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Turmeric, known for is anti-inflammatory properties and used medicinally for over 4,000 years, is excellent for arthritis, skin health, digestion, immune system, and even cancer. A staple of Indian food traditions for millennia it has a long history of healing use (over 4000 years) in Ayurvedic, Traditional Chinese, and Siddhic medicinal traditions. Turmeric’s role in Hindu devotional and sacred ceremonies is alluded to by one of its Sanskrit names: Kanchani, the “Golden Goddess,” perhaps so called because its beautiful golden hue generously bestows healing to a wide range of ailments.Indeed, traditional Ayurvedic use includes turmeric as healing agent for skin abrasions, GI tract inflammation, aches and pains, and liver disorders, while modern research confirms the anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties of turmeric.
The characteristic golden hue is produced by curcumin, the constituent in turmeric most isolated and studied by scientists, but the whole herb is used in herbal traditions and has also been the subject of many favorable studies.
Antioxidants scavenge free radicals and help to reduce or prevent damage and inflammation caused by free radicals, and anti-inflammatory agents block enzymes that promote inflammation and pain. Turmeric is often used in an Ayurvedic approach to reduce inflammation of the throat and tonsils, and as an anti-inflammatory herb for many other aches and pains. A randomized 2009 study examined the efficacy and safety of turmeric in patients with knee arthritis (an inflammatory condition), concluding that turmeric was as effective and as safe as ibuprofen. (Kuptniratsaikul, et al, 2009) Ginger also possesses powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
Antimicrobial herbs inhibit the growth of pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and fungi. A 2009 study on aqueous extract of turmeric showed good antimicrobial action against such pathogens as E. coli and staph. (Niamsa, et al, 2009)
Cholerectics stimulate production of bile, thereby supporting digestion. In Ayurveda, turmeric is a warming herb that kindles digestive fire, or agni. Like other bitter-flavored herbs that stimulate bile production, turmeric is used to promote digestion and alleviate symptoms in the GI tract. A randomized, double-blind crossover study in 1999 used ultrasound to examine the gallbladder after administration of curcumin, leading researchers to conclude that “curcumin induces contraction of the human gall-bladder” (Raysid, et al, 1999).
In a double-blind, placebo controlled study in Thailand, curcumin was compared to placebo and an over-the-counter remedy for indigestion. Eighty-seven percent of the curcumin group had full or partial relief from indigestion after 7 days, compared to 53% of the placebo group. (Thamlikitkul, et al, 1989)Turmeric offers such a dynamic array of health benefits that it’s even being studied in regards to its potential effect on serious diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease. Cardiac specific benefits are its effects on cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar. While studies do not show that it would be a good substitute for cholesterol and diabetes medications, long-term use may help reduce the amount of other medications used in a treatment level.
The medicinal properties of turmeric may not be absorbed well due to its rapid metabolism in the liver and intestines unless it is consumed with black pepper. In a validating example of the time-tested concept of herbal catalysts (herbs that enhance the activity of other herbs), it turns out that the piperine in black pepper enhances the bioavailability of the curcumin in turmeric by 2000% (Shoba et al. 1998)! Note: black pepper may inhibit drug metabolism so should be used with caution, if at all, by those taking pharmaceutical medications.
Whether by incorporating it into cooking or taking it as one of several herbs in a tea, turmeric is at the heart of many different remedies and continues to prove its value after thousands of years of use.
One such tried and true recipe is “Golden Milk,” a traditional Ayurvedic concoction This yummy, warming drink is delicious in the winter and can be served room temperature or slightly warmed if desired. Binnah will be making some delicious variations and is working on the recipe video now. You may also be inteested in our delicious new 'Golden Turmeric Chai Blend' (link)
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