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The spice cabinet is by far my favorite part of the kitchen. The aroma of cinnamon and red peppers, the endless flavor combinations waiting to be discovered . . . I could go on for days.

DIY spice jars

Perhaps you remember all the great ways you can use vinegar around your home. You’ll quickly find that herbs and spices are no different, offering natural solutions for both you and your home. Plus, it’s likely you already have several of these super-spices at home – probably more than you know what to do with – making them a practically free cure-all.

The Spices

Cayenne Pepper: An easy to grow hot pepper great for adding a kick to any dish, cayenne pepper is a powerful sinus-cleanser (as many hot-sauce aficionados may know) and also great for getting rid of pests.

Cinnamon: One of the most commonly used spices, cinnamon smells good and is good for you.

Garlic: Garlic isn’t actually an herb or a spice, but a member of the lily family – making it kin to other bulbs like onions, shallots and chives. Besides its numerous uses in the kitchen, garlic can do everything from clear up acne to protect your pet from parasites.

Ginger: Ginger root has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes such as treating digestive problems or a nasty cold.

Ginseng: Like ginger, ginseng is harvested for its healing properties and can also help you feel more energetic.

Mint: The mint family actually covers a wide range of plants that includes basil, rosemary, oregano, thyme and sage. Mint is versatile and used in cleansers, can deter pests and can also soothe a tooth or tummy ache.

Other beneficial spices include – but certainly aren’t limited to – turmeric, parsley, saffron, nutmeg, cloves and countless others.

The Solutions

1. Boost your metabolism. Adding a steady flow of garlic, cayenne pepper, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric to your diet can rev your metabolism, aiding in weight loss.

2. Freshen your breath. Prepare for your date this Valentine’s Day by chewing on a couple of peppermint leaves or cinnamon sticks.

3. Get rid of that scar. Scars lighter than your natural skin color can be corrected by slicing a small sliver of ginger and rubbing it on the scar twice a day (do not rinse). Depending on the size of the scar, you should see a change within two to three weeks.

4. Repel ants. Ants can’t stand the pungent smell of many spices and herbs. Sprinkle a little cayenne or cinnamon on their paths. Stash bay leaves in your cupboards and cabinets to keep them ant-free.

5. Soothe a stomachache. Steep dried peppermint leaf in one cup of boiling water or boil slices of raw ginger for 10 to 20 minutes to make tea. The longer you steep or boil, the stronger the tea will be. Add honey, sugar or agave nectar and a squeeze of lime or lemon juice to taste.

6. Treat acne. A rub of raw garlic can help clear up pimples. When you’re done, lose the garlic smell with a sweet face mask: mix a tablespoon of cinnamon, honey and lemon juice to create a paste. If you have sensitive skin use more honey – too much cinnamon and lemon juice can cause a burning sensation.

7. Make potpourri. Arrange combinations of your favorite herbs and spices, like dried rosemary and cinnamon sticks, in a bowl or vase. If you want the smell but not an extra decoration, fill a small pot or pan with water and simmer the spices on low.

8. Detox. Fill a bath with hot water and half a cup of grated ginger or 1/4 cup of ground ginger. The ginger will cause your body to sweat, releasing harmful toxins. Stay in the tub for as long as you can take it, but not more than 20 minutes. Be careful: using too much ginger can cause you to sweat rapidly and can make you feel lightheaded – it can also burn if you have sensitive skin.

9. De-stress. Not looking to sweat? Experiment with other spices in the bathtub to relax after a long day. Make tea using some of the same spices for double-duty herbal therapy.

10. Get energized.  Try sipping on ginseng tea when you’re recovering from a cold or if you just need an extra boost.

11. Protect your pet. Keeping garlic in your pet’s food can keep away fleas, ticks and other parasites. Check your brand of pet food and make sure it contains dehydrated garlic or make homemade dog treats using garlic. Caution: garlic in small amounts is fine, but can be toxic in large amounts – eating several cloves at once can cause damage to your pet’s red blood cells.

12. Cure a toothache. Chewing on peppermint leaves or cloves not only fights bad breath, but can relieve toothache pain.

13. Make a sachet. Sachets filled with dried herbs can give any space a sweet aroma. Try tossing a sachet full of rosemary in the washing machine to keep clothes smelling fresh; hanging one in closet to repel moths; or give them away as cute gifts.

14. Keep critters out of your garden. Herbs are a natural pest-repellent, so planting mint, basil, sage and other strong, aromatic herbs can help control insects. For larger garden pests, like rabbits and squirrels, sprinkle cayenne pepper around the perimeter of your garden every few days or after a rain.

15. Say goodbye to bug bites. Fill a clean, empty spray bottle with one part vodka or vinegar to two parts water, and then add a spoonful of crushed peppermint, rosemary, thyme or sage. You can also use a few drops of an essential oil like peppermint or clove oil. Shake well and spritz on your body before going outdoors to keep mosquitoes at bay. The addition of mint is also the perfect refresher for a hot summer day!

What other ways do you add a little spice into your life? Tell us in the comments below and visit the links below for other ways to use spices and herbs in your home:
Creative Ways to Fight Pests
Herbal Home Remedies
Handmade Moth-Repellent Sachets
Make Your Own Garden Potpourri
Homemade Pet Food for Dogs, Cats and Birds
Peanut Butter Delight Dog Biscuits Recipe
How to Make Mulled Wine

FILED UNDER:

DIY, Gardening

10 Responses

  1. Lydia says:

    Thanks Jessica. Love this useful information.

  2. Farima@HGTV says:

    I didn't know ginger had so many uses, very cool.

  3. MRS says:

    Ginger roots are very good for kidney infections…tea.

  4. smac says:

    Before giving garlic to your pets please check with your vet. There has been some controversy in using garlic for the treatment of fleas. Some say it's great for the dog, others say it will cause organ damage & even death. Do your research.

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Jessica YonkerJessica Yonker is a writer for HGTV.com and a professional glitter handler in training. She loves decorating her friends' homes without their permission and practicing for her inevitable appearance on...

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