Last week I discussed the many benefits of the common household spice, cinnamon. Today I’ll tell you why you should use more turmeric in your meals.

Turmeric seems to put people off–bright yellow might stain clothing or teeth; its pungent, associated with curry–who wants to smell like curry all the time?–and bitter. But it need not be intimidating, nor smelly. And after reading all the wonderfully healthy things this herb can do, you’ll be so keen on it, you won’t be bothered by its foreignness.

Chinese medicine uses of Turmeric

  • Dispels phlegm
  • Relieves pain in chest, hypochondrium, epigastric region, arthritic joints, and due to menstruation
  • Moves blood and Qi
  • Treats gallstones and jaundice
  • Externally treats abscess, ulcer, sore, and furuncle
  • Reduces fever
Ref: Chinese Materia Medica, People’s Medical Publishing House

Indonesian (Balinese) applications of Turmeric

In Indonesia, turmeric is made into a drinking tonic, commonly referred to as Jamu and is used to treat:

Ref: In-person study, Bali island, Indonesia Aug-Sept 2011

Ayurvedic uses of Turmeric

  • Reduces or balances all 3 doshas
  • Used in Patra Potala Sweda (bolus) and Jambira Potala Sweda (Lemon Bolus), for
    • muscle and joint pain (as in osteoarthritis),
    • stiffness,
    • numbness, and
    • swelling;
    • best for Vata conditions
  • Used in Dhooma Pana (medicated smoking), for
    • respiratory disorders,
    • common cold, and
    • drowsiness;
    • best for Vata or Kapha
  • Treatment and lifestyle change for obesity–considered a fat-burning food

Ref: Course study at Greens Ayur Center, Oct-Nov 2011

Modern medicine research on Turmeric

  • Rich in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Thwarts breast cancer
  • Restricts cancer cell proliferation
  • Offers pain relief
  • “Protects and improves the health of virtually every organ in the body”
  • Other conditions, which could potentially benefit:
    • acne, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, rash
    • allergies
    • IBD, flatulence
    • depression
    • metabolic syndrome
    • Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

Ref: 5 Healing Spices by Bharat Aggarwal, PhD, Experience Life magazine, Jan/Feb 2012

Ways to include Turmeric in your diet

  • Adding color and complexity to rice
  • Creamy turmeric tea
  • Jamu drinking tonic
  • Mix with butter to add color and flavor to veggies
  • Chili or soup
  • Stir-fry, especially with onions
  • Butter chicken and Malabar coconut chicken
  • Indian-style cauliflower
  • Other Indian dishes such as lentils

To get all the benefits of turmeric, include more of it in your diet–either fresh turmeric root or dried-ground. If ground, be sure not to let the spice age too much. The best source is reputed to be Alleppey, India, where the turmeric contains double the effective properties (curcumin) than average.

Quick tip: drink water or tea immediately after a turmeric-based drink to prevent temporary discoloration of teeth and lips.