I love spices. I love the way they taste. I love the way they smell. And I love that they all have their own medicinal healing properties. Today I am sharing with you some of awesome health benefits of turmeric, one of my favorite spices.
Turmeric is a rhizome of the ginger family and is known officially as Curcuma longa. It is sometimes also called Indian Saffron. This hearty, earthy root is dug up, baked, and ground into a vibrant orange powder. Turmeric imparts a slightly spicy,bitter flavor and widely used in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Southeast Asian cooking. Even though I adore turmeric for it’s culinary flavor, it’s the medicinal side of this amazing root that I want to talk about today.
Indian culture has long used turmeric to treat wounds, infections, and other health problems. It has been revered as “holy medicine.” Recent research is now confirming of these claims, and medical doctors are beginning to acknowledge the antioxidant, anti-cancer, antiviral properties of this root.
5 Amazing Health Benefits of Turmeric
1) Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory
Turmeric contains more than two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds, including six different COX-2-inhibitors (the COX-2 enzyme promotes pain, swelling and inflammation; inhibitors selectively block that enzyme.) In addition, curcumin, the main component in turmeric, lowers the levels of two other enzymes in the body that cause inflammation.
The University of British Columbia conducted a study that showed curcumin to be effective in inhibiting inflammation in arthritis.
Research has shown turmeric to be an effective anti-inflammatory in the treatment of conditions like arthritis, sports injuries, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, tendonitis and various autoimmune diseases.
And unlike aspirin or ibuprofen, turmeric’s curcumin reduces inflammation naturally, without damaging the liver or kidneys.
2) Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant
According to the University of Maryland, turmeric has many antioxidant properties. Antioxidants fight off cancer-causing free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause.
This is important in many diseases, such as arthritis, where free radicals are responsible for the painful joint inflammation and eventual damage to the joints. Turmeric’s combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects explains why many people with joint disease find relief when they use the spice regularly.
3) Turmeric has been shown to block cancer
A recent study from UCLA found that curcumin, the main component in turmeric, appeared to block an enzyme that promotes the growth of head and neck cancer.
Evidence from test tube and animal studies suggests that curcumin may help prevent or treat several types of cancers, including prostate, breast, skin, and colon cancer. (source)
4) Turmeric lowers your risk for diabetes
Research, published in the journal Diabetes Care, found that people with prediabetes who took capsules containing curcuminwere less likely to go on to develop Type 2 diabetes, compared with people who didn’t take the curcumin capsules.
5) Turmeric is good for your liver
Other conditions turmeric has been noted to improve
- Ulcerative Coilitis
- Stomach Ulcers
- Heart Disease
- Bacterial and Viral Infections
How to take Turmeric
Use liberally in your cooking to enjoy the health benefits of turmeric. Combine it with other spices like cumin, coriander, garam masala, cinnamon, and mustard to create delicious savory curries. Sprinkle it over veggie before you roast them. Add a titch to your soups and stews.
Take turmeric supplements. You can purchase turmeric pills OR you can buy turmeric in bulk and encapsulate it yourself. These are the veg-caps that I use. I like to make my own because it saves me money.
Drink turmeric milk in the evening. Gently simmer 1 and 1/2 cups of milk of your choice with 1/2 to 1 tsp turmeric powder, a bit of fresh grated ginger, a couple of crushed cardamom pods, a titch of black pepper, and a pinch of cinnamon for 3-4 minutes. Allow to cool slightly then strain and serve. I like to add a bit of honey and coconut oil. Delish! You can also make a Golden Milk Turmeric Paste that last for several weeks in the fridge. Simply add a tablespoon to hot milk and you have the best Golden Milk ever.
Use a little bit of fresh turmeric root in your juicing. It will give you a potent raw juice that’s sure to heal.
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Turmeric and curcumin are extremely safe to take. However, please note that they can lower blood sugar, so anyone being treated with diabetic medications should discuss supplementation with their primary care provider. It may also act as a blood thinner, so anyone planning surgery should discuss this with their doctor or surgeon. Extremely large doses can lead to stomach upset, and, in extreme cases, ulcers. Anyone with ulcers, gallstones, or gall bladder issues should consult their primary doctor before using.
I would love to hear your favorite uses for turmeric. Please share in comments below.