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Growth of immune boosting spices during the pandemic
Friday, 16 October, 2020, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Dr P A Raajeswari and S M Devatha
World Health Organization declared Coronavirus as pandemic on March 11, 2020, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), that  has infected and killed many people in all age groups worldwide.

According to WHO, around 80 per cent of the world’s population uses herbal medicines for primary health care, particularly across Europe and South Asia. Many research revealed, spices and herbs help to build up the body’s natural immunity. As the coronavirus continues to take toll, the demand for traditional spices that help boost immunity has substantially gone up.

Some of the Immune Boosting Spices
Immunity cannot be built up in a day, eating a balanced diet with the inclusion of immune boosters and being physically and mentally active is usually needed.

1.    Ginger
Gingerol, the bioactive compound in Ginger and in traditional medicine, it has been extensively used for curing colds and coughs, asthma, gastrointestinal complaints. It can be either taken as dried powder, juice or in tea.
2.    Turmeric
    Turmeric contains curcumin as bioactive compound, acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. Ayush recommended turmeric powder, grated ginger and basil are best immune booster when consumed daily.
3.    Garlic
Major civilisations, such as the Egyptians, Greeks, Babylonians and Chinese have been using garlic for medicinal purposes since ancient times. Allicin, a bioactive compound is released when garlic is crushed, chopped or cut into small pieces. A 12-week study found that, garlic (allicin) reduced common cold by 63 per cent.
4.    Cinnamon
    It is mostly used as a flavouring agent but it also helps to fight colds as an immune stimulator and prevents blood platelet clumping, inhibits inflammatory substances, and can regulate blood sugar. Cinnamaldehyde is also good immune-boosting antioxidant and can improve digestion.
5.    Cloves
    Eugenol, an important compound in cloves, can help to fight common cold or cough. Studies suggest that cloves help to provide instant relief as it soothes sore throats and reduces coughing fits.
6.    Black pepper
    Pepper acts as an excellent natural remedy for sinuses and nasal congestion, providing instant relief. Many researchers suggest that including more black pepper as whole, crushed or powdered in daily meals can improve overall health and strengthen body’s defence forces.
7.    Cardamom
The fragrant spices are in two forms, green and black. Black cardamom is the best remedy for common cold, cough and certain respiratory problems. It can be consumed as raw, pods in beverages or as oil extracted from cardamom.

These are some of the immunity-boosting spices which may help to boost a healthy immune system and fighting off infections. Statistics show nations with lower consumptions of spices per capita showed greater number of Covid-19 cases per million populations as herbs and spices are well-known immune boosters. It’s time to spice up your life.

Growth of Immune Boosting Spices during the Pandemic
Assocham has highlighted, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's observation on increasing use of spices in the world, after outbreak of Coronavirus, is borne out by a huge rise in exports of Indian spices, by 34 per cent in rupee and 23 per cent in dollar terms in June this year 2020.

India, known as the home of spices, has a long history of trading with the ancient civilisations of Rome and China. Today, Indian spices are the most sought-after globally, given their exquisite aroma, texture, taste and medicinal value. India has the largest domestic market for spices in the world.

Traditionally, spices in India have been grown in small land holdings, with organic farming gaining prominence in recent times. India is the world's largest producer, consumer and exporter of spices; the country produces about 75 out of the 109 varieties listed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and accounts for half of the global trading in spices.    

Consumers around the world are showing an increased interest in safeguarding their health and boosting their immunity. The spices with anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties are being used like never before by the people who are doing everything possible to prevent the infection. Many spices gone out of stock and some double in rate. The sale of dry ginger, clove, black pepper, cinnamon and turmeric among others has seen an increase since the outbreak of the virus.

Export Highlights and Key Markets
     (Source: Spices Board of India, APEDA)
?    In the financial year 2020, spices worth US$ 3.65 billion were exported.
?    During financial year 2019, a total of 1.10 million tonne of spices and spice products valued US$ 2.80 billion was exported from the country as against 1.02 million tonne valued US$ 2.78 billion in financial year 2018.
?    In financial year 20, ginger export showed the highest growth of 47 per cent with 19,410 tonne, followed by cardamom with 31 per cent at 1,060 tonne and cumin with 14 per cent at 7,350 tonne.
?    Top 10 importers of Indian spices were US, China, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Thailand, UK, UAE, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
?    Spices export value stood at US$ 3.65 billion in financial year 2020, witnessing a growth of 10 per cent year over year.
This increasing growth of immune boosting spices shows the increased consumption across the world in different forms like fresh, dried, powdered or as drinks with different combination of spices.
Immunity-boosting drinks with inclusion of some spices, herbs and antioxidants are available everywhere these days than ever before. As we begin to prioritise our health over anything else, there are a few things that we must keep in mind right now. We have to understand that when it comes to immunity, we must not trust everything we hear about. Taking pills and medicines without consulting an expert is not advisable.

(Raajeswari is assistant professor (SG) and Devatha is JRF, DST-SERB Project, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Avinashilingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education for Women, Coimbatore)
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