Turmeric: The Golden Goddess
Most of us know turmeric as the vibrant orange powder in the spice section of the grocery store. The colour brings forth the rich, warm tastes of Indian cuisine in all of its wonderful and different foods. Turmeric has been a staple of Indian food traditions for millennia and has a long history of healing uses (over 4,000 years) in Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicinal traditions.
Kanchani is its Sanskrit name and means the ‘Golden Goddess’ and is used in Hindu devotional and sacred ceremonies. Traditional Ayruvedic uses turmeric as a healing agent for the gastro-intestinal tract, aches and pains, liver disorders and skin abrasions. Modern research confirms the anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties of turmeric.
The part used is the rhizome which can be consumed dried, cooked or raw and has a slightly peppery, mildly bitter and earthy flavor. The component that gives the golden orange hue is produced by curcumin, which has been isolated and studied by scientists and therefore, perhaps unfairly, given most of turmeric’s healing attributes. In herbal medicine it is preferred to use the whole herb.
How to use this amazing herb!
As this herb is a powerful anti-inflammatory it can be used for many aches and pains, including muscle aches, back pain, cramping, and joint pain. In a randomized 2009 study which examined the efficacy and safety of turmeric in patients with knee arthritis it concluded that turmeric was as effective and as safe as ibuprofen. (Kuptniratsaikul et al. 2009).
Vulnerary (wound healing) and Anti-bacterial (kills pathogens)
As Turmeric has anti-bacterial properties it can be combined with a little salt and mixed together as a paste or a paste of cooked turmeric and honey can be applied to the skin where there is abrasions, swelling, bruising, minor irritations and insect bites.
Gargle for sore throat
A pinch or two of turmeric
A pinch or two of salt
Add to warm water and gargle as you would regular salt water.
Choleretic (helps promote bile)
The bitter principle of turmeric lends itself to assisting the digestion by stimulating the production of bile which helps promote digestion. (please check safety recommendations at end of article)
More research is being done to determine if there are any anti-cancer actions, including its ability to inhibit cell growth and metastases. Also studies are underway to determine if turmeric can provide some protection against Alzheimer’s disease. We will wait and see!
Tumeric can be used as a tincture, powder capsules or in your food. If you have the time the traditional method is to cook the root in water for twenty minutes or so. As turmeric is rapidly metabolized by the liver and intestines it medicinal properties may not be as effective unless it is consumed with black pepper which has been found to enhance the bioavailability of the curcumin in turmeric by 2000% (Shoba iet al., 1998)
Traditional instructions for the use of turmeric is to make a turmeric paste first, which can be spread on toast or added to other dishes or you can simply use the powder instead.
¼ cup ground turmeric
½ cup water
*combine turmeric powder and water in a saucepan
*simmer until mixture forms a thick paste
*let cool, store in fridge
1 cup unsweetened coconut, rice or almond milk
1/4 to ½ teaspoon turmeric powder or paste
1 teaspoon coconut oil(optional)
few shakes of ground black pepper
generous dash of vanilla
raw local honey or maple syrup to taste
sprinkle of cinnamon
*Place 1 cup milk with turmeric, oil, black pepper, vanilla, and honey/maple syrup into a blender
* Blend on high briefly until combined and foamy
*Pour into cup, sprinkle with cinnamon and serve
Can be served warm if you wish.
Note: If you wish to make tea simply use one cup of hot water instead of milk to the above recipe without using the blender.
Turmeric should not be used long or medicinally by those with congestive heart failure. People who are or prone to or have kidney stones, gallstones, bile duct obstruction or certain GI disorders (check with doctor) or are pregnant should not use turmeric medicinally. One should stop using turmeric two weeks before surgery.
Disclaimer: This is not intended as medical advice. If you have a chronic health condition or are taking medication, it is important to consult your health professional before taking a course of herbal medicine. Do not take herbal medicines when pregnant or breastfeeding unless under professional supervision.