Turmeric Herb Profile

Turmeric Antioxidant and Immune Boosting Spice Turmeric Herb Profile

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a super-spice that has a high antioxidant value and boosts the immune system. It is a powerful anti-inflamatory and is popular among those with arthritis and joint problems for this reason. Turmeric is antiseptic and kills yeast and parasites when used internally.

It is a member of the ginger family and it is what gives many Indian Foods their yellow color. It is used in curries and in mustard. There is some evidence that it supports brain health and can help avoid Alzheimer’s Disease.

Medicinal Uses:

According to Mountain Rose Herbs: “Laboratory tests have found that turmeric is antioxidant and antimutagenic (13,14), that is, it potentially helps prevent new cancers that are caused by chemotherapy or radiation used to treat existing cancers. Turmeric in the diet may help prevent the pain of arthritis, bursitis, and tendonitis. A volatile oil in the spice is as effective in relieving pain, under laboratory conditions, as equal amounts of steroids.

The antioxidants in Turmeric fight atherosclerosis by deactivating platelet-activating factor (PAF). This protein seals leaks in blood vessels by stimulating the growth of a protein “net” on which a cholesterol plaque can form. Curcumin in Turmeric helps prevent hardening of the arteries in people who have diabetes, and also helps stop the loss of protein through the kidneys. In the laboratory, the antioxidants in turmeric kill cultures of cancer cells from the skin, bloodstream, and ovaries.

Curcumin may stop the action of a liver enzyme that activates environmental toxins into carcinogenic forms, and may be especially useful in deactivating the carcinogens in cigarette smoke and chewing tobacco. Turmeric in the diet increases the production of enzymes that digest fats and sugars, and stop cholesterol from forming gallstones. Turmeric prevents the release of histamine in the stomach, quelling nervous stomach and counteracting food allergies and it fights gum inflammation by halting the action of a gene that creates irritant chemicals. Without the irritation, bacteria cannot find a place to grow, and the absence of bacteria reduces both bad breath and gingivitis.”

Even mainstream medicine acknowledges Turmeric’s health promoting properties. According to Web MD: “Turmeric is used for arthritis, heartburn (dyspepsia), stomach pain, diarrhea, intestinal gas, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, jaundice, liver problems and gallbladder disorders.

It is also used for headaches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, fibromyalgia, leprosy, fever, menstrual problems, and cancer. Other uses include depression, Alzheimer’s disease, water retention, worms, and kidney problems.

Some people apply turmeric to the skin for pain, ringworm, bruising, leech bites, eye infections, inflammatory skin conditions, soreness inside of the mouth, and infected wounds.”

How to Use Turmeric:

  • It can be used externally in poultices to sooth skin and reduce inflammation. It is often used in lotions or preparations for skin with eczema or psoriasis.
  • When incorporated into the diet it can be helpful for reducing inflammation in those with arthritis.
  • Turmeric can be made into a paste with water or honey to make a skin scrub that cools inflammation and helps stop acne.
  • Externally, a paste of turmeric and aloe vera gel can ease pain and itching from burns, bites, chicken pox, poison ivy, or eczema.
  • In a soothing Turmeric Tea to sooth during illness or improve sleep. This is one of my favorite uses! See my recipe below.
  • It is wonderful to add to grilled foods, vegetables, mashed cauliflower, sauces, and spice blends. I add a pinch to my eggs in the morning and to most dishes that I cook.
  • Turmeric’s high antioxidant content makes it beneficial for the skin and it is used in some natural sunscreens and bronzers. A paste of Turmeric and strong brewed black tea will temporarily darken the skin and there is some evidence that it might also provide some sun protection.
  • Turmeric is said to be great for the skin and can be used in facial washes and scrubs to sooth skin and even out skin tone. Turmeric can cause hair to become less thick so it is often used my Indian women on unwanted facial hair but should be avoided on the head or by men on their faces.
  • Turmeric is a wonderful spice to add to soups and stews as it gives them a rich, warm flavor and a beautiful color. If you make homemade bone broth, a couple teaspoons of Turmeric are a great addition.
  • Many people take it as a supplement to help reduce inflammation and pain, especially those with arthritis or other inflammatory conditions.

How to Make Turmeric Tea:

Turmeric Tea is incredibly soothing and great during illness or as an everyday immune booster. It’s easy to make and kids usually like it. Recipe makes two cups. Thanks to Marks Daily Apple for the recipe inspiration.

Turmeric Tea Ingredients

Turmeric Tea Instructions

If you have a Vitamix or other good blender, just dump hot water, shredded coconut, Turmeric, Cinnamon, honey/maple syrup and cayenne into the blender and blend for 2 minutes.

