A Natural Mosquito Repellent – Citronella Oil

Citronella & Cedar Wood Body Spray

Although most people love warmer weather, it does have one serious downside – mosquitoes. Not only are they an irritant, leading to itchiness and other allergic reactions, they can carry serious diseases, including malaria, dengue, and the newly discovered zika virus. So it’s important to avoid being bitten but that’s not as easy as it sounds. Mosquitoes have been around a lot longer than human beings and they have an exceptional sense of smell for such a small creature. They can detect a potential target from 30 metres away and so one of the best defences is to become “invisible” to them by changing your chemical signature.

Citronella aromatic candle

They are attracted by the carbon dioxide that human beings breathe out and the larger you are, the more carbon dioxide you will exhale. This goes for pregnant women, too, who often report that they are bitten more frequently than usual. Mosquitoes can also detect blood type, and people with Type O blood are twice as liable to be bitten as people with Type A. If you’re sweating a lot, or drinking beer, you’re also more likely to be attacked. You can spray yourself with artificial chemicals in the hope of deterring them but a better idea is to use a natural plant-based insect repellent – citronella oil. It’s an essential oil obtained from the leaves and stems of lemongrass. It’s effective but it’s also non-toxic and so safe for humans and pets to put directly on the skin.


Pure Citronella & Cedar Wood Burner Oil

As well as being an anti-fungal, and effective at calming barking, anxious dogs, citronella masks the smell of carbon dioxide and perspiration that attracts mosquitoes. It comes in a variety of forms: candles, incense sticks, coils, oils (for use in oil burners), and sprays. Canadian researchers found that lighting a citronella candle reduced the number of mosquito landings by nearly half. Most people find that a combination of citronella products works best. Use the personal sprays if you fall into one of the higher risk categories above in conjunction with the coils, the oils, or the candles.


Think about your environment as well and make sure that your garden is well maintained, with no standing water where mosquitoes can lay their eggs. If you put saucers under your flower-pots, make sure that there’s no stagnant water lurking in them. If you enjoy fresh flowers in your home, change the water every couple of days.

You can purchase a variety of high quality citronella products from the Tropical Spice Garden’s two shops in Penang as well as online.

Home-style Health: A series of Traditional Medicine Methods

As an unofficial representative of Generation Y, I can safely say that we grew up having our parents and grandparents brewing all sorts of soups and tonics for us to swallow when we feel a little under the weather. Much to our dismay, of course, as we rather much prefer the quick fixes that the little pills provide. Besides, the soups and tonics don’t always taste very nice!

What we don’t realise is that these drugs only treat the symptoms but not the disease or actual ailment. Painkillers may dull our migraines and that little twinge in our knees but continuous intake causes a buildup of the drug in our bodies that may last up to several years! I used to take an alarming amount of painkillers every month for my severe period cramps until I realised that my dosages will keep on increasing over the years unless I do something about it. From exercising to limiting my intake of cold drinks, from swallowing peppercorns whole to heat pads, nothing seemed to stop me from feeling like I’m on the brink of death every month.

Add in the fact that I always roll my eyes at my grandmother’s pantang larang such as don’t wash your hair during the first day of your period (or for a whole month during confinement after childbirth), or eat more ginger because your body is ‘cold’. I didn’t understand these taboos and refused to believe or acknowledge any well-meaning advice if it isn’t explained scientifically.



Traditional medicine is the sum total of the knowledge, skills, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures, whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness -WHO

If you are just as cynical as I am, or have an interest in traditional medicine and want to know more, or are just confused over various versions of old wives’ tales, do join in this series of workshops where you’ll find answers to those questions. Enjoy a special flat rate of RM90/pax when you sign up for all three sessions and if you’re bringing a child below twelve years old, they’ll enjoy the kids’ rate of RM15/pax.

