If you know anything about me, you probably know that I am certifiably obsessed with herbal medicine
(And no, I’m not just talking about that one stinky green herb everybody seems to think of first…that discussion will have to wait for another day.)
My love affair is with the plants that you find in forests and lawns.
The unexpected garden flower that can help cure an ulcer. The beautiful bitter berry that can is so powerful it can replace antibiotics.
Indeed, many of these herbs are so strong that they should only be used under the direction of an experienced practitioner.
But what’s really exciting to me is the world of culinary herbs.
These beauties don’t just add spice to your dishes. They can actually help to heal what ails you right from your plate.
Sure you can take them as supplements as well.
But when food becomes medicine, well, that’s where I transform into even more of a dork than I might otherwise appear to be.
One of the most potent of these herbs is turmeric, and my goal is that by the end of this article you’ll be swooning over it as much as I am.
Turmeric’s health benefits are numerous, but before we get into those, can we just take a moment to admire it’s beauty?
I mean, that color!
Talk about stunning.
Turmeric is a leafy green plant, but its power hides under the surface of the earth in its root.
At first you might mistake it for ginger, but when you slice it open the distinction becomes unmistakable.
Turmeric has a bright golden orange color that, much like beet juice, will stain everything it comes in contact with. If you use the fresh root the evidence will grace your fingernails for at least a day afterward!
Turmeric can be used fresh or, more commonly, in its powdered form, and it has an earthy flavor that’s subtle and anything but overwhelming.
Turmeric is warming and drying in nature.
This means that it’s especially good for people who run cold and have a tendency toward water retention (phlegmatic and melancholic constitutions), but it is balanced enough to benefit even the most hot-headed amongst us as long as it isn’t consumed in excess.
According to Dr. Sharol Marie Tilgner (in her book Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth, which I refer to as one of my herbal bibles), turmeric’s health benefits include:
- Helps prevent arthritis
- Lowers cholesterol
- Fights cancer/tumors
- Stimulates digestive enzymes
- Lowers blood pressure
…and that’s just a few of its benefits.
Turmeric has also been shown to:
- Improve mental dullness
- Reduce confusion
- Calm mania
- Increase blood flow in the pelvis
- Decongest the liver
- Improve digestion and movement throughout the body
In a survey of more than 6000 studies, Dr. Axe has demonstrated that turmeric is more effective than 10 common drugs at helping to cure some of the most prevalent illnesses, including:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Anti-depressants (Prozac)
- Anti-coagulants (Aspirin)
- Pain killers
- Diabetes drugs (Metformin)
- Arthritis medications
- Inflammatory bowel disease drugs
- Cholesterol drugs (Lipitor)
- severe colicky pain and cramps
- abdominal distention and flatulence
- anxiety, fearfulness,
But wait, we’re not done yet.
In her book Prescriptions for Herbal Healing (another one of my go-to books when it comes to herbal medicine) Phyllis A. Balch adds that turmeric’s health benefits also extend to:
- Whole body cleansing
- Wound healing
- Skin ulcers
- Bleeding issues
- Chest congestion
- Halitosis and periodontal disease
- Ulcerative Colitis
- And heat stroke
How do I use turmeric?
Well first off, I always use it with black pepper.
Why, you ask?
Because the secret ingredient in turmeric, the golden ticket that unlocks this incredible world of healing benefits is curcumin, and curcumin is turned on by black pepper.
So if you want to boost turmeric’s power, make sure you don’t forget to pair her up with her hubby, black pepper.
The recipes that include turmeric are seemingly endless, but one of the most obvious ways to incorporate it into your life is through any golden curry.
You can also just sprinkle a tablespoon (or even just a teaspoon or two) of turmeric into simple dishes like rice, meatballs, chicken seasoning, soups, and so on. The flavor is mild enough that you usually don’t notice it, but the health benefits and the color will shine through!
Want to know my personal favorite turmeric recipe?
Here you go:
- 1-2 tablespoons of fresh turmeric root, finely chopped. (Option to add a teaspoon of turmeric powder or replace completely with turmeric powder when turmeric root is unavailable.)
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, finely chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon black pepper corns + a few turns from the pepper grinder
- Optional 3 cinnamon sticks, cinnamon powder
- 2 quarts of water
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil per serving
- 1-2 tablespoons coconut milk per serving
- Honey to taste
Bring the water to a boil with the turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and black pepper. Turn heat down, cover, and let simmer for at least 20 minutes. Strain or ladle liquid out into mugs, add coconut and honey to taste, add extra turmeric powder and/or cinnamon powder if desired. Serve hot.
Whenever I feel a headache coming on I whip up a batch of this tea as soon as I can.
Turbo-charge it with extra turmeric powder, a few extra grinds of black pepper, and swig it down, followed by a cup of the more diluted version.
It’s the only headache remedy I’ve ever found to work for me, but the tea is delicious regardless of need!
Now I’d love to hear from you.
What are your favorite ways to use turmeric?
Leave a comment in the comments section and share your ideas, I’d love to try them out!
Until next time,
Love, hugs, and edible gold,
PS. Want more info on turmeric and curcumin? Check out this awesome article over at Health Ambition!