If not, heat the coconut milk on the stove until hot but not boiling then add the other ingredients and stir well. You can also heat the coconut milk and then add all ingredients to a blender for a smoother version.

Enjoy!

Where to Purchase Turmeric

There can be a tremendous difference among different brands of Turmeric. I get powdered Turmeric from Mountain Rose Herbs as it is the best value and I am extremely impressed with its quality. You may also be able to find high quality Turmeric locally, just look for organic with bright yellow orange color and no added ingredients.

Important Notes

Turmeric should be taken in moderation or used in foods. Some folklore info suggests that it was used as a birth control and it should not be taken by women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant (though using it in cooking is fine).  As with any herb or supplement, consult your doctor before using. When used externally, it will give the skin a light yellow hue for a little while after use and this can easily be washed off.

Be careful about buying Turmeric from regular grocery stores as many brands are not organic or have additives.

Do you cook with Turmeric? Ever used it for other uses? Please share below!

Reader Comments

  1. says

    Turmeric has done wonders for our dogs. 
    A nutritionist vet gave us the dosages.  One dog has arthritis from age, and the other from an injury. The one with the old injury has stopped limping from it’s anti-inflammatory properties.  Can’t wait to try the tea recipe for my people!

  2. Alice cullam says

    hello,

    im ver interested in buying tumeric powder as im a cancer survivor – only 31yrs old, however im in Australia and it looks like this company doesnt ship to Australia. do you know anywhere in australia that sells this wonderful brand?

    thanks
    alice

    • says

      Hi Alice!
      Look for ethnic food stores, especially one which caters to Indian cuisine. If you can not find one, I suggest you go to an Indian restaurant and speak with the owners and perhaps get information as to where they purchase their tumeric. I find mine at an Indian food store. You can find it in both powdered (good sized bags) or root form, that you would grate. I hope this helps!

  3. Holly1414 says

    The tea is amazing! I’ve been fighting pancreatitis (result of a freak injury) off and on for about 5 weeks, which has resulted in pretty severe GI issues. This tea is SO warm and soothing, and absolutely delicious! Thank you, Wellness Mama!

  4. Ashley says

    Just an FYI – I’ve used it on my face (mixed with water) and it turned my face yellow. It took some scrubbing to make my face look normal again. 

    • says

      It can leave a yellow tint, especially the higher quality ones. Typically, it absorbs or goes away in a few hours, but I’m glad your face looks normal again!

  5. Er1kksen says

    I can get raw turmeric root (like you’d get ginger root) at my local organic foods co-op. I’m not sure if this is a common item to find. A bit of tea from the steeped root is very nice, and I put some in my stockpot and soup too. Since I’m told that ginger root is easy to sprout and grow as a container plant indoors, I plan on attempting the same with turmeric.

  6. Stephanie says

    I used to get really bad infections and if you make the turmeric into a paste with water and put it on the infected area it will go away, like on open wounds and cuts. Its wonderful!! I strongly use natural healing remedies now, because they work soo much better than antibiotics. Plus there are not any chemicals in organic herbs and spices.

  7. Kay says

    I use to have an issue with itching skin from foods with Histameines in them. Since taking turmeric capsuls on a regular basis, I have had no severe itching or hives. Feel so much better.

  8. tansy says

    Love this, thank you! you mentioned that it has been used as birth control. I cook with turmeric daily, should I be cautious with the amount my children consume? thanks x

    • says

      It is fine for children in these amounts. I would definitely never suggest trying to use this as birth control in any form, but there is some old information that it can reduce fertility temporarily so it should specifically be avoided when trying to get pregnant!

  9. Kathy says

    I have heard that it helps counteract the effect of MSG in foods. Of course you want to avoid the MSG but I usually take a couple capsules after eating in a restaurant since you are never sure what you are getting.

  10. says

    How do you make the paste with Aloe Vera? My 17 month old baby has eczema and no med is working and I would like to try the turmeric as we are using it more otften in the food … Thank you

    • Sushma says

      For my nearly 3 year old, who had a severe and first attack of atopic dermatitis, only Turmeric worked!

      1. Took half a teaspoon of Turmeric, mixed with water and applied on the afflicted spots – the itch goes away with immediate effect. Wait for a few hours, as turmeric dries it out, though it simultaneously but instantly takes away the itch and keeps it that way. 50% of the fight is won with that.

      (Do note that turmeric stains clothes, skin etc. But don’t panic if one starts looking like the Simpson family. One can wear gloves while applying. Also after a couple of washes it goes away. With clothes, best use old clothes. When it comes to the bath tub, it comes off with ease with baking soda.)

