Turmeric

Turmeric is a popular herb used in most Indian dishes in powder form. This turmeric root imparts its golden color to the Indian dishes. The scientific name is “Curcuma longa”. This herb has a lot of health benifiting  properties and thus is a valuable herb to keep in our kitchen.  

Biochemical constituents:  Essential oils, compound called curcumin, 60% turmerones, miscellaneous proteins, sugars, fixed oil and vitamins (Tierra, M. 1998).

Health Benefits: This herb has much more to give us apart from giving color to our food. Turmeric is shown to be helpful in regulating menses or in preventing or lessening the symptoms of PMS. This function of turmeric is attributed to its ability of gently activating the liver functions that help to regulate and balance the hormones. Turmeric has also shown to be an important aid in helping prevent and dissolve gall stones. Turmeric is known to contain anti-inflammatory properties, which make it particularly useful in the treatment of bruises and injuries. When combined with some other blood moving and stimulant herbs, turmeric is shown to be an effective external liniment. Turmeric is also a good source of powerful antioxidants, which are substances that fight the damage causing free radicals. Studies show that curcumin found in turmeric reduce inflammation by lowering the levels of two anti-inflammatory enzymes, COX 2 and LOX, in the body and also stop the platelets from clumping together to form blood clots.  

Ayurvedic Super “anti-cancer” herb: Turmeric is ayurveda’s top candidate as the best anti-cancer herb. It is related to the ginger plant and just like ginger; it is derived from the root of the plant. Ayurvedic tradition knows both, the importance of this herb and how to get its maximum benefits.

Western medicine has devoted a good deal of research on this herb.

Some of the western science documented benefits of curcumin (substance found in turmeric) as cited by Thomas M. Newmark and Paul Schulick:

  • More DNA protective then lipoate, vitamin E and beta carotene
  • It is a strong anti-inflammatory, both orally and topically and is also anti ulcerative.
  • It is shown to inhibit leukemia at initiation, promotion and progression
  • Inhibits the growth of multiple breast cancer cell lines
  • Shown to suppress colon cancer
  • Inhibitory of oral tumor and when applied topically, curcumin show to inhibit skin tumor promotion.

Turmeric is also known to be good for digestion. It is shown to help dissolve the undesirable fat in the body.  Turmeric also has antibacterial properties(Sharma, H., Mishra, R.K., & Meade, J.G. 2002).

Ways to use turmeric:

Turmeric is a potent herb. The right way to use turmeric is to cook with it. According to the ancient Ayurvedic tradition, using turmeric in this way, makes it taste better and easier to digest.  Cooked turmeric gets the gastric juices flowing, which is shown to help us assimilate the herb and get the most benefits from it. Turmeric is versatile. This means that it goes with every kind of taste identified by ayurveda. It can be added in a salty dish and a sweet dish. Turmeric, when cooked with other food, does not lose its innate plant intelligence but it enhances the intelligence of the food and vice versa. Turmeric can also be enjoyed in a liquid form by adding it to a glass of milk and boiling it. Taking turmeric in this form has shown to be helpful in preventing colds. Do not overdo it. The right amount suggested to be used is a quarter teaspoonful per meal, cooked with your food. Moderation is the best. According to ayurveda, turmeric is hot in its effect because it stimulates digestion and liver. Overdoing it has shown to create an imbalance for example irritability or a short temper (Sharma, H., Mishra, R.K., & Meade, J.G. 2002).

Last but not the least; western medicine confirms that using the whole plant is better than using isolated curcumin in supplement form. Studies have shown that extracts can sometimes have opposite effect of the whole herb. Ayurveda also prefers “wholeness” of the herb.

** The above information is for educational purposes only. There is absolutely no intension to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure any health problems or diseases. Consult your doctor for specific medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. **

References:

  1. Tierra, M. (1998). The way of herbs. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
  2. Sharma, H., Mishra, R.K., & Meade, J.G. (2002). The Answer To Cancer. New York: Select books, Inc.
  3. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/turmeric-000277.htm
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