Peppermint for bloating – Peppermint -- Feeling bloated from all those rich holiday meals? Have a candy cane. Yes, really. A new study in the journal Pain confirms what naturopaths have long suspected: Peppermint can ease the intestinal distress. Researchers discovered that the mint activates an "anti-pain" mechanism that soothes inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. It doesn't take much to feel the benefit, just a small piece will do. For a sugar-free option, sip a cup of peppermint tea or try peppermint capsules sold in health-food stores.
Sage for your mind – Sage -- Health perk: A study in the journal Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior says this herb helps boost memory. Use it in: Holiday stuffings, soups, and pastas.
Cloves for anti-aging – Cloves -- Health perk: "Cloves have one of the highest antioxidant rankings of any spice," registered dietician Wendy Bazilian says. Use it in: Winter fruit salads, mulled wine or cider, and spicy curries.
Cinnamon for blood sugar – Cinnamon -- Health perk: One teaspoon daily can lower blood sugar levels, possibly helping to prevent or control diabetes, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found. Use it in: Fall squash soups, fruit chutney, and French toast.
Nutmeg for swelling – Nutmeg -- Health perk: This spice may have anti-inflammatory properties, notes a study in the Journal of Neuroimmunology. Use it in: Baked goods and eggnog.
Thyme for better breathing – Thyme -- Health perk: The antioxidants in thyme may alleviate respiratory ailments like bronchitis, according to studies, and keep you breathing easy even when you're not sick. Use it in: Roasted poultry and meats, and seafood.
Anise for digestion – Anise -- Health perk: "Use this to help with stomach issues -- it relaxes the gastrointestinal muscles," Bazilian says. Use it in: Poached fruit and pastries.