      2. Then start the next step – the rest 50% of the fight is to lubricate the really dry skin – started with 100% coconut oil. It has to be done every hour or so, even through the night. And one can scale it down after a few days. In the last step moved to Castor oil (twice a day). It worked like a charm. He was back to his baby skin! Now I just do it twice a day with coconut oil i.e immediately after his bath and before he goes to sleep.

      3. I also bathe him with hot water everyday, not luke warm as was suggested by everyone. Water is not good for them, as it dries them out more. So I add rice starch to his bathing water – an old Japanese remedy for great skin. Just take a handful of rice, boil it in about 2 litres of water and strain. Infact, research has shown that immersing in rice starch twice a day for about 15 minutes, gets the skin to recover by 20%. And the other thing I do – I first oil massage him before immersing him in his bath; and as soon as I take him out, I immediately seal him off with oil. It really works with him! He loves it & so relaxed after the bath!

      4. I also ensure that he drinks the Avène mineral water from France – about half liter a day now. They have a natural hot thermal spring in Avène, France. There are some exceptional results from that specific one. We plan to do a three week therapy session there, even if he does not experience AD again. Some other things I have included as part of his diet – I give him a quarter teaspoon of cod liver oil everyday from Green Pastures (the only brand I would suggest); and a quarter teaspoon of Manuka honey in the mornings (ensure Manuka honey is labelled either UMF or MFO – 10+ UMF or 100 MFO – it goes higher, but for kids it may not be suitable. Though I use the 250 MFO, but only give a quarter teaspoon); and a glass of turmeric milk (googled the recipe) in the evenings. AND today everything in my kitchen is BIO and no chemical cleaners in the house!

      5. Though being advised to avoid a whole range of foods, I am not holding back anything other than eggs. I only suspect eggs after observing him. I will re-introduce eggs to him again in about six months. He is back again to his healthy eating days. This year Christmas, the treats will be very limited in our home, as I strongly feel refined sugar was a major contributor.

      6. The inner garments that make direct contact with the skin are made of derma silk.

  11. says

    A cup of warm milk with a pinch of turmeric and a pinch of powdered cloves given daily builds immunity and reduces phlegm. This was advised by a Sri Sri Ayurveda doctor and found to be very effective in adults and children. It tastes good too :)

  12. Katie Flynn says

    i take turmeric in capsule form because i have an autoimmune condition. also have incorporated it into cooking but in very small amounts. it is intense!

  13. says

    I love turmeric! It’s quite possibly one of my favorite spices (but I have several) I’m well aware of its antidepressant properties, and since I’m prone to getting blue I try to make Indian or Moroccan dishes with turmeric in them whenever I can, at least once a week if possible.

  14. Patty says

    My doctor does not use alternative medicine at all. I was diagnosed with Autoimmune hepatitis about 1 1/2 years ago. Since my GP didn’t find it for SO long, my liver has 80% cirrhosis. Because of this, I am so scared to take any pain meds because I don’t want to cause more damage to my liver. So, my question is, can I take turmeric for the anti inflammatory benefit? I know there is no reason to ask my doc, because he will just say no. I just want to be sure I won’t damage my liver more. At this time, he has me taking Imuran to combat my body attacking my liver….

  15. Litz Anchinges says

    Is it okay to just add turmeric (the root itself) to hot water? I don’t include coconut milk and cinnamon in my recipe.

  16. kim yamaguchi says

    I add a capsule to my chicken’s water, and mix it into yogurt for my dogs. My daughter uses it as a paste in her face and we all take it as a supplement.

  17. Candace says

    I’ve read it is most beneficial to use turmeric raw, and I’ve also read that it is most effective when heated with a fat. Do you know which is true? Thank you so much.

    • Elysia says

      I read in several places that it is best absorbed when taken with fat. I was also wondering which was more effective – fresh root or dried powder – but couldn’t find any solid info. It does look like the fresh has a more rounded flavor than the powder (just like ginger) and is better for those with esophageal issues or acid reflux/GERD.

  18. Lisa Morris says

    I get fresh raw tumeric from our local health food store and slice it up and put it in our smoothies. My husband has seen a decrease in his blood sugars from this. (He is diabetic) I am going to add some to my Bone Broth the next time I make it!

