Irritants: Spices, Herbs and Hot Peppers
Monday, December 7, 2009 at 10:00AM
Mike Dillman in Raw diet tips, blog, diet, health, herbs, hot, irritate, nutrition, peppers, raw, raw-vegan, spices, vegan

In the Middle Ages, spices were one of the most luxurious products in the world, and possessing them was a sign of great wealth.  Entire European city-states built their economies around the spice trade with Asia and Africa.  The search for spices prompted the quests of such famous explorers as Vasco de Gama and Christopher Columbus, and led to the discovery of the western world. 

Today, while not commanding quite the same level of excitement, spices are still very popular.   They’re used to flavor most of the foods we’ve become accustomed to, the world over.

The there are many, many herbs and spices out there, but some common ones include garlic, onion, mustard, black pepper, hot peppers, nutmeg, basil, oregano, and chives.   

Spices and herbs aren’t foods

Our bodies can’t handle them when eaten alone in significant quantities.  The spices get rejected because our taste receptors are trained to recognize the poisonous substances they contain.  They’re only palatable when diluted into other foods.  When we use them this way, it tricks our bodies and perverts our tastes, leading to a false sense of appetite.  The variety of flavors leads to us to eat more than we normally would, or to eat when not even hungry at all.  This overeating eventually leads to weight gain and many related health concerns.

When we eat a strong spice, such as onions, garlic, or hot peppers, our body reacts by increasing the saliva, tears, and mucous into overdrive.  This is an attempt to dilute and flush the toxins.  After ingesting them, we feel a warming sensation.

Many people like eating spicy foods to feel warmer in the winter, to cleanse the body, or promote healing.  However, they’re confused about what’s actually occurring.  What the spices are doing is attacking the body and causing a defensive action.  This is the body’s fight/flight response kicking in to combat the invasive poisons.  Much like drinking alcohol, eating spicy foods to warm up doesn’t achieve anything.  It actually wears the body down, meaning we’ll feel colder than ever once the effects wear off.

As the herbs and spices pass through the digestive system, they irritate the bowels.  This can kill the beneficial bacteria that are necessary for digestion.  Losing these bacteria leads to digestive impairment and nutritional deficiencies.  Irritating the intestines can also lead to irritable bowel syndrome, and/or stomach cancer.

Eventually our body expels the toxins, using every method available at its disposal.  This causes significant body odor, bad breath, and sometimes itchiness and rashes.  The fact that our bodies work so hard to expel these substances shows how toxic they really are.

So what exactly am I saying here?  Should we swear entirely off all spices and herbs?

Yes and no.  I wouldn’t worry much about the majority of the milder herbs and spices.  I don’t often use any myself, but if you don’t want to part with your basil, dill, oregano and cinnamon, don’t fret about it.  They certainly aren’t a big deal.

Just understand that herbs and spices aren’t foods.  If you can’t eat a handful of something without your body fervently rejecting it, there’s obviously a reason for it.

I do recommend that you generally stay away from the stronger spices though.  Limit your use of onions, chives, radishes and garlic, and pretty much stay away from hot peppers completely. 

Your body will thank you for it.


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Mike Dillman is a self-taught raw-vegan who began his journey nearly five years ago.   Having worked his way through all the challenges firsthand, he wants to save you from making the same mistakes yourself.  You can visit Mike's blog at to learn how easy it can be to make a raw-vegan diet fit your busy lifestyle.

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