Spices are most commonly used to enhance the flavor of food, but they can also be used as remedies and in aromatherapy. Some make effective insect repellents or can deodorize potent smells.
Cooking spices make useful remedies for common aches and pains. Capsaicin, the chemical found in peppers, is often used on the skin to relieve muscle pain. Coriander can be mixed with water to form a paste and applied to sore joints or any area afflicted with arthritis. Cinnamon is also used topically for both headaches and toothaches.
Spices such as rosemary, cinnamon, clove and thyme can be mixed with melted wax to produce aromatherapy candles. For an easier aromatherapy approach, wrap orange peel, cinnamon sticks,\ and whole cloves into a piece of cheese cloth, and place it in a pot. Fill the pot with water, and bring it to a boil to release a smell reminiscent of freshly baked cookies.
Some spices are natural, eco-friendly alternatives to commercial insect repellents. Bay leaves, sage, oregano, pepper and cinnamon can be placed in drawers insects frequent. Rosemary, cloves and peppermint are also effective repellents.
Some spices provide efficient ways to eliminate unpleasant odors. They can be placed into sachets and slipped into musty drawers and even eliminate the smell of burnt popcorn. To do this, place a cup of water in a bowl with a few shakes of a favorite spice. Allow it to boil, and then let it sit for at least 10 minutes. Clean the walls of the microwave and enjoy the fresh, spicy scent.