Each workshop will focus on methods employed by three different cultures so it’ll be an intriguing affair to compare the differences and similarities in Chinese, Indian, and Malay traditional medicine. These workshops will be quite hands-on where we’ll make some herbal bath sachets, get some tips (maybe secret recipes?) for treating anything from acne to rheumatism, learn the history and reasons behind the taboos, and how to maintain good health in various environments – from struggling under a heavy workload, to understanding the regulations during childbirth confinement, to rushing during festive seasons…everything-lah!




T: 04-8811797 (ext 311) | 012-4988797

E: education@tropicalspicegarden.com

Recipe : Golden Turmeric Latkes

  • 2 cups shredded peeled russet potatoesgolden turmeric latkes
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 fresh green Serrano chiles, stemmed and finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided


  • Thoroughly mix potatoes, onion, chiles to taste, cilantro, flour, cumin, salt, turmeric and eggs in a large bowl.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat.
  • Place a heaping tablespoon of the potato mixture in the skillet and flatten with a spatula into a disk roughly 3 inches in diameter. Form as many latkes as you can in the pan without overcrowding.
  • l Cook until golden brown and crispy on the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until the other side is golden brown and crispy, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • l Briefly drain on a paper towel-lined plate, then transfer to the oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining oil and potato mixture.


How to Use Turmeric

Healthy eating is one of the key ways to maintain good health, do not overlook the importance of spices. Head over to your spice rack to add more interest in your food and to supercharge the health benefits of the food you’re eating.

Turmeric has a unique flavour and can range from fairly mild (white turmeric and turmeric from the Anders) to slightly bitter and astringent like the yellow Indian turmeric found in curry powder. The great news is that you can improve its taste by blending it with other spices such as cinnamon, black pepper, nutmeg and ginger. Turmeric pairs well with almost any spice. Mixing it with black pepper will enhance absorption of curcumin found in turmeric as stated in “The Health Benefits of Turmeric”

Store ground turmeric in a dark cool cabinet or spice rack. Keep away from direct sunlight which can damage the natural oils and pigment. For the fresh root, it is best to keep them in an air-tight container. First layer the bottom of the container with clean, dry paper towels. Arrange one layer of roots, cove them with another paper towel. Repeat the process until the container is filled and closed. Keep refrigerate, changing the paper towels as they become damp. This is to keep the roots from molding.



The Health Benefit of Turmeric


Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its yellow colour. It has been used in India as a spice and medicinal herb for thousands of years. Turmeric has been used by the ancient Ayurveda as a curative panacea, and to this day the yogis eat turmeric and even bathe in it!


The health benefits of turmeric are well documented. In fact in recent years several compelling studies have been made on obesity in animal trials and diabetes in small human trials. Turmeric is astringent in nature and it is this prize quality that ‘draws out’ poison and infection in the body. Ayurveda considers turmeric to be purifying for both the skin and blood. From medical studies it has been shown that it has anti-inflammatory properties (inflammation is the root of many health problems) and increases the anti-oxidant capacity in our bodies.


However it must be said that how well the benefits of turmeric works, depends also on the general health of the individual and his or her diet. There is no overnight cure or rather improvement in your health. What you eat in your daily diet is important and exercise always helps.


Recently science has shown, what the Indians have known for a long time. Turmeric realy down contain medicinal compounds called curcuminiods, the most important of which is curcumin. Curcumin (not to be with cumin)is the main active ingredients. It has anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. It continues to fascinate the medical community because of its multi-faceted curative benefits. From boosting your memory, to helping your body recover from neurodegenrative diseases like Alzhemir’s and even getting rid of ulcers in animal trial studies


However it must said that the curcumin content of turmeric is not that high. Most of the studies on turmeric are using turmeric extracts that contain mostl curcumin itself. For best effect the dosages usually exceeds 1 gram a day. It would be very difficult to reach these levels just using turmeric spice in your foods. Having said that, if it is in your diet and you generally health, the benefits of using turmeric in your food is there. Therefore you want to get the full effects, then you will need to take an extract that contains significant amounts of curcumin. Curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream.

