Since time immemorable, spices have been known to combat the onslaught
of various microbes like bacteria, fungi and viruses, responsible for various diseases.
These microbes also led to food spoilage, which in turn reduced its shelf life. Spices
can be used as food preservatives instead of chemical preservatives that are harmful to
our health. Studies have proven that the spices commonly used in the kitchen like
pepper, clove, ginger, coriander, garlic, cinnamon, etc., are highly potent anti-microbial
agents. Moreover, they are also eminent anti-inflammatory and carminative agents. The
essential oils in spices are also used for protection against various pathogens in plants.
These properties are due to the various chemical compounds like eugenol, gingerol,
flavonoids, terpenes, anthocyanins, phenylpropanoids and various organosulphur
compounds among others present in spices. Hence, spices can be exploited for food
preservation and in the pharmaceutical industries. They can also be used as
biopesticides, insecticidal agents, antioxidants and natural colorants. This chapter
highlights the effect of various spices on various micro-organisms, the various
metabolites in spices that lend this ability, and also reviews the various works
undertaken to understand the antimicrobial activity of spices.
Keywords: Spices, Anti-microbial, Metabolites, Food preservatives.