The next time you have a small injury or ailment, you might want to check out your pantry before heading to the medicine cabinet or first aid kit! Did you know that many of the ingredients and spices used in Thai and other cuisines have medicinal and other natural health benefits? Of course, we are not medical doctors and you should always consult with your physician before using our information for alternative medicine.

Cumin (ยี่หร่า)
Need to settle a restless stomach? Cumin seeds are commonly offered in German and other restaurants much in the same way that mint candies are offered at the end of a meal. This is because Cumin seeds contain chemicals which help the digestive system and prevent gas buildup in the stomach. It’s can also also been said to help with insomnia, respiratory disorders and the common cold.
Cayenne (พริกป่น)
Got a cut on your finger? Put Cayenne Pepper Powder onto your wound. Sounds crazy right? Naturally, you’d think it would burn like crazy! Surprisingly, it doesn’t hurt at all and not only can the powder help stop the bleeding, but cayenne pepper is also said to possess anti-fungal and anti-bacterial capabilities. Due to the chemical properties of a substance called capsaicin found in the peppers, it has been used as an ingredient in ointments for various wounds and cuts. Cayenne peppers are also known to stimulate the digestive process, lowers the level of cholesterol, and kill many of the bacteria that cause diarrhea.
Cloves (กานพลู)
Can’t get to the dentist for your toothache? Cloves help to reduce toothaches because of a powerful essential oil found in cloves called eugenol, which is often used in dentistry due to it analgesic, local anesthetic, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects. It is sometimes used in the form of a paste as dental cement, filler and restorative material. The natural oil of the clove is also a natural mosquito repellant and can give protection against mosquitoes for 4-5 hours, very handy if you ever visit Thailand during rainy season!
Garlic (กระเทียม)
Garlic isn’t just for warding off vampires! In fact, it contains a substance which, when chewed, chopped or crushed, provides antibiotic benefits - Garlic has 1% of the potency of penicillin and can ward off a number of bacteria such as Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli, and Staphylococcus. Garlic also helps prevent blood coagulation and is said to help control cholesterol levels, reduces high blood pressure and lower sugar levels in the body. In addition, garlic will help resisting and preventing cancer. So you can see why garlic is considered a “cure all” by many alternative medicine practitioners. And if you’re worried about any bad breath and other negative side effects of garlic’s strong smell - there are odorless garlic supplements. Of course, we wouldn’t recommend substituting real garlic for the odorless variety in your favorite Thai dish!
Ginger (ขิง)
Need to calm an upset stomach, soothe nausea or stop diarrhea? Try ginger! In fact, the “volatile oils” (gingerols and shogaols) that give ginger its spicy and pungent taste stimulate your body to produce the digestive juices that help neutralize the stomach acids that can cause cramping, nausea and diarrhea. Ginger has also been used to help relieve menstrual cramps, treat the common cold and ease headaches. And next time you have a cough or sore throat, try adding a little ginger and honey to hot water - ginger helps stimulate the secretion of mucus, which will help to quiet a cough and sooth your throat!
Parsley (ผักชีฝรั่ง)
Don’t let the decoration on your plate go unused! Chewing parsley not only helps freshen up your breath but it’s a powerful antioxidant rich in Luteolin and vitamins A, C and K. So it’s great for your immune system and also a healthy heart - the Vitamin B9 in Parsley helps to convert homocysteine, an amino acid that occurs in the body and threatens blood vessels when levels get too high, into harmless molecules. So before your waiter takes your plate away, be sure to grab the parsley!
Papaya (มะละกอ)
A Thai meal wouldn’t be complete without a papaya salad, or Som Tam, and who doesn’t love a fresh green papaya salad? But did you know that other parts of the papaya can be used to help relieve pain and swelling? Just roast the leaves and then apply them to the irritated area. Ripened papaya is not only delicious but rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, calcium, and most importantly, beta-carotene. So eating papaya is not just great for your internal health, but will help lead to healthier skin as well.