I'm really excited that turmeric is finally getting the credit it deserves. The health benefits of this culinary spice have been known for thousands of years throughout India's ancient life-science system of Ayurveda and more recently in modern herbal medicine. It has been used as a remedy for a range of diseases and conditions involving the skin, pulmonary, digestive, hepatic and musculoskeletal systems. Through modern technology, science now confirms that this root is a promising disease-preventive agent, largely due to its anti-inflammatory action.
The spice is a major ingredient in Indian curries, makes mustard yellow, and is a relative of ginger. It also contains over twenty anti-inflammatory compounds, including inhibitors to block the COX-2 enzyme that promotes pain, swelling and inflammation. It has specifically been found to block the formation of beta-amyloid, the substance responsible for the development and progression of Alzheimers disease. There are indications that it may help to prevent prostate, colon, breast, skin and pancreatic cancer and multiple myeloma. No one can say that turmeric cures cancer, but its benefits to overall health are undeniable.
I personally recommend turmeric ingestion for people with arthritis, injuries, inflammatory bowel diseases, diabetes, obesity, and autoimmune diseases. I also recommend it to healthy individuals interested in preserving and promoting that health.
The extract from turmeric that is best attributed with its health benefits is circumin. Circumin can be bought in its isolated form as a supplement but I don't recommend it. I learned long ago that in natural medicine all the compounds of a substance work together for a combined effect that is much greater than the sum of its parts. Turmeric is a root that comes from nature in its own perfect package. When in doubt, stick with what the earth provides.
If you're lucky you might find turmeric in it's natural root form. It looks like its cousin ginger, but in a smaller finger-like appearance, and with a bright orange hue. It may be available in your health food or specialty produce store, but it can be hard to come by. Turmeric's next best form is the powder used for spice, formed from its dried and crushed root. It can be bought in a spice jar or in larger bags at your health food store.
The recommended daily dose for turmeric is between 1 and 3gm per day for overall health benefits, although higher doses may be indicated for specific disease states. 1 tsp of dried turmeric powder equals 4 gm, so 1/2 a teaspoon daily is a perfect amount. You can take turmeric in a supplement form but why not let food be your medicine. There area few ways to incorporate turmeric into your diet other than eating curry every night (which is actually a delicious idea). These are my two favorites:
I always put a serving of turmeric in my favorite green breakfast smoothie: my Green Vibrance Smoothie. I'm a little bit obsessed with green smoothies for breakfast, but that's a topic for another newsletter.
GREEN VIBRANCE SMOOTHIE
*Combine ingredients in a high speed blender and blend together for 2 minutes or until smooth. Makes one large or two small servings.
2 cups kale
1 frozen banana
1 green apple
½ inch piece of ginger, peeled
½ inch piece of fresh turmeric root, or 1 tsp turmeric powder
½ lemon, peeled and seeded
1 TBSP flaxseeds
2 TBSP hemp seeds
1 cup filtered water or coconut water
Another great way to get your daily turmeric benefits is by drinking Golden Milk. This drink is especially beneficial before bed to soothe and relax your whole body.
Blend the following ingredients until smooth. Pour into a small pan and heat over the stove 3-5 minutes, until hot but not boiling. Drink immediately.
3 cups coconut milk
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 quarter teaspoon fresh ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon raw honey
Pinch of black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)