  19. Megan Oien says

    I am pregnant with my fourth baby and usually suffer from all day nausea (morning sickness not sure where they came up with the “morning” part). I began taking turmeric to support my liver approximately 2 months before becoming pregnant. From pregnancy weeks 4-6 I was traveling and discontinued turmeric. I got my normal all day nausea as soon as week 6 hit. I returned home and began with the turmeric again (just a tsp per day in Golden milk at bedtime). I also did things I found helpful in previous pregnancies for liver support- Epsom salt baths, castor oil packs, lemon water upon waking, and a WAPF diet for pregnant and nursing mothers. My all day nausea disappeared within 4 days and is still gone. I am still exhausted, but not nauseous. I really think it was the turmeric. I have been on an endless research quest to determine safety of turmeric in pregnancy and really can’t find anything definitive. I have decided for myself that because Indian people eat turmeric often in curry and I’m pretty sure pregnant don’t avoid curry, I feel safe eating just a teaspoon a day. I also found a blog entry from a pregnant Indian woman whose Grandma recommended she drink Golden Milk daily at the end of pregnancy. I think it is a traditional practice. I would really love to recommend it to others on my blog, and was wondering if you had any reliable resources on WHY it is contraindicated in pregnancy. I know you’re not a doctor, but I find that I learn the most from lay people. Thanks so much!

    • maythen78 . says

      It’s like when i hear that pregnant women shouldn’t drink green tea, i’m like yea right…. millions of asians can’t be wrong. especially with how they are kicking our butts in math and science. I am so glad i found this thread, i am desperate for something to help my eczema and i’m so done with steroids and prescriptions. even more so now that i’m pregnant. I’m trying golden milk this week.

  20. Michael says

    I just ordered a Curcumin supplement brand that was studied at Baylor College of Medicine last year. I am now concerned that it may cause hair loss. I will take 500mg twice a day. I have read that it can cause hair loss, however I’ve also read it can slow hair loss when combined with resveratol. Does anyone have any thoughts? Thank you, Michael

    • Elysia says

      In Wellness Mama’s post she says when use topically it can slow hair growth but not when taken internally. If you google it, make sure to specify “when taken internally”

  21. Agnes says

    Do you know if turmeric is effective against ALL parasites or just some? Will is also be effective against the eggs (yuck, I don’t like even thinking about it :P)? Thanks for any feedback.

  22. Sterling Hutchinson says

    anyone have any suggestions if it is better to take turmeric in a pill in the morning or the evening? or does it matter?

  23. Marc Sawyer says

    I am aware that turmeric comes in capsule form in herbal stores. I also know that you can cook with turmeric and that it can be purchased in loose powder form in the stores. Is there a difference? What doses should be taken for ailments and in what form? Thanks.

  24. December says

    Hi,
    I am from India. I know for a fact that my mom always used to give this hot milk whenever we have cold or fever. She used to heat up the milk and bring it to boil and add crushed garlic, like a teaspoon full of freshly crushed black pepper (not too powdery) and a generous amount of turmeric, May be a teaspoon or so. Remember a teaspoon of turmeric powder for a glass of milk is itself too strong. you may add more if you want. I know that milk causes more phlegm production so we stopped drinking milk. But if you want, you can add any other milk or just water instead of milk and have it. I see the home remedy of using garlic, turmeric and black pepper now. I also read black pepper increases curcumin absorption.

    Another thing we do is we not only use turmeric in the curries but also in a lot of vegetable stir fry’s – indian style. we add it whenever we saute onion or garlic before adding vegetables or sometimes after adding vegetables.

    Also, in lot of Indian soups which are usually made when you are sick or recovering from an illness, main ingredients are turmeric, cumin, black pepper, garlic and ginger as flavouring agents for the soup!

    Now I see the point why elders in India insist on old ways of home cooking as healthy!!!
    Thought of sharing this with you even though the benefits of using this in cooking is still in research and I cant vouch for its benefits in cooking without scientific backing but I just wanted to point out how it is used!!

    • Dkblue says

      Thank you! I am seeing an Indian born homeopath for Lyme Disease and he put me onto turmeric in warm milk before bed. I add a little black pepper too. Love it!

  25. marisa says

    Hi Katie! Love your site and have used many recipes so far! Very interested in turmeric causing the kidneys not to spill protein. My 13 year old son has minimal change nephrotic syndrome and is on long term meds and steroids. We started the turmeric 2 weeks ago (with drs permission) and he is actually spilling less protein!!! My question for you is if you can lead me to where you found your information. Would like to read more about it but couldn’t find anything with google. God bless you for all you do!

  26. Jeff says

    I’ve been adding Tumeric to quite a bit of my cooking. Adding it into oatmeal along with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and home made vanilla (alcohol cooks out). Like some of the others I’ve added it in similar recipes. I was glad to see your recipe to try out using the coconut milk and hadn’t thought of using it like that. I noticed your article on D. Earth and my wife is using that so will be reading that next. For better health we always use noni juice and mangoxan juice too. It seems pricey sometimes but an ounce of prevention etc etc.

