It seems the world has gone crazy lately for the powerful anti inflammatory spice that is turmeric, and for good reason as its protection against diseases is now becoming increasingly apparent.
In this post I will go into more detail about turmeric benefits and side effects, and also give you a recipe for the tasty and healing homemade turmeric paste that I eat every day and which can be enjoyed by all the family.
WHAT IS TURMERIC USED FOR?
Turmeric is a plant of the ginger family and is also known as Zingiberaceae. It is native to India and south east Asia where it is eaten every day and used in many dishes, and it is also used traditionally in Chinese and Indian medicine as a powerful antioxidant and anti inflammatory.
Chronic inflammation is now thought to be at the heart of many modern day illnesses and diseases, and as turmeric is such an effective, all natural anti inflammatory supplement it explains its huge and still growing popularity.
In the Herbal Apothecary where I work I have noticed lately (and even more so in the last few months) that people are buying up more turmeric than ever, be it in the form of supplement capsules, teas, sprays, tinctures or powder. Yes, it has all become hugely popular these last few years in particular.
This has led me to have a greater understanding of the powers of turmeric through first hand personal customer feedback. I often hear stories from people who simply cannot live without their turmeric once they have begun supplementing with it and seen the benefits for themselves, especially in the fight against inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and Alzheimer’s.
Very recently heard a testimony from a man who told me he was crippled with arthritis a couple of years ago, and was at the time was on a cocktail of drugs from the doc which as usual had a list of side effects as long as your arm. However, long story short, this guy had started making a ‘turmeric paste’ or so he called it, and he told me that it helped his condition so much that he no longer takes any medications OR has pain and inflammation anymore.
He also gives it to his 95 year old father who is still as nimble as a flea and sharp as a tack… at 95! He puts this down to the turmeric also.
Now I’m only telling you what I’ve been told through one man’s personal experience, and I’m not saying for a minute you should stop taking all medications and start taking turmeric to cure all your ills as that just wouldn’t be my place. I’m simply telling you what I know, and what I’ve been told in the feedback I get at work.
Turmeric Paste Recipe:-
Obviously I got the recipe for this amazing turmeric paste from the gentleman, which contains along with the turmeric all the components needed for maximum absorption such as black pepper and fats, plus other ingredients that work well alongside it like ginger and lemon.
I went home that evening and made this wonder paste for myself, and I’ve got to say it tasted pretty good contrary to my concerns. However, I did need to sweeten mine with a natural sugar free sweetener (I used Xylitol), but you could probably use raw honey too which has its own benefits.
This leads me onto another success story – I took a jar of the paste to my parents and told them to eat 2-3 teaspoons a day, as they are now of an age now where they will start becoming more susceptible to illness I though this would be great for them, and it was!
FANTASTIC COUGH MEDICINE
It so happens that my mum had this chesty cough that she just couldn’t shift for the last 3 months, and she’d tried everything from cough medicines to antibiotics, plus she was on actual turmeric capsules already which just weren’t cutting it.
When I gave her the turmeric paste I wasn’t even thinking that it would do anything for her cough, but she phoned me only a couple of days later and told me that her cough had completely gone and she couldn’t believe it had disappeared so fast. Said she knew 100% it was down to the turmeric
There’s a lot of research reporting that turmeric needs to be taken alongside other components for maximum absorption, and is probably the reason why this remedy worked so well for my mum. The particular capsules she was already taking were just turmeric powder alone and so it seems didn’t have the power to shift her chesty cough. But when she took the paste at higher doses AND mixed with all the other anti inflammatory components it then worked like an absolute charm.
Turmeric is a true Superfood!
Along with the benefits I’ve already discussed, turmeric also has a long list of other reasons why you should take it and more and more studies offering proof and evidence of turmeric’s superfood powers are emerging every day.
You will notice that sometimes I use the word curcumin, which is actually the extracted active compound of turmeric and can only be found in large doses in tablet or capsule form. Actual turmeric powder contains only about 2% curcumin by weight.
In some cases where disease has already taken hold a high dose curcumin supplements may be needed, but this should be taken alongside the other compounds mentioned above to help aid absorption. Many supplements don’t provide these all in one so you have to shop about for good quality.
