(Warning – turmeric will stain hands, towels, countertops, clothing.)
Beautiful images of exotic places dance through my mind when I hear the word turmeric: India, China, Japan…Indonesia with their silky fabrics and vibrant colors, delectable dishes, curries and pungent aromas all tickling the senses. Turmeric, Curcuma longa, a native rhizome of Southern Asia is used extensively in Ayurveda and becoming quite popular here in the west; and no wonder, this small root is a powerhouse when it comes to healing the body—inside and out.
Research turmeric and you’ll find countless articles and studies on the amazing benefits of this saffron-colored root. Currently, there are over 200 uses for turmeric. As a wellness educator, I would like to see everyone using turmeric every day. How can I do that you ask? It’s easy, but first I want to remind you why it’s good for you.
Turmeric is superior when it comes to its anti-inflammatory qualities making it the number one reason to use it every day. Daily use of turmeric is good for digestion and other digestive issues; for liver health; for heart/cardiovascular health; it supports the immune system; for joint and muscle health; for brain health; and how about benefiting the largest organ—the skin—stabilizing collagen; as well, it’s being used for healing after surgery to reduce scarring. Also worth mentioning is that it’s more potent as an antioxidant than Vitamin C.
Other uses for turmeric include oral health: as a tooth powder to whiten and clean, and because it’s astringent, it may help with gum issues; as a gargle for a sore throat; as a beautifier for your skin to brighten and exfoliate; use fresh root in cooking; use in beverages, and how about as a fabric dye. South Asian Markets carry products containing turmeric: ointments, lotions and oils for your convenience.
Using turmeric, every day is easy: 1 – 2 teaspoons of powder is a maintenance dose. You can include it into your supplement routine by taking it in capsule form; adding the powder to your smoothie regime or stir it into foods like applesauce, yogurt or even rice or quinoa. If you have a juicer, why not add a piece to one of your favorite juice blends. Just peel it and add as you would other produce. You can find raw turmeric root in most natural food stores.
The following are some recipes to help you incorporate turmeric into your diet and wellness routine – because the more you use – the better.
Mariluz’s recipe for a facial mask
½ teaspoon of turmeric powder, 2 tablespoons of chickpea flour, add 1 tablespoon of honey and add just enough spring water to make the mixture spreadable, spread over entire face avoiding delicate eye area and leave on face for 10 minutes – 20 if you can. If for some reason it becomes irritating to you just wash it off with cool water. Use once a week. Beautiful.
Turmeric gum rinse
1-teaspoon turmeric, some fine sea salt and hot water. Add dry ingredients into hot water and mix. Swoosh are in mouth for a few minutes and spit out or use like the popular oil pulling and keep in mouth for 20 minutes. Use several times a week. (K.P. Khalsa)
Immunity Spice Mix (from The Answer to Cancer, Hari Sharma, M.D., James Meade, Ph.D.
6 parts turmeric
3 parts ground cumin
3 parts ground coriander
6 parts ground fennel
1 part powdered, dry ginger
1 part powdered black pepper
¼ part cinnamon
Mix well the spices. Heat one teaspoon of the spice mixture in one tablespoon of ghee, using medium-high heat, until the mixture releases an aroma. Remove from the heat immediately so it won’t burn. Add this spiced ghee to cooked rice, vegetables, or other foods.
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons ghee
Melt ghee in frying pan until clear (low heat). Add turmeric powder to ghee and mix well.
Remove immediately and let simmer off the heat for 5 minutes until it turns slightly darker color and releases its aroma.
Recipe from Epicurious.com
Turmeric Almond Dressing
3 (2-inch) pieces fresh turmeric, peeled and roughly chopped, or 2 teaspoons ground dried turmeric
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons natural almond butter
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Combine all ingredients with 3 tablespoons water in a blender and puree until smooth, about 3 minutes. Taste and adjust salt or lemon juice, if desired.
I consider K.P. Khalsa, of the International Integrative Educational Institute, the guru of turmeric and he suggests the following: when cooking with fresh root use oil to cook it; it extracts more of the beneficial qualities. Also, consume black pepper with turmeric because it enhances the absorption. He also offers the following recommendation: as a laxative use chopped orange peel and turmeric sautéed in olive oil and stir into a little rice or quinoa.
Turmeric is one amazing root. Few plants offer so much versatility and benefits. It is the most scientifically researched plant, and these days having that kind of validation on health claims is reassuring. Everyone can benefit from using turmeric in one way or another. Use it for conditions such as arthritis, dementia, eczema, gingivitis and even gas. You can take it in capsule form, loose powder, or use fresh…it just might be the king of all herbs. This is merely an overview of a part of plant that I find incredible. If you aren’t already using turmeric, I hope you will give it a try and start experiencing all its wonderful qualities.
Mariluz is a certified health coach, wellness educator and writer. She is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and helps people on their journey toward healthier living through food, herbs, and lifestyle choices. For more information on how she can be of service, please visit www.mariluzkersey.com.
Resources: Gaia website; KP Khalsa, the International Integrative Educational Institute; American Botanical Council (Excerpt from Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs copyright 2000; How To Be Your Own Herbal Pharmacist, Linda Page N.D., Ph.D. Copyright 1991 by Linda Rector Page; The Way of Ayurvedic Herbs, Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa and Michael Tierra, Lotus Press 2008