  27. Windy says

    A friend of mine gave me a simple recipe for popcorn with turmeric, which she received from her co-worker from India. My husband and I love it. Put oil in the bottom of a large covered pot. Add 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels along with a 1/4 tsp. turmeric and a 1/4 tsp. cayenne. The recipe didn’t call for a certain type of oil, but I like to use coconut oil.

  28. Steve Tattershall says

    Thanks SO MUCH for this, as I was struggling with how to use turmeric since I bought a big bag of it at an Indian grocery several weeks ago. Your ideas and tea recipe were the perfect vehicle to get me trying it out, and the tea worked great, even when I substituted almond milk for coconut milk and stevia for honey. It tasted great, and inspired me to experiment, even before I finished the first mug. I can attest that the brew is still good to drink even when the almond milk version has lemon and organic cocoa powder added in.

    I’ll be using turmeric in soups and vegetables yet today, and I’ll add it into my spicy mexican cocoa when I make it next!

    now I’m ready to use it regularly.

  29. Mina says

    Can you clarify – how can something be both anti-inflammatory and “immune boosting” at the same time? These should be opposites. People with inflammation issues are people with overactive immune systems. The last thing they want to do is “boost” it even further. Inflammation *is* immune activity.

  30. Aprille says

    I just took coconut cream, organic milk, money, cinnamon, cloves, turmeric…and secret ingredient…PUMPKIN…heated it all on the stove for a few minutes. Pumpkin spice latte without the coffee!!

  31. Deborah says

    Kate, did you or any of the people reading this blog, use tumeric during pregnancy and did you have any bad side effects? I read that it can cause uterine contractions and therefore should be avoided before you are due. Also that in can cause bleeding problems. I tend to agree with the comments that pregnant women in India eat it throughout their pregnancies so probably it is safe, however they have been eatting it all of their lives and are used to it and that could make a difference.

    • Ashlee says

      I do. I have been practicing ayurveda for years and years and the powdered form in cooking and in a curative milk is fine. the issue would be with taking it in supplement form such as a tablet several times a day from a bottle such as Banyan Botanicals etc. I use a pinch in milk and it helps with insomnia and RLS due to pregnancy.

  32. Johnnie says

    When I saw this recipe for turmeric tea I rushed out to buy coconut which was the only ingredient I needed. I used my Vitamix and the tea was pretty tasty but had lots of foam on top. When I got close to the bottom of the cup, there was thick “stuff” which I assume was coconut. My Vitamix container is now a sickly yellow because of the turmeric stain. Any ideas how to get this stain off?

  33. raf says

    hi! i was led here by looking for bone broth recipes from different parts of the world. and this link was at the bottom. i was actually surprised you did not add turmeric there. i belong to pakistan, the north-west, ahem. anyway, for ages, we have been making bone broth for beef/mutton bones. we use joints and the bones that can’t be chopped smaller than your fist. we add these bones with enough water to top it. for every 4 fist size bones, we add 4-5 cloves of garlic,1 tbsp coriander powder (indian spice) and 0.25 teaspoon of turmeric, salt to taste. and put the mixture on a boil until the flesh starts falling off the bones (2-3hrs normal pot, 30mins pressure cooker). we do not discard the bones or flesh, we consume those. when serving we soak bread pieces in the broth, eat those, eat the flesh off the bones, and then drink up whatever’s remaining. it is so healing, nutritious and fulfilling.

  34. Gemma says

    Hi All

    I suffer with hidradenitis suppurative and take turmeric supplements on regular basis whenever I get a flair until it subsides. All due to the turmeric.

    Since I am pregnant I am having a flair. I went to get my turmeric capsules and noticed for the first time. Do not use while pregnant or breast feeding!

    I have scoured the internet trying to find solid evidence of harm during pregnancy and since I am panning on bf for at least a year I am in total panic as I don’t think anti biotics have ever worked for me.

    Does any of you great people have a link to a study/article explaining the reason. Or know your self!

    Thanks so much!

  35. camili says

    Hi friends,

    Can i apply turmeric paste on my scalp because i have bad dandruff and i heard it can help, any ideas, Pls reply, tq.

  36. Olivia says

    I had a severe case of gastritis where the pain was so bad I would stay in the fetal position in bed or in the bathroom vomiting non-stop for hours. One thing that would help the pain was turmeric in chicken noodle soup. I lived on that plus pretzels, applesauce and jello for almost 2 months! I was thankful to hear about turmeric! I am now going to try it to lower my histamine levels due to food allergies. The only negative I have found with turmeric for me is that if I take too much then I get a headache. This is common with some people.

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