Turmeric, what is it?
Turmeric (Curcuma Longa) is a rhizomatous (underground plant which sends out roots/shoots from its nodes), herbaceous (herb like) perennial (long lasting) plant that, is part of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae).
The chief constituents of Turmeric are curcumin, curcuminoids (curcumin II & III, cyclocurcumin) and essential oils. The active ingredient in Turmeric is ‘curcumin’ and has a wide range of uses. It is most well known as an Asian spice used in cooking, however, it also possesses anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-viral capabilities.
The part of the plant that is used are the roots, however, in some cultures the leaves are used to wrap and cook food in.
Why is it good for me?
Curcumin (the chemical compound found in turmeric) offers multiple health benefits. Turmeric has been used for centuries and is extremely popular in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. It can be found as a supplement in capsule, tincture or liquid form in health food stores, however, making your own ‘Turmeric Paste’ to use in a variety of ways is the easiest, most inexpensive and healthy option of consuming and using Turmeric.
What can I use it for?
Turmeric is most well-known for its anti-inflammatory uses. In 2009, in the journal toxicology, laboratory studies prove curcumin’s ability to prevent and/or improve symptoms of inflammation by lowering the manufacture of inflammatory cytokines (molecular messengers that regulate the body’s inflammatory response). Therefore turmeric may help with arthritis, atherosclerosis, tuberculosis, ulcerative colitis and lung diseases. It also assists with headaches, bronchitis, lung infections, colds, fever, eye inflammation and fibromyalgia.
Studies have also shown promising results with regards to Crohn’s Disease, helping to reduce diarrhoea, bowel movements and stomach pain. It has also shown to reduce the occurrence of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Other successful studies have shown that turmeric has benefitted colorectal cancer, pre-diabetes, stomach upsets, gum disease, kidney inflammation and recovery from surgery.
Due to turmeric’s antimicrobial properties, it has also shown to improve pruritus, skin wounds and skin rashes when taken internally or applied topically with a turmeric ointment.
Turmeric can also be used for jaundice, hepatitis, liver, menstrual difficulties, pain, ringworm and bruising.
At the moment in the University of Michigan in the United States of America, research is being undertaken that involves a solution of piperine and curcumin being used to target stem cells with regards to breast cancer.
It is important to note that turmeric is best coupled with piperine (an extract found in black pepper).
Why do we have to take it with Black Pepper?
Black Pepper enhances the bioavailability of curcumin in turmeric. Curcumin on its own has a very low bioavailability which means that most of what we consume is metabolised straight to the gastrointestinal area and then excreted before our body has a chance to absorb the nutrient content.
By consuming the turmeric with black pepper, it increases the bioavailability of the curcumin. Piperine in its own right is also an antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce pain.
It is also important to note, that freshly ground black pepper must be used, as this is the best way to preserve the piperine content within the pepper.
Is it safe?
In moderation, Turmeric is a healthy addition to your daily regime, however, as with all herbs, foods and medicines, seek the advice of your medical professional before including in your diet. Turmeric is considered safe but if taking in supplementation form, high doses can cause stimulation of the uterus, which can put pregnancies at risk. Do not use if pregnant or breast-feeding.
Other contraindications of using high dose supplementation forms include gall-bladder problems (specifically gallstones or a bile duct obstruction), diabetes (may decrease blood sugar), GERD, Iron Deficiency, blood disorders (may slow blood clotting) and infertility (can decrease testosterone levels and sperm movement in men).
It is also important to note that anyone that has a scheduled surgery should be wary of consuming turmeric two weeks before their surgery date due to the fact that certain medications that slow blood clotting can interact with turmeric. There are other possible interactions with drugs that reduce stomach acid, blood-thinning medications and diabetes medications. Please talk to your health care provider before using turmeric or curcumin in medicinal form.
What is the best way to use it?
The best way to consume Turmeric is to use a turmeric paste (Golden Paste). This can then be added to smoothies, milk, yoghurt, stir fries, etc. As an important note, due to the contraindications of supplemented high doses, Melanie’s Holistic Healing does not encourage use of this spice in capsule form. If you are interested in consuming this via capsule, please only do so after seeking medical advice.
Turmeric paste can also be applied to the skin as an ointment to help with rashes, itching and wounds.
TURMERIC PASTE – Will last up to two weeks, refrigerated.
½ cup Turmeric Powder (Organic if possible)
1 cup Filtered Water
¼ cup cold pressed organic coconut oil
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- Place the turmeric and water in a pan.
- Stir over low/medium heat for 7-10 minutes or until it starts to thicken.
- Remove from heat, add the pepper and oil and stir briskly until oil is incorporated.
- Allow to cool.
- Place your mixture in a sterilised glass jar with a lid.
What are the dosages of Turmeric that are recommended?
The dosages below are a guide only and are not exact. They are for adults only and not recommended for children. It is best to start with the low doses and slowly increase your intake. Seek the advice of a naturopath or medical doctor for more information.
Dried Turmeric: 1-3gm per day
Fresh Turmeric Root: 1.5-3gm per day
Curcumin Powder: 400-600mg, 3 times a day
Liquid Extract (1:1): 30-90 drops per day
Tincture (1:2): 15-30 drops, 4 times per day
Turmeric Paste: ¼ – ½ teaspoon, 3 times per day
Turmeric Paste for Animals: ¼ teaspoon once a day in their main meal
Can I grow my own plant?
Of course you can!! Firstly you will need a Turmeric rhizome (similar to a root). You can usually find these in Indian or organic whole food stores, online or at your local nursery.
You will need a pot with great drainage and it should measure at least 35cm in diameter. Use an organic potting mix and fill your pot to just 2.5cm below the rim.
Your rhizome can be broken into smaller pieces but should have at least two to three buds on them. Place each piece 5cm below the surface of the soil with the buds facing upright. Your pieces can be placed in separate pots or if you have a large enough pot, at least 30cm apart. Give them a good shower.
Your turmeric plant will take approximately 8-10 months until it can be harvested. It should be watered regularly and have either full sun or part shade.
Recipes for Health
Coconut Turmeric Milk
2 cups coconut milk (this can be substituted for Almond or Rice Milk) 1 tablespoon of raw honey
1 teaspoon of homemade turmeric paste
1 teaspoon of cinnamon **
- Place milk and turmeric paste and cinnamon in a saucepan.
- Stir constantly until milk is heated through.
- Remove from heat and stir in honey.
- Pour into your favourite mug and enjoy!!
**Optional ingredients include: cardamom, caraway seeds, ginger, vanilla, maple syrup and saffron.
4 cups of water 1 teaspoon turmeric (dried powder or fresh root)
Raw honey, cinnamon and/or organic lemon juice to taste
- Place water in saucepan and bring to boil.
- Reduce heat to simmer and add turmeric. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and strain.
- Add honey, cinnamon and/or lemon juice to taste. Enjoy!!
Enjoy using your Turmeric and if anyone has any delicious, healthy recipes, please share them with Melanie’s Holistic Healing. They will be published on the website and blog. Thank you.
As always have fun and immerse yourself in joy!!
The information within this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Melanie’s Holistic Healing does not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of information or products.