Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is well known throughout the world as a culinary spice that is characterized by its bright yellow pigment that imparts a golden stain to dishes and a distinct earthy flavour. Turmeric has also been used for centuries as a powerful therapeutic herb and is a staple remedy in traditional Ayurvedic practices.
It is this rhizome of the turmeric plant that houses its active constituents, being found to contain phenolic curcuminoids, the most with the most well-known one being curcumin. It is the curcuminoids that give turmeric its vibrant yellow/orange pigment. Turmeric rhizome also contains essential oils and immune-stimulating polysaccharide compounds called ukonan’s.
The use of Turmeric dates back nearly 4000 years where it was used in Indian Vedic culture, being a predominant culinary spice, herbal remedy, dye for clothing and was also used in some religious and spiritual ceremonies.
Traditional Ayurvedic practices utilised Turmeric to aid a variety of health concerns, such as poor digestion, gastric ulcers, common cold, joint aches and pains, catarrhal coughs and topical skin complaints like wounds, infection and eczema.
Uses of Turmeric today
Modern medicine has begun to recognise the potential of Turmeric for health and wellbeing, with thousands of research papers having been published that focus on the actions of Turmeric as a whole or on the active compound curcumin.
This powerful antioxidant herb is often utilized in Western herbal medicine and its use may be considered in the context of individuals with gastrointestinal distress (gas, bloating, bowel fluctuations), supporting healthy joint function and encourage healthy liver and gallbladder function.
Turmeric is a superior herb for looking after our digestive and liver health. It helps to support healthy levels of mucous in the digestive tract (so our intestinal lining is protected from gastric acid and other irritants), can support the production of bile salts by the gallbladder to ensure fats are easily broken down for digestion and can help support a healthy of beneficial bacteria that encourages a healthy microbiome.
It can also help to support comfort and mobility in our joints, protect our brain health and encourage radiant skin due to its nature as a potent antioxidant.
How to use
There are many ways in which to enjoy the benefits of Turmeric, from using the fresh root in cooking to taking nutritional supplements.
- Cooking with Turmeric
Turmeric is extremely versatile in cooking and is a great addition to curries, soups and other savoury dishes. While is colour is bright the flavour is earthy and mild, meaning you can add it to nearly any savoury dish to gain reap its health benefits.
Use fresh root (grated) or dried powder when cooking and pair with some healthy fat (like coconut oil or milk) and black pepper to assist in best absorption of curcumin.
You can also add fresh turmeric juice to smoothies, homemade gummies or other sweet treats for added antioxidants and a gentle immune boost.
- Turmeric supplements
The growing popularity of Turmeric for helping our joints, immune system and digestion has led to an explosion of Turmeric supplements on the market. These supplements can come in a number of different forms and contain differing quantities of the important active nutrient curcumin.
You may see the following supplements available in health stores or pharmacies:
- Whole Turmeric powder
- Curcumin extract (like Green Trading’s Organic Curcumin capsules)
- Liposomal Turmeric
In a previous blog post we covered all the ways you can absorb the maximum benefits of Turmeric and discuss the different supplementary forms, click here to read it now.
Safety considerations: Please consult your medical practitioner before making any dietary changes or introducing new nutritional supplements. Caution is advised for those taking blood thinning medications.