Dear Pharmacist,

I ate like a hog over the holiday, and it was wonderful! To spare my guilt, are there any benefits to holiday foods and spices?

--D. E. Orlando, Florida

Answer:Don't worry about it, we all shamed ourselves! Your saving grace is that all those delicious spices have numerous medicinal benefits, and I'd keep sprinkling and cooking with them all year long.

Nutmeg can ease indigestion, great, since you ate two sweet potato pies in one sitting! Nutmeg kills bacteria that causes bad breath, woo hoo! By killing off some nasty intestinal bacteria, there may be less flatulence. It causes some people to get sleepy, so sprinkle some into a warm cup of almond milk before bed!

Ginger may help prevent colon and ovarian cancer. It seems to help with morning sickness, motion sickness, chronic fatigue, asthma, erectile dysfunction, heartburn, menstrual cramps, and even the common cold. Ginger is most famous for it's anti-nausea effect, as well as it's ability to ease arthritis over time because it's a potent anti-inflammatory.

Cinnamon may improve cholesterol ratios, and in particular, lower LDL cholesterol and help stabilize blood sugar (great for type 2 diabetes). When you balance blood sugar, you control appetite so of course this translates to possible weight loss, so long as the rest of your diet is the color of a rainbow. Your brain loves cinnamon as much as your taste buds meaning your memory and brain function could improve. Cinnamon, like nutmeg, has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.

Cloves may very well be the strongest antioxidant known to man. In high enough quantities, compounds in cloves reduce iron. This is good if you have hemochromatosis. Cloves may help with diarrhea, intestinal parasites, thyroid problems, infections and lymphoma. Essential oil of clove oil may relieve pain, if you apply it to a toothache.

Pumpkin, something that my husband Sam puts in many of his famous smoothies, contains fiber, some antioxidants (like vitamin A, C and E) and B vitamins which improve the appearance of skin, and reduce wrinkles. Nutrients in pumpkin can reduce risk of macular degeneration, thus protecting your eyesight. Pumpkins (and the seeds) are great sex aids. If you think about it, all that zinc supports prostate health, and that's great for men tracking sperm count (for fertility concerns), and men seeking a higher sex drive. I won't mislead you, it doesn't work like Viagra.

Maple syrup, my favorite, is a great substitute for sugar and it's just natural tree sap. It has fewer calories and it's more nutrient dense than many other sweeteners because it has 54 different antioxidants, including one powerful one called "quebecol" named for where it was discovered. Even though it tastes sweet, some of maple syrup's compound lower blood sugar, and protect our DNA (which could reduce risk of runaway cells and cancer). Honey is another fabulous sweetener loaded with health benefits which is a yummy way to soothe chapped lips.

Suzy Cohen

Suzy Cohen, is known as America’s Pharmacist. She has been a licensed pharmacist for 24 years and is a Functional Medicine practitioner. She’s the author of 6 books, including her most recent Amazon #1 best-seller, “Thyroid Healthy: Lose Weight, Look Beautiful and Live the Life You Imagine.”

She was the host of The Thyroid Summit which broadcast worldwide in June 2014. Suzy has been a syndicated columnist for 19 years reaching 20 million in circulation each week. She is a Huffington Post writer, and also hosts her own syndicated medical minute on TV. Suzy has been featured on The Dr OZ Show 6 times, and has appeared on The View, Good Morning America Health, The Doctors and hundreds of other networks. She is a member of The Institute of Functional Medicine, also the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, The American Pharmacists Association and ILADS, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. You can read free articles and receive your free newsletter by visiting her website,

Books authored by Suzy Cohen include:

  • Thyroid Healthy
  • Headache Free
  • Drug Muggers
  • Diabetes Without Drugs
  • The 24-Hour Pharmacist
  • Eczema: Itchin’ for a Cure (kindle only)
  • Understanding Pancreatitis & Pancreatic Cancer (kindle only)