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Yes, turmeric is definitely the new black. And it looks like this powerful superfood is going to be around a long time...longer than the thousands of years it’s already been around. Turmeric (curcuma longa) and Haridra in Sanskrit, is an Indian spice with tremendous healing properties. Curcumin, its primary component and what gives it its 1970’s retro yellow color is what’s mostly responsible for these amazing health benefits.
Turmeric is a warming spice with a faint hint of bitterness. It has a rather subtle flavor so you can add it to different varieties of foods for a nutritional boost. Though it’s not curry itself, it is often used in curry powder varieties blended with other herbs.
Why all this love for Turmeric?
Yes, food is definitely medicine when it comes to cardiovascular health. Along with foods like garlic and onions, curcumin has been known to naturally lower blood pressure and generally improve the health of the cardiovascular system. It is also associated with lower blood triglycerides, especially following a meal where turmeric was used.
Not much Alzheimer’s in India. Can you guess why? Called Haldi in India, our little friend, curcumin stops the accumulation of beta amyloids which are very destructive to the brain. According to the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Vol 280, No 11), curcumin is far more effective in inhibiting the formation of these amyloids than drugs currently being tested to treat the disease. This is astounding. Researchers are especially interested in curcumin’s ability to stimulate the production of essential fatty acids (DHA and ALA) which nourish our brains and help keep us on our toes.
Curcumin has been found to have anti-oxidant as well as anti-inflammatory properties. This basically means that it has the potential to ward off certain cancers while helping to reduce inflammation in the body which is often responsible for illness. Because it’s considered a hepatic herb, meaning it provides support for the liver, it would make sense that detoxification is of great importance to this Indian spice. And because it’s such a superstar detoxifier, it helps us all the way down to the cellular level. Congratulations turmeric, the word is out for your ability to help ward off breast, colon, and skin cancer.
Joint health/ Inflammation: Move over Advil
Holistic doctors are now suggesting turmeric for pain management. “Recent studies have found that turmeric extract can rival NSAIDs for even things like osteoarthritis and pain associated with menstrual cycle. For acute episodes of pain, try 1-2 grams.” Kelly Brogan, MD and holistic psychiatrist.
According to health (or ayurvedic) population in India, good ole turmeric and milk can help kids ward off the common cold without nasty side effects. Turmeric also boosts my favorite amino acid, glutathione in the body. Glutathione is honestly one of the best nutrients out there since it also works as an antioxidant. The nutrition field is also discussing curcumin’s ability to reduce oxidative stress in the brain and protect against certain toxins that are associated with autism.
I use turmeric for Tommy in small amounts into curry dishes, on veggies, and in Creamy Buddha Milk (also known as Golden Milk)
Note: Though turmeric is generally safe for children, it’s important to use caution when combining with certain medications or with existing conditions. Always check with your doctor
3 Bonus Tips I bet you didn't know
Black Pepper and Turmeric are total lovers
Don’t forget to use black pepper when you’re using turmeric! Piperine in black pepper increases the benefits of curry (more specifically the turmeric) by up to 200%
Beta carotene Boost
Studies are also showing that using turmeric on your favorite orange foods, especially carrots and pumpkin can help you better retain the goodness that’s in beta carotene more efficiently. Yay for that!
A little goes a long way- Research is showing that most of these benefits kick in with as little as ¼ to ½ tsp daily.
What goes great with Turmeric?
Ready for more amazing-ness??? So I’m always after people who cook meats too high on the grill since the part that gets charred has been known to produce what’s called HCA’s (heterocyclic amines) known carcinogens. A recent study has shown that turmeric has the potential to prevent the formations of these HCA’s which is such great news if you like to cook meat for your barbecues. 1-2 tsp per 3.5 oz of meat can do the trick.
My favorites for this include carrots, butternut squash & cauliflower.
Lentils made with coconut milk
Chicken or tofu
Egg dishes, especially egg salad
Golden Milk (check out recipe here)
My favorite fall salad dressing
Made with apple cider vinegar, and yes….turmeric. Check out the recipe here.
Turmeric benefits us inside and out. Here’s a great face mask recipe from our friend, Wellness Mama
Mix 2 tablespoons of unsweetened yogurt with 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric and 1 teaspoon of honey for a soothing and cooling face mask. I leave it on for about 5 minutes and wash off. Use a towel, as it can stain.
Dietary turmeric is obviously fantastic, but if you don’t find yourself cooking with it enough, or are looking for a more potent form for a temporary condition or regular maintenance, turmeric is available in capsule and liquid form (my preference). Because turmeric not only contains curcumin, but other phytonutrients as well, I like that this blend contains the whole part of the turmeric and not just nutrients in isolation.
On weeks where I don’t cook with it or when I’m struggling with yoga or exercise-induced inflammation, I’ll mix turmeric extract into some water, or make Golden Milk. It helps a ton with flexibility of the ligaments and eases pain associated with exercise.
Note: Turmeric at this level is contraindicated during pregnancy and lactation
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One earth Herbal Sourcebook
Healing with whole foods paul pitchford third addition
Medical herbalism/David hoffmann, FNIMH, AHG