It's no secret that turmeric is a pretty special spice that has long been used in the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine. And with good reason. This bright yellow spice has some powerful healing elements that can be of benefit to almost everyone.
I am anxious to tell you all about turmeric because it has impacted my life personally. But before I do, I want to share with you a little backstory on turmeric and how it can improve or eliminate some serious health problems. When you research turmeric, you will notice at the top of the charts turmeric is a known anti-inflammatory.
Inflammation is our body's first response to injury or infection as it tries to initiate healing. So in fact, inflammation can be a good thing. However, there is also chronic inflammation which is a prolonged form of inflammation that can distort the cells present at the inflammation site. As a matter of fact, chronic inflammation can exist in our bodies for awhile before the nasty symptoms start to surface. So we know injury and infection result in acute inflammation. But what causes chronic inflammation? So many things!
For starters, poor diet is a major contributor. Our body is not getting the precious nutrients it needs to sustain optimal health. Alcohol abuse, smoking, and many other lifestyle choices also play a factor in chronic inflammation. All of these things can lead to a host of diseases as our body is under attack.
One of the diseases turmeric has been known to help is Rheumatoid Arthritis. Free radicals cause joint inflammation that eventually cause damage. But the powerful antioxidant, curcumin, which is found in turmeric, neutralizes free radicals when used on a regular basis. Curcumin is also known to help those suffering from cystic fibrosis and aids in lowering cholesterol. Studies have also shown that turmeric can prevent cancer and cancer cell growth. It is also known to improve liver function, offer cardiovascular protection, and protect against Alzheimer's.
To give you some examples of just how powerful turmeric is, studies have shown that turmeric is just as effective as some common conventional medicines used today. Lipitor (used to treat high cholesterol), corticosteroids, aspirin (used as a blood thinner for people prone to blood clots), ibuprofen, Oxaliplatin (a chemotherapy drug), and Metformin (a drug used to treat diabetes) are just a few of the medications that turmeric can provide similar results as. Of course these are just some examples but it gives you an idea of how beneficial it can be to add turmeric into your diet on a regular basis. If you are dealing with a medical condition and are curious about implementing turmeric into your health care routine, talk with your doctor first.
So onto my personal success story with turmeric...When I moved to Oregon over a decade ago, not only did I inherit a beautiful place to call home, more green than I had ever seen in my life, trees galore, excellent water quality, and the best of what nature has to offer, I also inherited seasonal allergies. My first spring in Oregon, the symptoms started. Constant sneezing, itchy nose and eyes, ugh- so irritating! I went to an allergist and found out I was reacting to many of the mold and pollen spores that are in abundance here due to our lush environment. What to do, what to do. So of course I did what most people do and that is start taking allergy pills. I experimented with various brands and found one that helped. But what a drag to know every spring season I would need to take these pills until late in the summer to relieve my symptoms. I'm not a pill popping person and will all of the possible side effects, I was not thrilled about this path. What choice did I have though? So I just accepted it as life and moved on.
That has been my protocol in handling my seasonal allergies up until a year ago. Last January, I started adding turmeric to my diet on a daily basis after learning about the powerful benefits from a friend of mine. I didn't really add it in looking for a specific result, I just knew it was good stuff and figured, "Why not?". Lo and behold, something remarkable would result from this action. The month of May rolled around and like clockwork, my allergy symptoms would often appear around Memorial Day. But in 2015, Memorial Day came and went, no pill yet. Then we are in the thick of June. I'm hearing everyone around me complaining about their seasonal allergies kicking in but mine were not. So strange!
One day, I was walking with my same friend who told me about turmeric in the first place. I told her that this was the first year my allergies haven't been an issue and I wondered why. We pondered on it as we walked though a heavily scenic trail of trees and shrubs where there was sure to be tons of weeds, pollen, and mold spores waiting to wreak havoc. She asked me what had changed in my life, routine, etc. The only thing I could come up with is turmeric. So I decided to do some research.
I learned something amazing! The curcumin in turmeric is a natural decongestant. It acts as an antihistamine and because of its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-bacterial properties, turmeric is an excellent way to treat allergies. Wow! Pretty amazing stuff people! I know I'm not the only allergy sufferer out there so if you can relate, I urge you to give this a try. And don't wait until allergy season starts. The sooner the better!
So just how can you add turmeric into your diet? There are several ways. Turmeric comes in form of fresh turmeric root, dried root powder, capsules, tinctures, and fluid extract. Here are some suggested dosages:
- Cut root: 1.5 – 3 g per day
- Dried, powdered root: 1 – 3 g per day
- Standardized powder (curcumin): 400 – 600 mg, 1-3 times per day
- Fluid extract (1:1) 30 – 90 drops a day
- Tincture (1:2): 15 – 30 drops, 4 times per day
Another important note about turmeric is that is has low levels of bioavailability. In other words, most of the curcumin that is ingested gets metabolized before it is absorbed making it so that we are not getting the full benefit. To counteract this issue, black pepper is suggested to be a perfect pair for turmeric. Piperine is a key chemical in black pepper that gives curcumin more bioavailability which will enhance the absorption levels. Adding healthy fats such as coconut oil or avocados also help with curcumin absorption.
Using turmeric daily can be as simple as sprinkling some dried root powder over your food each day. Sprinkle a little on an avocado, add some to your smoothie, in some eggs, salad dressings, etc. It is virtually undetectable. One of my favorite ways to enjoy it is in the form of a nice hot cup of tea. When selecting turmeric, stick to high quality, organic products to ensure it is free from pesticides and irradiation.
Here are some recipes in which I have incorporated turmeric:
Remember, turmeric can be added to pretty much anything. A word of caution though, it stains! So wash your hands thoroughly after handling turmeric. Another thing to be aware of is some individuals may experience side effects from taking turmeric. Upset stomach, diarrhea, and nausea have been reported. Turmeric is a known blood thinner so keep that in mind as well. It is also a uterine stimulant which can encourage menstrual flow so if you are pregnant or nursing, talk to your doctor before adding it into your regimen. It is best to start with a low dose and work your way up if you remain side effect free.
So I am curious, do you have any success stories about turmeric that you would like to share? I'm anxious to hear all about how this wonder spice has improved your life!