Synergy

Pepper and citric acid play special roles as synergists. "Citric acid potentiates the antibacterial effects of other spices, because low pH disrupts bacterial cell membranes" (Sherman and Billing, 1999). "Black pepper comes from Piper nigrum, an exclusively tropical plant which has several useful properties. For example, the compound piperine inhibits the ubiquitous, deadly bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Black pepper is also a 'bioavailability enhancer,' meaning that it acts synergistically to increase the rate at which cells, including microorganisms, absorb phytotoxins" (Sherman and Billing, 1999). Khan and Balick (2001) note that tamarind increased bioavailabilty of other drugs, including, I presume, herbal.

Many spices are more potent when mixed. French "quatre epices" (pepper, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg) is often used to make sausages and may in fact make the sausage last longer. Curry powder (which contains 22 different spices), pickling spice (15 spices), and chili powder (10 spices) are broad-spectrum "antimicrobial melanges" (Sherman and Billing, 1999). Andrews (1995) elaborates on this spice called curry. Originating in India, curry is a combination of freshly ground spices, principally chili pepper, with as few as 5 or as many as 50 spice ingredients. Slightly roasted ground chillis are powdered and mixed in with ground turmeric (for color) and adding coriander, along with other spices, alphabetically, allspice, anise, bay, caraway, cardamom, celeryseed, cinnamon, cloves, cubeb, curry leaf, dill, fennel, fenugreek (both leaves and seeds), garlic, ginger, juniper, mace, mint, mustard, nutmeg, pepper (both black and white), poppyseed, saffron, sumac, zedoary, not to mention salt. Andrews lists a simpler chile powder, a blend of several peppers, with garlic powder, oregano, cumin, cayenne and paprika, garlic (Andrews, 1995).

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