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Fresh herbs and spices may do more than enhance the flavor of food -- they may also aid with digestion and generally make diners feel better.

While Thai dishes taste great, at Coco Asian Bistro, they are also enhanced by fresh spices and herbs.  Below are some of the ingredients, that are found in Chef Mike's kitchen, and some details on their health benefits.

Chili (Phrik)

Chili contains capsaicin, a biologically active ingredient that is good for the respiratory system and the heart. Often used to aid digestion, this garnish and flavoring is also good for reducing blood pressure.

Cilantro (Coriander Leaves)

Cilantro is a key ingredient in spicy Thai dishes. It has a long history as a digestive aid, and contains an antibacterial component that may prove to be a safe, natural means of fighting Salmonella.

Cumin (Yi-ra)

Cumin is used as a flavoring and a condiment. This stimulant’s therapeutic properties also help with stomachaches.

Garlic (Kra-thiam)

Dried mature bulbs are used as a flavoring and a condiment in Thai cuisine. Garlic has many benefits -- it can serve as an antimicrobial, a diaphoretic, a diuretic, an expectorant, an antiflatulence remedy, and a cholesterol-lowering agent.

Ginger (Khing)

Ginger is used in different forms as a food, a flavoring, and a spice. Additionally, its therapeutic uses are as an antinauseant and an antiflatulence remedy.

Galanga (Kha)

Commonly used in Thai cooking as a flavoring, “kha” can help alleviate or prevent rheumatism, and it also contains antimicrobial agents.

Hoary Basil (Maeng-lak)

Hoary Basil is eaten either raw or used as a flavoring. It can help alleviate cough symptoms, and it can either prevent or reduce perspiration.

Kaffir (Ma-krut)

The leaves, peel, and juice of the Kaffir Lime are used as a flavoring in Thai cuisine. Its rind is believed to be good for the blood, while offering beneficial properties for the digestive system and for promoting gum health.

Lemon Grass (Ta-khrai)

Fresh leaves and grass are used as flavoring in many Thai dishes and soups. It can serve as a diuretic and as an antimicrobial agent, and some experts claim it prevents the flu.

Lime (Ma-nao)

Lime, which contains anti-inflammatory flavonoids, is used principally as a garnish for fish and meat dishes. It can suppress coughing, help prevent the flu, and settle the stomach.

Marsh Mint (Sa-ra-nae)

The fresh leaves of this plant are used as a flavoring and eaten raw in Thai cuisine. This herb can relieve flatulence and aid digestion.

Pepper (Phrik-Thai)

Pepper is used as a spice and a condiment. It can help relieve flatulence and prevent fever.

Sacred Basil (Ka-phrao)

Sacred Basil resembles Sweet Basil but has narrower and--oftentimes--reddish-purple leaves. The fresh leaves, which are used as a flavoring, can aid as an expectorant and as a reliever of a  stomachache.

Sweet Basil (Ho-ra-pha)

Sweet Basil is either eaten raw or used as a flavoring in Thai cooking. The leaves can serve as an expectorant, a digestant, and as a stomachic agent (improving stomach function and increasing appetite).

Turmeric (Kha-min)

Turmeric is a member of the ginger family. It provides yellow coloring, for Thai food, and serves as a natural immunity booster and a digestion stimulant.


Used as a flavoring, krachai can help relieve a stomachache, while serving as an anti-flatulence remedy.

Shallot (Hom, Hom-lek, Hom-daeng)

Shallots, or small red onions, are used as flavoring or seasoning agents. They can alleviate stomach discomfort, and can even help remove internal parasites. Additionally, shallots serve as an antidiarrheal, an expectorant, a diuretic, and an anti-flu agent.