Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard that turmeric is the new “superfood”. It’s interesting to note that my herbal medicine lecturers were banging on about it back in my student days over 15 years ago! However, modern medicine is slowly catching up and realising the multitude of health benefits this humble spice contains. It’s one of my favourites and here’s why…
What is it?
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is an ancient Indian spice that bears a yellow rhizome (or root) quite similar to ginger. It may be used fresh or in its dried powdered form and used to colour foods like French mustard and also as flavouring for curries. The main active ingredient is known as Curcumin, which has many medicinal actions. It also contains B Vitamins, as well as calcium, zinc, iron and potassium. Turmeric is difficult to absorb into the cells of the body, so if used in cooking, it requires oil to promote maximum uptake. So by using ghee or coconut oil or milk, you will assist this process.
How can it help me?
Many decades of research has discovered that turmeric has many therapeutic benefits including:
- Anti-inflammatory action: There is strong evidence to suggest that turmeric can reduce inflammation in multiple systems of the body. It targets the same pathways as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Nurofen, but without irritation to the stomach and kidneys. Therefore it is useful in conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, respiratory conditions, liver damage, eczema, psoriasis, peptic ulcers and pancreatic damage.
- Cardiovascular benefits: Curcumin has an ant-clotting effect, thereby exerting protection against stroke and heart disease. It has also been found to aid in the promotion of circulation and improving blood vessel integrity. Therapeutic doses promote lower blood pressure and reduce LDL free radical formation (the harmful cholesterol fats). Chinese medicine has also successfully used Turmeric as a blood sugar regulator, which may be helpful in those with diabetes.
- Female reproductive conditions: In traditional Chinese medicine, turmeric has been used to remove uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts. Its warming action is thought to resolve menstrual cramping.
- Assists digestion: Turmeric is warming and bitter, it has been used to improve protein digestion and pancreatic function, and stimulates optimal function of the gall bladder to promote effective bile flow. Add it to your stir fries and curries and enjoy the benefits!
- Liver protective: Studies on animals have determined that turmeric has an anti-oxidant action, thereby protecting cells of the liver against oxidative damage. It has also been found that it may be useful in preventing fibrosis formation in those suffering from chronic liver disease. Other studies have learned that turmeric may have a cholesterol lowering effect and reduced the formation of fatty deposits in the blood vessels. Indian Ayurvedic medicine has used it to dissolve gall stones. (Although I would not recommend this unless under qualified practitioner supervision!) I use a tincture of Turmeric in many of my digestive herbal mixes that I make for clients.
Prolonged use of high dose Turmeric may cause gastric upset or diarrhoea. It should not be used in conjunction with blood thinning medication.
Turmeric Latte recipe:
I love using food as medicine, so here is a Turmeric Latte that is easy to make.
To make 2 large cups, all you need are the following ingredients:
3 cups of coconut milk
1 teaspoon of organic turmeric powder
1 teaspoon of organic ginger powder
Optional ingredients include ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper, and honey to sweeten.
- Simply heat the milk in a saucepan (avoid letting it boil)
- Add other ingredients except honey
- Stir through until mixed well
- Pour into cups and add honey if required.
Just add more coconut milk if you find the flavour too strong, or add more spices if you like more heat.
If you’d like to learn more about how Turmeric or other nutrients or herbs can help you, visit http://www.torquayholistic.com.au.