Turmeric is a spice that comes from the root of a flowering plant. It is the most common spice found in Indian kitchens, almost put in every curry, lentil dish and marinate. But, turmeric isn't only used in cooking. For centuries, this exuberant yellow spice has been used for medicinal purposes due to its potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties. It also carries spiritual significance and is used in Indian rituals and ceremonies, even today.
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric, is an underground root-like subterranean stem, called rhizome. It is the root of the Curcuma longa plant, belonging to the ginger family. Turmeric is commonly sold in dried powder form. Dried turmeric is made by peeling, boiling, sun drying and grinding the rhizomes until it becomes a powder. Turmeric root can commonly be found in Indian and Chinese speciality stores. It looks very similar to ginger, except it is bright orange inside, whereas ginger is light yellow. Turmeric root is the cleanest form of consuming turmeric, as it does not lose the essential oils that are compromised in the drying process.
Turmeric is mildly aromatic and tastes earthy, warm and slightly bitter.
Why Is Turmeric So Healthy?
Turmeric has various compounds that provide medicinal properties. One of the compounds is curcuminoids, and its main component is curcumin. Curcumin has very strong anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties. In India, the top producer of this healing spice, turmeric has been used for over four thousand years as an Ayurvedic remedy. Turmeric is believed to balance moods, speed the healing of wounds, aid with stiff and painful joints, promote healthy cholesterol levels and even help prevent the growth and malignancy of some cancer cells, amongst many more benefits.
One of the main benefits of turmeric are the anti-inflammatory effects it provides. The curcumin found in turmeric reduces inflammation in the body. Those with arthritis commonly consume turmeric to aid with the pain. For some, turmeric has been more effective than prescribed medications such as steroids, inflammatory bowel disease medications, and pain killers. Curcumin is also a digestive healing agent in ancient Ayurvedic treatments, stimulating the gallbladder and assisting with bloating.
Turmeric has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that boost immunity. It helps to fight colds, coughs and congestion. India saw a surge in demand for the healing spice during the current coronavirus pandemic from Europe and the western world, due to turmeric's immune boosting traits.
Turmeric is a powerful source of natural flavonoids, which have antioxidant activity that prevent the body from free radicals. In Ayurveda, turmeric is used to prevent risk to the liver, heart and even believed to be anti-cancerous.
Why I Have Turmeric Everyday
Sinusitis & Nasal Polyps
For over a decade, I have suffered from a peculiar case of chronic sinusitis, triggered by alcohol. When I have an alcoholic drink of any sort, I get congested and lose my sense of smell and taste that can last for days. This reduced my quality of life in many ways. I was in a constant battle with myself choosing whether I wanted to drink or taste food. If I was on vacation, I couldn't enjoy a glass of wine as it would mean compromising pre planned dinners at carefully selected restaurants. Not only this, but I would constantly feel congested, have headaches and feel light headed from excessive nose-blowing, and experience severe sinus pains when flying (aerosinusitis). I felt embarrassed as I would always carry a tissue in my hand, and was uncomfortable at social gatherings when wiping my nose or when my voice became very nasal sounding. My sinus issues were just as much of a mystery to doctors, as they were to me. They prescribed a plethora of steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the inflammation in the vessels, but the drugs showed little to no results. I even had surgery to fix a deviated septum and remove nasal polyps. At first, this seemed to have worked, but within a year the issue returned.
Turmeric Capsules & Nasal Polyps
My brother introduced me to turmeric capsules. He had been taking them for another bodily inflammation and highly recommended them. I began taking turmeric capsules with a high mg of curcumin, daily. As curcumin is the main active ingredient that has anti-inflammatory properties, this was important. Within a week, I noticed a difference. Taking turmeric capsules has reduced the inflammation of the nasal polyps, which blocked my nasal cavities that make me lose the ability to taste or smell. I have been taking turmeric capsules for a few years now, and believe they have drastically helped my sinus issues, more than any drug could. I notice the issues reappear when I stop taking the turmeric capsules between replenishing my stock. It's a no brainer for me to have them every morning now.
I take turmeric capsules versus dried powder because it allows me to know the exact dose of curcumin I am consuming. The capsules have dried turmeric powder in them as well, but the exact dose of curcumin is stated on the packaging. The turmeric purchased in stores for cooking does not always have a high level of curcumin extract and is really difficult to measure. Being of Indian decent means I use turmeric in a lot of my Indian cooking as well, so I do consume store bought dried turmeric in addition to the curcumin capsules.
Although turmeric is natural, always consult a doctor before taking turmeric capsules, or any other supplement.
Other Ways To Consume Turmeric
There are so many ways to enjoy the healing golden spice. A little turmeric goes a long way so use moderately. It can be incorporated in cooking and drinks easily. With turmeric tasting fairly mild, it can be added to virtually anything - fish and meat, curries, smoothies and rice. Haldi doodh, also known as Golden Milk, is a milk based drink, infused with turmeric, which is every Indian mum's secret potion to cure all sorts of ailments!
The beneficial properties of turmeric are best absorbed in combination with black pepper, so using them together in dishes is good. Often, many turmeric capsules also come with a percentage of black pepper within them.
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