti-inflammatory capabilities. Scientists even believe turmeric can help prevent Alzheimer’s.

There are many types of hot pepper: Crushed red pepper, cayenne, chili, just to name a few. Capsaicin is an odorless, colorless compound that makes peppers hot. But heat isn’t the only thing hot peppers are bringing to the table: Capsaicin is a powerful medicine. Science shows capsaicin actually helps promote healthy digestion. Studies have also shown that it can boost fat burning and reduce appetite — and some research also suggests capsaicin can help prevent some types of cancer.

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