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.
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
- 1 can of Coconut Milk or 2 cups of homemade (or 2 cups of hot but not boiling water and 3 tablespoons shredded coconut if you have a Vitamix or high powered blender)
- 1 teaspoon Turmeric
- 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup or to taste
- Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
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.
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.
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!