Here are some of the many benefits of turmeric and how to use it.
What is turmeric?
Turmeric (also known as Curcuma longa) is one of the most popular and well-known Ayurvedic spices. Used for over 5,000 years in cooking, dietary supplements and skincare. It is nicknamed the ‘golden wonder’ thanks to its many medicinal properties and signature bright yellow colour. Turmeric is a staple in Indian cooking, most notably in curries. It is often used to colour and flavour mustards, butter, and even cheese. Indeed, it is so revered in Indian culture that it is the heart of the Haldi ceremony. This is a prominent ritual where turmeric is applied to the hands and face of a couple before their wedding to bless them with a long and healthy relationship.
Turmeric in Ayurveda
In Ayurveda, we categorise turmeric as bitter (or tikta) and pungent (katu) in taste with a heating action. As a result, it is used in Ayurveda to balance pitta and kapha, but can aggravate pitta and vata if consumed in excess owing to its drying and heating properties. Turmeric has many beneficial effects for rasa and rakta dhatus (the blood and plasma of the circulatory system), and also kindles Agni (digestive fire) to help reduce any Kapha or ama (toxins). What’s more, turmeric is often used in yogic traditions to cleanse the chakras (energy concepts that should stay “open” and aligned in your body) and to support the ligaments.
What are the health benefits of turmeric?
Turmeric supports nearly every system in the body, including the digestive, circulatory and immune systems. Indeed, its incredible list of healing properties makes it the number one solution for most health problems in Indian households.
Turmeric contains an antioxidant called curcumin, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. While the curcumin content of turmeric is not that high (it usually accounts for just 3% of the spice), it has many positive effects. Studies found that curcumin both reduces existing inflammation and prevents future inflammatory pathways, and also lessens the body’s pain response. As a result, curcumin is commonly used in the treatment for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. There are now many great extracts available that concentrate the curcuminoids available in the preparations, a good example of this is made by Pukka Herbs.
Turmeric is often used to treat skin ailments, such as eczema and acne, thanks to its anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and antioxidant qualities. Turmeric invigorates and moves the blood, helping to heal and prevent dry skin, as well as reduce the appearance of acne scars.
Meanwhile, its antioxidants can prevent free radicals from destroying healthy cells, stopping the onset of hyperpigmentation and other long-term skin concerns. Indeed, some studies suggest that turmeric may reduce the chances of skin cancer, although more studies are needed.
When it comes to digestion, Indian medicine has relied on turmeric for thousands of years, with modern studies supporting its use. Turmeric can reduce gut spasms and flatulence, while its anti-inflammatory properties can also help to reduce gut inflammation.
Turmeric increases the production of vital enzymes that break down and detoxify blood in the liver. It also improves blood circulation to promote good liver health. Meanwhile, turmeric’s antiseptic qualities are useful for treating infections and fevers, as well as sore throats. Turmeric also reduces the risk of heart disease by improving the function of the endothelium (the lining of your blood vessels) to regulate blood pressure and prevent blood clotting.
How to use Turmeric?
Turmeric can be bought as a fresh root and grated into foods a bit like how you might use fresh root ginger. Or more commonly in the west you can use the dried powder. A little goes a long way. I tend to use somewhere between a n 1/8th and 1/4 teaspoon per dish.
As you can see, turmeric boasts so many health benefits. Therefore, I would heartily suggest that you incorporate it into your diet. If you don’t know where to start, I recommend my delicious golden milk recipe; it combines turmeric with white pepper to enhance
and activate its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, while also promoting good digestion! Please click here for my recipe.
You can of course use it in supplement form but as always I would recommend discussing this with an Ayurvedic Practitioner to see if it is the right choice for you.