Parts used medicinally: Roots
Most know turmeric as the powdered cooking spice that gives curry its beautiful yellow colour, but many have never seen what it looks like in it's unprocessed form. It's similar in shape to ginger but is coloured brightly orange, and stains fingers easily.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric lends its medicinal properties to many systems in the body. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and so can help with just about all inflammatory issues from arthritis to asthma and eczema. It also helps to support the function of the liver and can be used as a warming digestive aid.
Turmeric burst onto the wellbeing scene a few years ago now and has been a major trend in wellness products from supplements to ready to drink products and of course infusions. The root crop produces an amber, golden opaque brew, with soft sweet spice notes. This deep golden yellow coloured root of the turmeric plant - which is first cousin to ginger and galangal - is also well known for its ubiquitous use in Indian cuisine.
Now herbal infusions and powdered lattes with turmeric as a base are all the rage, however we have been using turmeric as both food and medicine for thousands of years. Turmeric supports the body in many ways but the key to its medicine is that it has a strong anti-inflammatory effect. This means that it can reduce painful inflammation. Medical herbalists use it principally for joint pain and inflammation of the gut.
Did You Know?
- One of the key active ingredients in turmeric, called curcumin, is poorly absorbed by the body. It is thought that black pepper can improve absorption so it is often seen in turmeric products.
- Turmeric root can be used to make a yellow dye - this will not be a surprise to you if you have ever tried to remove a stain from your clothes! This is because of the presence of yellow coloured curcuminoids which are strongly anti-inflammatory in nature.
- Turmeric is thought to improve blood flow to the heart and the liver helping them to function more effectively.
Turmeric & Me
- Turmeric and apple cider vinegar make great partners when it comes to reducing stiffness caused by osteoarthritis. Simply mix a teaspoon of turmeric powder and one of apple cider in a cup, dilute with water or apple juice and drink daily. Drink daily and you should begin to notice a reduction in stiffness and pain after a few weeks.
- In the Ayurvedic tradition, turmeric is used to make a comforting hot drink called Golden Milk. Simply add a teaspoon of turmeric powder or teabag to a mugful of milk (use coconut or almond milk if you fancy a dairy free treat). Simmer for 5 minutes in a pan until the milk turns a beautiful golden colour. Sweeten with honey to taste and enjoy!
If you are pregnant/breastfeeding or on drug medication, be sure to consult with a professional before trying these remedies.