Turmeric…how glorious is this root? Just look at it! It makes me feel lively and comforted, just by seeing its vibrant color. Ayurvedics, for sometime have considered turmeric to be “strengthening and warming to the whole body”. It is used to balance vata, pitta and kapha. Turmeric is also a traditional spice in India that is taken to improve intestinal flora and in elimintating worms. Improving the intestinal flora itself also helps with gas and digestion, but it does so much more.
Wait check out this list of benefits:
- Strengthen the liver and gallbladder
- Helps to normalize menstruation
- It increases the release of bile, which in turn aids in fat digestion. Bile is one vehicle of the body, uses to excrete fat-soluble toxins
- Give relief of arthritis and swelling
- Act as a blood purifier
- Warms and promotes proper metabolism correcting both excesses and deficiencies
- Promotes healing when used as a local application on sprains, burns, cuts, bruises, insect bites and itches
- Soothes coughs and asthma
- Acts as an antibacterial and an antifungal
- Strengthens in any condition of weakness or debility.
- Supportive in the early postpartum period. It is a uterotonic, meaning it helps the uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy size.
The root of the matter
Turmeric (Curcuma longa), has been used medicinally for in excess of 4,500 years. It is a rhizome in the ginger family. It looks very similar (and even smells similar) to ginger root, but has a deep orangish-yellow flesh inside. The rich color of turmeric is what gives curries their beautiful yellow color. Turmeric has even been used for centuries to dye fabrics.
Many find turmeric to be a "must have" in their spice collection. I know I do. It is believed that the main component of turmeric is curcumin. This component’s antioxidant properties have been instrumental in protecting healthy cells from cancer causing agents and “particularly those found in the colon." Curcumin aids the body in destroying mutated cancer cells before they have a chance to spread to other areas...and also helps to lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease.” In fact, “one study in healthy middle-aged volunteers showed that taking 80mg of curcumin a day for four weeks reduced markers of inflammation and oxidative stress.” The only remaining question for me becomes, "how does one take turmeric to get the best effect
HOw to enjoy it
Two of the biggest challenges with turmeric are one, the varying amounts of curcumin in commercial turmeric and two, the bioavailability of curcumin (meaning that by itself, only small amounts are absorbed into the body). Bioavailability refers to how nutrients separate from the food that they are in and become absorbed by the intestines. After the absorption of curcumin by the intestines, it moves into one's bloodstream and continues on to the cell which needs it. Curcumin's low bioavailability is "due to it's absorption, active metabolism and rapid excretion from" one's system. It has been found that using a little black pepper with your turmeric, boosts the bioavailability of the curcumin up to 2000%! Black pepper contains piperine, an alkaloid, that is known to be an herbal bioenhancer. Oils like coconut or olive are also helpful in its delivery. I love turmeric and have made it a regular part of my week. Many use it in cooking; I am among the many. I also love to make Golden Milk, especially during the Fall-Spring when colds are being passed around left and right! See my article, so you can enjoy an amazingly creamy Golden Milk... perfect for the cold season!