There are different schools of though about high dose curcumin extract. Yes, numerous studies show it to be effective, and it absolutely is; but look at my example above of the man who already had terrible arthritis and healed himself through the paste.
This paste would have only had a fraction of the curcumin in it as opposed to a high strength curcumin extract supplement, but this still worked for him, and maybe better – who knows. Some experts believe that the body reacts much better to eating the ‘whole food’ as it is more natural and absorbable in the body than super high does extracts, which totally makes sense to me.
Absorbability of Turmeric:-
As their is a notion about the ‘absorbability’ of fractured foods (such as high dose extracted compound supplements), you should definitely test this for yourself and see how they work for you. Don’t forget the fact there are cultures who eat natural turmeric in their diet every day who do not suffer diseases on the huge scale that we do, and they mostly don’t use supplements of any kind. However, this doesn’t necessarily apply to ALL supplements as there are times when you do need very high doses of certain nutrients.
For preventative purposes, I would take the time to prepare the paste as it is an actual proper food with substance, and when taken before meals will help satiate you and prevent you from over eating – so great for weight control too! A teaspoon a day (one before each meal ideally) would be a good amount for prevention purposes, but for helping with ailments that are already there you may need more (up to a dessert spoon before each meal) until symptoms have subsided.
Turmeric Benefits and Side Effects – Homemade Turmeric Paste
1. ANTI INFLAMMATORY
Long term and chronic inflammation is a major modern problem believed to play a role in many chronic diseases. This includes Alzheimer’s, dementia, some cancers, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and many other degenerative conditions.
Chronic inflammation can also cause hair loss which can be very distressing, especially for women. The curcumins in turmeric have a powerful anti inflammatory effect, and have now been proven to match the effectiveness of some anti inflammatory drugs, and all without the rotten side effects.
Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant (one of the most powerful there is), and it’s these antioxidants that protect your body from the aging that is due to DNA damaging free radicals. These free radicals cause oxidative damage throughout the body and antioxidants neutralise them before they can do damage, thus making them an anti aging superstar.
And as if that’s not enough, curcumin also helps boost your body’s own natural antioxidant enzymes, giving you a double whammy of protection.
3. BRAIN FUNCTION
Curcumin boosts levels of a brain hormone called BDNF, which is your brain function hormone. This means it is capable of delaying or even reversing brain and age related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, which means (although there are no official studies yet) that there is a more than likely a chance it can also improve memory and learning too – so turmeric may actually makes you smarter!
4. LOWER RISK OF HEART DISEASE
As the biggest killer in the world, heart disease is something we all need to be aware of and already be taking preventative measures towards. Looking after yourself in general by eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise goes without saying, but there is more you can do, such as adding turmeric to your diet.
Several studies suggest that adding turmeric into the diet can help improve your endothelium function (which is the heart blood vessel linings). Endothelial dysfunction means an inability to regulate blood pressure and clotting of the blood, plus it also helps other factors that are all a major drivers of heart disease.
5. POSSIBLE CANCER PREVENTION
Some studies in laboratories have shown that curcumin can reduce the growth of tumors and the spreading of cancer, AND contribute to overall cancer cell death. These studies has yet to be tested properly on humans but is something that is looking promising for the future.
There is however more evidence of turmeric may help prevent cancer in the first place, especially for digestive system cancers, giving you yet another sound reason to incorporate this spice into your diet. Remember that no one thing will help prevent a serious disease like cancer, rather the combination of many lifestyle choices such as not smoking, eating a healthy diet, and taking frequent exercise.
Caution: Never attempt to treat cancer with alternative therapies without consulting your doctor first as they could interact with other drugs and treatment.
6. POSSIBLE PREVENTION OF ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE
Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia, and as of yet there is no good treatment available for this debilitating disease. Therefore prevention, if possible, is definitely better than cure considering there isn’t one.
Curcumin has been shown to cross the blood brain barrier where it is then able to do what it does best and help protect the brain from inflammation and oxidative damage, both of which are precursors of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other cognitive disorders. As of yet there are no clear studies on whether curcumin can actually prevent Alzheimer’s alone, and again it will be in combination with other lifestyle factors. But it is and anti inflammatory spice, and it has been shown that inflammation can be a pre-curser to Alzheimer’s disease.
