I always hated when I had questions about health and was given an answer in scientific vocabulary that I didn’t understand. I would leave school much more confused then when I got there. That is what I did not want to to with my blog readers. At times a scientific answer is necessary, but when it comes to health, the basis of what we all need to know is simple, the how is when it gets tricky.
When I first started studying Ayurvedic remedies, I had no idea what Turmeric was. I never had it in my kitchen, I never thought I even heard the word before. But I found myself seeing it repeatedly in the treatment of about every ailment and skin condition I could think of. As my father was in the midst of battling Colon Cancer, I took a keen interest in this magical herb and its healing properties to the gut and intestines.
So what is actually in Turmeric that makes it such a miracle spice? Curcumin is the active ingredient in Turmeric and it is also found in small traces in Ginger. It has unbelievably strong anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin is absorbed by the body at almost 2000x more when digested with black pepper/extract, piperine (though for the colon you would not want to add an enhancer). In lab tests, Curcumin seems to block the growth of certain kinds of tumors. One study showed that turmeric extract containing Curcumin could — in some cases — stabilize Colorectal Cancer that wasn’t helped by any other treatments. Turmeric is great to mix in warm milk or made as a tea for ultimate absorption and will settle upset stomachs.
Turmeric and its components have been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, anti-thrombotic, anti-proliferative, anti-angiogenic, radioprotective, neuroprotective and cardioprotective effects. Curcumin has been shown to inhibit proliferation and induce healing of chronic and acute Myeloid Leukemia, Burkitt’s Lymphoma, Melanoma, Osteosarcoma, head and neck squamous cell, Esophageal, Brain, Thyroid, Lung, Pancreatic, Liver, Intestinal, Endometrial, Cervical, Bladder, Ovarian, and Prostate Cancer cells.
Not only does it prevent certain cancers and aids in digestive health, it also helps with the discomfort of Rheumatoid Arthritis. As an antioxidant, Curcumin is able to neutralize free radicals, chemicals that can travel throughout the body. A Free radical is an atom or group of atoms, that has an unpaired electron and is therefore unstable and highly reactive. Free radicals may be formed through natural human physiological processes, well as, from the environment. They are the result of stress, diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, exercise, inflammation, exposure to the sun, drugs and air pollution. These cause damage to healthy cells and cell membranes. This is important in arthritis because free radicals are responsible for the painful joint inflammation and eventually the severe damage to joints and ligaments. Turmeric is even rubbed on sore muscles as a paste, mixed with water, to help ease tension.
Curcumin may be able to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the body. Since oxidized cholesterol is what damages blood vessels and builds up plaques that can lead to heart attack or stroke, preventing the oxidation of new cholesterol may help to reduce the progression of diabetic heart disease. In addition, turmeric is a good source of vitamin B6. What does this mean? It means Turmeric and its active ingredient is a staple in good heart health!
I love to add Turmeric to almost everything I eat. Avocado toast, eggs, chicken, fish, quinoa/rice dishes, and pastas. Its bold color may change the visual of your plate, but if you are opting for a yellow/orange bold recipe it will enhance the color tremendously.
Oxidative damage is believed to be one of the mechanisms behind aging and many diseases. Again, it involves free radicals, Curcumin’s antioxidant properties blocks them directly, then stimulates the body’s own antioxidant mechanisms. In skin care, Turmeric is a staple in my treatments. Turmeric helps fight the signs of aging. It reduces redness from blemishes and Rosacea, and the antibacterial properties disinfect the skin and combat acne. People with oily skin or acne scars who use turmeric on a regular basis can expect a noticeable improvement in the quality of their skin. Turmeric is also great at balancing uneven skin tones.
Turmeric Face Mask
1 teaspoon turmeric powder (ground/organic)
1 tablespoon plain organic greek yogurt
1 teaspoon raw organic honey
small/quick squeeze of lemon
*let mask sit on skin for 15 minutes *rinse well
Turmeric has also been known to help Eczema. In babies its a great natural topical for the condition. Mix into a paste with filtered water and even some yogurt to heal and moisturize skin.
It is always important to get organic ground turmeric powder to make sure it hasn’t been exposed to pesticides (most spices at regular grocers are not organic). Turmeric extract will give you ultimate absorption if looking for more serious health related remedies, and it is important to follow directions carefully. Powder is ideal for skin care. And natural turmeric root is great for all areas of health. I especially like to add it grated to teas and dishes.