Turmeric or haldi has long been known for its healing properties and is called ‘The Miracle of Life’ in India. In the West it was named ‘turmeric’ after the Latin ‘terra merita’ which means ‘meritorious earth’.
For those that are used to buying the beautiful yellow powder for curries I should explain that the spice turmeric is derived from the root of the turmeric plant, You can buy fresh turmeric root from continental grocers and its spicy lemony scent is heavenly, thoroughly recommended for a completely different curry experience!
It’s much more than just an ingredient though. Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory making it an excellent treatment for swollen joints as well as cases of inflammatory bowel disease and gastritis.
If you have a tendency to blood sugar imbalances you should incorporate plenty of turmeric in your diet as it can help to normalise your blood sugar response. Of course you should also look at your diet and make sure that you are not stressing your pancreas by eating a preponderance of high glycaemic index foods.
Turmeric also has a valid role to play in staving off the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease. Research studies indicate that turmeric blocks the production of IL-2 protein, which is known to destroy the protective sheath found around the nerves.
This miracle spice contains curcumin which has been shown to have anti-cancerous activity. Recent research is pointing towards its helpfulness in prostate cancer. There’s also a strong tradition in Ayurveda of using tumeric paste externally on cancerous growths, particularly on the breast. As if that isn’t enough curcumin has also recently been shown to have a significant anti-depressant effect. A 2013 study has heralded curcumin as being superior to prozac in the treatment of serious depression.
Turmeric can also claim a useful role in cardiovascular health as it helps to lower cholesterol levels. Its systemic anti-inflammatory effects serve to guard against arterial disease.
Turmeric is said to be helpful for every symptom and not surprisingly there are a great many ways of taking it. You can incorporate it into your cooking, after all Hippocrates said ‘Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food!’ You can mix turmeric with olive, neem or coconut oil to make a paste and apply it to painful areas such as bunions. The temporary yellow staining on the skin is worth it for the relief! The paste can also be used to treat wounds such as slow healing ulcers or infected cuts.
You can take turmeric internally as capsules, fresh juice or as a paste mixed with oil or honey. Turmeric can be prepared as a tea with a little lemon and ginger but my favourite is to blend it with selected spices and drink it mixed into hot non dairy milk as a hot chocolate alternative. As well as being delicious this is a very efficient way of receiving the benefits of turmeric because the oil content of the milk aids the absorption of the active ingredients.
In Ayurveda it is said that the fresh root is better for ‘hot’ conditions and the dried root is better for ‘cold conditions’.
If you haven’t discovered the wonderful health benefits of turmeric yet then now is a good time to start.
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