Have you heard about the health benefits of turmeric? I just dug up my turmeric roots in my garden today—so it is a great time to tell you more about it.
This potent natural spice is a great way to add color and flavor to your meals. Most of us know it as the spice that makes curry yellow.
But it’s also very good for our health! It’s a proven anti-inflammatory that helps with many conditions. It also helps heal wounds more quickly and puts you in a better mood.
Turmeric has been used in India and other Asian countries for centuries, for both food and medicine, and for dyeing cloth, too.
Today, western medicine is beginning to understand its health benefits as well. Many studies have confirmed its anti-inflammatory and other healthful properties.
Turmeric comes from a rhizome (root-like structure) that looks a bit like ginger, but with deep golden flesh. The two are related.
I actually grow both turmeric and ginger in my garden!
Turmeric is a beautiful plant, with large, shiny, deep green leaves and bright pink flowers. Ginger plants have smaller leaves and usually red flowers. Both thrive here in Florida.
I like to put a small piece of peeled fresh turmeric into my smoothies. You have to be careful cutting it up, though, because it will stain countertops, clothing — or your fingers.
Try it blended in a smoothie with other yellow/orange fruits/veggies such as mango, carrots, golden beets, ginger, pineapple, and lemon juice. If you can’t find fresh turmeric in your local grocery, health food store, or Asian market – then use about a half teaspoon of powdered turmeric.
I love to make Turmeric Tea also called Golden Milk!
- 1 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- tiny piece of fresh peeled ginger root or ¼ tsp ginger powder
- pinch of fresh ground black pepper – it aids in the absorption of curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric
- 2 cups of milk substitute of choice (I use fresh coconut milk, but almond, cashew and hemp milks are good)
- Raw honey or stevia to sweeten
Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth—Pour into small saucepan and heat over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until hot but not boiling—enjoy.
If you don’t care for the taste and/or don’t want to add it to food all the time, you can also take turmeric/curcumin powder in capsule form. (Curcumin, a polyphenol, is what makes turmeric anti-inflammatory.)
Capsules are your best bet if you wish to consume curcumin on a daily basis in place of painkillers, for instance if you suffer from chronic back pain or headaches. It may take longer to get relief with turmeric/curcumin, but in the long term it’s much better for your health.
Ibuprofen and naproxen are NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. They’re fine to take once in a while, but you shouldn’t take them every day. NSAIDs have bad side effects from overuse, including potential kidney damage or stroke.
As with anything, you’ll want to get the highest-quality turmeric or curcumin you can find. Some is adulterated with coloring agents and fillers, so be sure to look for organic turmeric or curcumin that states its country of origin, and make sure it’s made by a reputable company.
Look for products standardized for 95% curcuminoids, with black pepper added to help with absorption.
Turmeric/curcumin works well with Micronized Purple Rice (MPR). The turmeric helps to sooth inflammation, while MPR works long-term on reversing cellular damage that causes it. So the two go hand in hand!
A word of caution: Especially if you’re taking anticoagulants or other medications that thin the blood, check with your doctor before using turmeric/curcumin supplements, as they can interfere with such medications. Also don’t use it if you have gallstones or bile duct problems. And avoid taking it for at least two weeks before any scheduled surgery.
Now, here are seven ways turmeric/curcumin can help improve health:
1. Protects the brain
Research has shown that elderly people in India have the lowest incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in the world. That is likely due to their high consumption of turmeric over their lifetimes
An important component of turmeric besides curcumin is aromatic turmerone, a potent oil that’s good for brain health. So consuming whole turmeric rather than pure curcumin is a good bet if you’re concerned with memory and other brain issues. If you’re using whole turmeric, be sure to include black pepper as well, for better absorption.
A recent study shows that aromatic turmerone helps repair stem cells in the brain, which may improve memory in Alzheimer’s patients.
2. Helps fight cancer
The American Cancer Society has said that curcumin helps to prevent cancer in several important ways. It has even been shown to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.
Furthermore, it has been shown to boost the effects of chemotherapy in animal testing.
3. May help prevent heart attacks
Turmeric/curcumin may help to prevent plaque buildup in the arteries, according to recent studies. This can help prevent heart attacks.
4. May delay diabetes
Blood sugar regulation is one of the benefits of turmeric/curcumin, too. If you’re in the pre-diabetic range, it can help keep you from developing diabetes.
Eating Micronized Purple Rice and incorporating other lifestyle changes can help with this, too. One of my health coaches brought her A1C blood sugar test down from 6.4 (a tenth of a point away from diabetes) to 5.4 (right in the normal range) by eating MPR and cutting out all forms of sugar and flour. For more information about my Micronized Purple Rice, CLICK HERE.
5. Calms an upset stomach or heartburn
Turmeric has been shown to inhibit the formation of gastric ulcers by as much as 85 percent.
And like its rhizome cousin, ginger, it helps with digestive issues such as stomachaches and heartburn.
6. May help lower cholesterol
Turmeric/curcumin may help to lower LDL cholesterol by increasing its breakdown and reducing blood cholesterol levels. It has also been shown to reduce triglycerides, at least in mice.
7. Lessens joint pain
One recent study showed that turmeric extract supplements worked about as well as ibuprofen on knee osteoarthritis. The research subjects took standardized capsules with 400 to 600 mg of curcumin, three times a day.