However it will help; if consumed with black pepper, which contains piperine, a natural substance that enhances the absorption of curcummin by 2000%.


Heart disease is the biggest killer in the world. Curcumin may help reverse many steps in the heart disease process. Several studies suggest that curcummin leads to improvements of the function of the endothelium, which is the lining of the blood vessels. Endothelium regulates blood pressure, blood clotting and various other factors.


It is potent anti-flammatory agent and antioxidant of curcumin that improves the function of the endothelium. As stated above earlier, watching your diet of consuming excessive fats is also key to your health. After all “prevention is better than cure”.


Given the believe that oxidation and inflammation play a role in ageing, the curcumin in turmeric has become very popular in anti-aging supplement!


Source of informaion: GreenMedInfo & Authoritynutrition.com

How to Make Your Own Pure & Liquid Stevia

Stevia Powder


Stevia is fast replacing sugar and the sweetener that is becoming popular. There are a lot of packaged stevia for sale in the stores today. However we recommend that you make your own pure and liquid stevia from the stevia leaves.


  • Dried stevia leaves
  • 1 cup of hot filtered water
  • ¼ cup of pure grounded stevia (this is needed to make liquid stevia)


  • Grind the stevia leaves in a food processor or better yet a coffee grinder to make pure stevia. Make enough for a cup or more if you prefer. Store the grounded stevia in an air-tight jar, ready for use.
  • Note – To cook with stevia simply replace every 1 cup of sugar with 3 to 4 teaspoons of stevia.
  • To make liquid stevia, dissolve ¼ cup of the stevia powder with 1 cup of hot filtered water. Stir well and leave out to cool at room temperature for a day. After a day strain the stevia out of the liquid and store the liquid stevia in the refrigerator


That is it! The taste is amazing with the calories and it’s good for your health. The Tropical Spice Garden Gift Shop sells top grade stevia leaves in 40gms and 110gms packages, ready for use.

Sweetie Stevia – What are the benefits?

Benefits of Stevia

SteviaDid you know that recent scientific trials have confirmed that the stevia plant; also known as Stevia Rebaudiana, has in fact many health benefits other than its use as a sweetener. It has many plant derived phyto-chemical compounds that help control blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure in addition to its use as natural sweetener. With the rise in health consciousness, stevia has become a replacement for low-calorie sugar alternative. It is a safe and effective plant derived rather than a synthetic sugar substitute. The sweet glycosides are typically concentrated in its dark-green serrated leaves.


Health Benefits:

  • Although stevia herb dry leaves are roughly 40 times sweeter than sugar, it contains no sugar component, thus making it safe for those suffering from diabetes. However it must be taken in moderation. This sweet property of sugar in stevia is due to several glycoside compounds includingstevioside, steviolbioside, rebaudiosides A-E, and dulcoside
  • Stevia can also help to inhibit plaque growth and overall oral health. It has shown its effect on suppressing infectious organisms in the teeth and gums. It can be used as a mouthwash by mixing 3 to 4 drops of it in a half cup of warm water or add 2 drops to regular toothpaste and brush as usual. Regular use, at least twice daily, can keep your teeth and gums in a healthy state.
  • Certain glycosides in stevia extract have been found to dilate blood vessels, increase sodium excretion, and urine output.
  • In addition, to it being an herb, stevia contain many vitals minerals, vitamins that are selectively absent in the artificial sweeteners.


Serving Methods:

  • Dried Stevia LeavesDried stevia leaves can be used as a sweetener in your tea or coffee. Use only small amounts as it is nearly 30 times sweeter than cane sugar. Approximately one teaspoon of dried leaves is equivalent to one cup of sugar!
  • You can also ground into in powder form and store it in an air-tight jar
  • To make it into syrup add a cup of hot water to a ¼ cup of grounded dried stevia leaves. Stevia syrup can be used for cooking.

You can find the instructions on how to make grounded stevia and the syrup in our ‘How To’ section.

*Source of information from herbwisdom.com and www.nutrition-and-you.com