Although there are several forms of arthritis they are all based on inflammation of the joints. As turmeric is a known anti inflammatory it stands to reason that it could also help ease this painful condition. Some small studies so far are showing that curcumin supplements are indeed helping reduce the pain and inflammation caused by arthritis, but bigger studies need to be done for difinitive answers. It is also worth noting that for this particular problem may need the curcumin extract and not just turmeric powder as this is where most of its anti inflammatory action lies.
Depression has been associated with inflammation, so it stands to reason that curcumin’s anti inflammatory properties may help combat this terrible illness alongside other treatment methods. In one study it was shown that curcumin supplements lead to significantly better improvement in atypical depression compared a placebo. This is more than likely due to the fact that curcumin helps lower inflammation and boosts the BNDF levels which can help reverse some of the changes in the brain associated with depression. There is also evidence that the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin are boosted by curcumin.
Help for depression sufferers:-
As depression can be a very serious illness it is vital that you take charge and takes steps towards making yourself better as soon as possible. The sooner you receive help the better the outlook, especially when it comes to a recurring episode in the future. Please read these 5 depression busting tips that need to be done alongside turmeric for best results.
When it comes to depression, it is best to be hit from a few different angles and lifestyle changes. There is probably no one thing will work long term if it’s really severe, and you need to take action as soon as possible to ensure a better outcome. It is vital that you consult your doctor for further advice and to discuss your treatment options.
TURMERIC SIDE EFFECTS:
Turmeric powder or root when taken in its whole form such as in this paste, should first be experimented with to find gut tolerance. If you are new to turmeric you may find it gives you a slight upset stomach, or maybe diarrhea if you take too much, so I always advise to start with a little to build up your gut tolerance.
Curcumin extract when taken in high doses is still considered very safe to use, but rare side effects may include headache, diarrhea, digestive problems, skin rash, and in some cases can contribute to gallstones. It is advised to take a break from turmeric for a few days every couple of weeks or so to be on the safe side.
If you are going to make the turmeric powder paste then you should be mindful of where you source your turmeric because some may have lots of nasty fillers, chemicals, and colourings. To be sure you are getting good quality always buy from reputable brands, OR buy organic to be sure you are getting pure, unadulterated turmeric.
If you’re buying supplements of curcumin, or turmeric in capsules, then buy from a trusted brand and make sure that it is in an absorbable form.
HOMEMADE TURMERIC PASTE RECIPE:-
- 2 tablespoons turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon ginger powder
- 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
- grated rind and juice of 2 lemons (optional, but make it taste nice)
- 1 tablespoon of black pepper
- Xylitol or another natural sweetener to taste (if you feel you need it)
- About 50-100ml water
- Put everything except the olive oil into a saucepan and heat until just below boiling.
- Take off heat immediately.
- Leave to cool right down before adding the olive oil (extra virgin olive oils benefits are destroyed by heating). Sometimes the liquid seems to curdle, but take no notice of this as it still tastes the same.
- Put into a glass jar and keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. The fat may separate, so to avoid this you can stir it a couple of times before it is fully chilled to disperse them.
- Once cool store in the fridge and eat a teaspoon (or more if you already have problems) 2-3 times a day.
- You can add to warm water or smoothies if you prefer to make a drink out of it.
- If you haven’t decided to add lemon into the recipe then the paste goes down nicely in a warm nut milk as a bedtime drink.
- Taking a teaspoon of the paste before before a meal is satiating and will stop you from eating too much – making it also good for weight control.
Along with your turmeric paste you should also consider taking a shot of a green superfood powder every day as this will help boost your antioxidant intake even further and is yet another highly alkaline, anti inflammatory food. Drinking your greens adds to your vegetable intake and helps towards your 7 a day portion of veggies. Plus it’s just so easy to do, especially when you find getting your quota of greens hard.
Thank you for reading this post today. I know this turmeric paste will be an amazing addition to your diet and if you have any questions please let me know in the comments box below and I will be happy to help.