Used medicinally, there are lots of ways that turmeric benefits your health. Turmeric is a commonly used spice that comes from the Curcuma (Curcuma longa L.) plant which is a member of the ginger family. Most people know turmeric as an ingredient in curry. But its more than just a spice, as you will see.
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Compounds called curcuminoids provide the healing benefits in turmeric. Curcumin is the most well-known of these compounds. If you take curcumin you’ll probably need to add some black pepper to aid your body in absorbing it. Personally, I prefer to take the whole herb as opposed to a component of an herb. Breaking an herb down into parts feels to much like the pharmaceutical industry.
Eastern cultures have used turmeric for food as well as for medicine for centuries. It is commonly used as an anti-inflammatory. Anti-inflammatories are popular for reducing pain, swelling, and inflammation.
Curcumin, the compound derived from turmeric, has been studied extensively. It is just as effective as typical anti-inflammatory drugs without the side effects. This is good news for those who suffer from joint conditions, like arthritis, where inflammation causes chronic pain.
May treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis are common disorders that affect many people, including many friends of mine. Studies have been done on the effect of turmeric on these diseases.
Although the researchers are not entirely sure how it works, curcumin oil improved cell functions and reduced the symptoms. Some symptoms, like mucosal ulceration, were removed almost completely.
Researchers say that curcumin has “bright prospects” for treating IBD, stating “striking suppression of induced IBD colitis and changes in cytokine profiles, from the pro-inflammatory Th1 to the anti-inflammatory Th2 type.”
Relief for digestive issues
Turmeric helps indigestion and heartburn. It stimulates the gallbladder and increases bile production. Turmeric is actually prescribed for digestive issues in Germany.
Protects against heart disease
Studies have shown that there is a protective effect of turmeric on the heart. Initial research shows that turmeric can help to reduce the build-up of plaque in the heart, a key contributor to heart attacks. Turmeric may help to prevent oxidized cholesterol, which is what damages blood vessels. Damaged blood vessels are a critical factor in heart attacks, strokes, and atherosclerosis.
May delay diabetes
Research has shown that turmeric can actually delay the onset of diabetes. Over a period of time, participants were tracked and given either a placebo or curcumin tablets in one study.
At the end of the study, not one participant who had taken the curcumin had developed diabetes. This finding is due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of curcumin.
Turmeric is shown to have important antioxidant properties, which may help to protect cells against cancer, particularly in cells in the colon. Turmeric can help to protect vulnerable cells against free radicals, which can be harmful to the body.
Plus, turmeric can help the body to expel mutated cells that may have developed cancer already. However, research is still working out how turmeric can help with cancer prevention.
High cholesterol is pretty common. I have it, though it isn’t high enough to be concerned. Initial research shows that curcumin oil can help to lower cholesterol levels. It works on the liver and encourages it to produce more receptors that produce lower cholesterol.
Your tissue state determines turmeric benefits
Turmeric is a warming, drying herb. If you tend to be hot and dry, turmeric is not a great fit for you. You’ll want to instead find an herb that is cooling and moistening that will offer the same benefits that you are seeking out in turmeric. Devil’s claw might be a better choice for you.
If you are familiar with Ayurveda, you may have an idea of your tissue state or dosha. If you don’t know, here is a good test to give you an idea. Just so you know, some of the questions are hard to answer and you can also select more than one answer for each question.
Adding turmeric to your food is perfectly safe, but if you take it as a supplement you need to be aware of certain precautions. If you are diabetic, turmeric can lower your blood sugar levels, so be sure to tell your doctor if you are taking it.
Turmeric also acts as a blood thinner, so if you’re going to have any kind of surgery, stop taking supplements a couple of weeks before your surgery. You should avoid turmeric supplements if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, and be aware that it can interact with medications used for reducing stomach acid.
Now that you know more about turmeric benefits, let’s look at a couple of ways to use it. I have two ways that I really like to use turmeric. One is in fire cider and the second is in golden milk.
Fire cider is great for the immune system and some people like it enough to drink it straight. I am not one of those people, though I will do it if I think I am coming down with something. I prefer to use it in a vinaigrette mixed with some good olive oil over a salad. And my brilliant friend Amy suggested using it as a marinade (why didn’t I think of that?). So anyhow, here is my recipe for fire cider.
Put all ingredients into a large jar and cover with apple cider vinegar. Cap jar with a plastic cap to prevent corrosion. Shake well. Add more vinegar if necessary to ensure the ingredients are completely covered.
Shake every day for about 4 weeks. Then strain out the herbs and add in honey to taste. Or you might prefer it as-is. Be sure to keep this refrigerated and use within a year.
One or two teaspoons a day will help prevent illness so this is great to have on hand during cold and flu season. If you do start to feel sick, take it every couple of hours as needed.
This recipe I got out of the book Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients into Foods and Remedies That Heal by Rosealee De La Foret. If you want to learn how to use herbs, you MUST have this book! Here is the recipe.
Melt the coconut oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add in spices and stir for 30 seconds.
Add milk and stir until hot.
Remove from heat and mix in honey
Put in blender and blend on high for 30 seconds, allowing steam to escape.
Makes 2 servings.