For centuries, Curcuma Longa (the root of the turmeric plant) has been widely used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat a variety of conditions. This traditional Indian practice puts our favorite yellow spice at the epicenter of thought and education, as it’s one of the oldest systems of medicine in the world. There are some truly great benefits turmeric can have with some of the more common health risks and conditions we face today, and can easily be added as a preventative health care measure.
Inflammation is the root cause to a multitude of diseases. Turmeric’s main active ingredient, curcumin, is known for its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can render protection when our bodies have fallen victim to inflammatory risks. Multiple studies show curcumin having positive impacts on inflammation and its inhibiting factors. In vitro, animals, and even humans (6 safe human trials), were shown to exhibit turmerics positive effects on inflammation. There are many factors that come into play with inflammation, and these studies proved curcumin’s inhibition for a multitude of these molecules. Another informative study on curcumin showed its impact on brain injuries, specifically, and its inhibiting power to reduce cerebral inflammation.
Also known as degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) impacts millions of Americans and can be debilitating especially as we age. Being the most common chronic condition of our joints, it breaks down and damages cartilage and tissue between our bones and reduces the cushion that supports us in our mobile states. As we are always on the go, OA can have major setbacks for us on a daily basis, like overall pain (ouch). Like many other conditions, an overall unhealthy living style will put our bodies at a greater risk. Since OA is a degenerative disease, preventative care is significant. Some recent research shows that turmeric (curcumin) can be a power play to reduce pain and improve overall function with OA, even as good as ibuprofen! A recent study, was shown to inhibit the activation of inflammasome NLRP3, which led to the downregulation of inflammatory cytokines to improve inflammation. The research on OA specifically, is more recent, so there is still a lot more to explore in the field. Turmeric isn’t a quick cure for anything, but it has lasting benefits for our bodies that we hope others will explore.
In the above video, and in our previous blog: The Golden Spice (Part 1: Nutrition), we always recommend adding pepper to any turmeric dish to make a greater impact. If using for more medicinal purposes there are higher doses that would create more results. Below are some recommended amounts (from Herbalist Rosalee de la Forêt) to attain greater benefits. Everybody is different, so when taking any supplements, we always recommend talking to a care provider that is familiar with herbal supplements, like our partners RootsWholeHealth or Lily Kunning, when it comes to dosage.
The therapeutic amount for turmeric is as follows:
-Cut root: 1.5 to 3 grams per day
-As powder: 1 to 10 grams per day
-As tincture: 1:2, 60% alcohol, 2 to 4 mL, 2 to 3 times per day3 (less common)
There are some precautions to consider with any supplement, especially if they are a new addition or other conditions are involved. Turmeric, if taken too much, can produce hot flashes or night sweats, or even produce an unusual thirst. People with blood-clotting disorders (taking blood thinners) also need to be cognizant of larger doses of turmeric, which can have a negative impact. We loved this write up from Herbalist Lilly Kuning and her blog, All about Turmeric. She has a great review on our favorite bright spice, and it’s positive benefits, but also dives into the precautions that we should be wary of.
Turmeric has many medicinal purposes, and to indulge right away as a thirst-quenching tonic, enjoy this soothing tea, by Maribeth Evezich, MSN (‘06), RD, CDN. It’s a delightful therapeutic or post-workout recovery drink:
3 cups coconut water (or filtered water)
1⁄2 cup fresh ginger slices (one 2-inch knob)
1⁄4 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
6 fresh mint sprigs
1 tbsp dried turmeric
1⁄4 tsp cardamom
1⁄8 tsp sea salt
1⁄8 tsp black pepper (or cayenne)
2 tsp raw honey (optional)
1⁄4 cup full-fat coconut milk (optional)
Combine all the ingredients in a sealable, BPA-free 750 ml (at least 3 cups) container, such as a Nalgene bottle.
Add more filtered water or coconut water (including optional coconut milk) to the top and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to drink, strain and serve over ice.
This recipe works with or without a juicer, and with either fresh or powdered turmeric. To process the roots, a blender is recommended, but make sure to add in a small amount of filtered or coconut water to blend properly.
If you have any favorite turmeric drink recipes (like Dr. Khaira's Golden Milk recipe) please share below!