Turmeric (a plant that falls under the ginger family) has been treasured by Asians for thousands of years. Native to India, it is a beloved spice and one of the main ingredients in curry. It has also traditionally been used in ayurvedic medicine for its healing properties to combat ailments that range from uncomfortable digestive issues to irritating skin conditions.
Today, turmeric can easily be found in powder form in the spice aisle of most supermarkets. It frequently lends its taste (tart with hints of bitter) and all-natural, vibrant shade of yellow to flavouring and colouring food like mustards, cheeses, and of course, curry powder. Good for the skin, turmeric is also often used as an ingredient in cosmetics.
More and more, people around the world are beginning to learn about the benefits of turmeric, and in particular, its main component, curcumin.
Curcumin (incidentally, what makes turmeric yellow) is basically the reason turmeric is being hailed as a superfood. Copious amounts of research has been done on curcumin, revealing time and again that this one simple ingredient has truly amazing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. What’s more, studies show that curcumin contains high levels of phytonutrients, which is what provides turmeric with its powerful anti-fungal and anti-bacterial effects. And to top it all off, the strange-looking root is loaded with essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, vitamins B6 and C, and just so happens to be a wonderful way to add fibre to your diet, should you need it.
Here are some of the many health benefits of turmeric.
1. Improve Inflammatory Skin Conditions
Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties are reason enough for those experiencing annoying skin rashes (caused by conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis) to give it a try. Turmeric has also been known to help those dealing with acne. If you are someone who struggles with frequent breakouts, a turmeric face mask may be an option to help clear breakouts and reduce acne scarring.
2. Relieve Joint Pain
As a natural anti-inflammatory, turmeric is also a good option for those suffering from joint pain caused by inflammation. Turmeric can be taken orally or applied topically to provide relief in areas where you’re experiencing pain, whether it’s muscle aches, a swollen finger or a sprained ankle.
3. Lower Cancer Risks
The curcumin in turmeric has been shown in studies to have anti-carcinogenic properties, with the potential to reduce the risk of certain cancers—colon, prostate, lung and breast, among others—by inhibiting the development of cancer cells. Cancer is the leading cause of death around the world. Perhaps in time, turmeric can be part of the solution.
4. Ward Off Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s is an awful disease that destroys brain tissue and attacks the body’s nervous system. While studies have shown that turmeric can help to stimulate the growth of new brain cells, there isn’t sufficient evidence at this point that the oral consumption of turmeric alone will have a significant impact against the disease. While the results of studies are promising, more research is needed.
5. Support Immune Health
Curcumin may be worth exploring and can be particularly beneficial for those who suffer from immune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Turmeric’s antibacterial and antifungal features mean that they could help to boost your body’s ability to fight against the common cold and keep that nasty flu at bay. Turmeric can also be useful when applied topically to cuts and bruises to help with the healing process.
6. Aids Digestion
While turmeric is used in curries because of the incredible flavour and colour that it imparts, it is also traditionally used in cooking because it is believed to aid digestion. And because turmeric is anti-inflammatory and also high in antioxidants, it has long been used in ayurvedic medicine to treat issues related to the inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. In Western medicine, the benefits of using turmeric to treat problems with the gut is being examined.
A Recipe for Turmeric Tea
A cup of tea is known as a great way to help soothe the soul. A cuppa could rightly fix any stomach discomfort as well—a cup of turmeric tea, that is. There are so many ways you can include turmeric into your life. Other than enjoy a curry every so often, you could also sprinkle them on a cauliflower stir-fry or even add them into your morning breakfast smoothie. Here’s a simple recipe for turmeric tea:
- Boil 500ml of water.
- Add in a teaspoon of turmeric powder.
- Stir and let simmer for about 6–8 minutes.
- Strain the turmeric water with a sieve.
- Depending on your preference, you may add honey, lemon juice or even milk to flavour your tea.
Now all that’s left to do is to cheers to good health!
Note: Consuming turmeric tea in moderation is key. Turmeric tea may not be suitable for those who are on blood-thinning medication. You should consult your physician if you plan to start on a new health regimen.