I never stop hearing fantastic things about the benefits of the anti inflammatory spice turmeric lately, it seems the world has gone crazy for it – and for good reason, as it’s protection against so many illnesses and diseases is starting to become mind blowingly apparent.
In this post I will go into more depth of 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 known as Zingiberaceae, and is native to India and South East Asia where it is eaten every day, and used in many dishes. It is also used traditionally in Chinese and Indian medicine as a powerful antioxidant and anti inflammatory.
Chronic inflammation is the root cause of many illnesses and diseases and turmeric is the most effective anti inflammatory, natural supplement known.
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. It is all hugely popular and we can barely keep up with demand.
This has led me to have a greater understanding of the powers of turmeric, through this first hand personal customer feedback. I often hear stories from customers who simply cannot live without turmeric, especially in the fight against inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and Alzeimer’s.
I recently heard a testimony from a man who told me he was crippled with arthritis a couple of years ago, and at the time was on a cocktail of drugs from the doc, which as usual had a list of side effects as long as both of your arms. Anyway, long story short, this guy had started making this ‘turmeric paste‘ he called it, and he told me that it helped his condition so much that he no longer takes any medications and has no pain or 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 it also, down to the turmeric!
I’m not saying for a minute you should stop taking all medications and start taking turmeric to cure all your ills, that wouldn’t be my place or responsibility. I’m simply telling you what I know, and what I’ve been told in the feedback I get in my job.
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 made this paste for myself, and I’ve got to say it tasted yummy, but I did need to sweeten it with a natural sugar free sweetener (I used Xylitol).
This leads me onto another success story as I then took a jar of it up to my parents and told them to eat 2-3 teaspoons a day – being as they are 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 happens 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 turmeric capsules already.
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, she couldn’t believe it had disappeared so fast and said she knew 100% it was down to the turmeric.
I can only presume after hearing this that the powerful anti inflammatory properties of this turmeric paste had worked their magic. I was elated, and this is the catalyst for this post so should share these findings with others.
There is a lot of research reprting that turmeric needs to be taken with other components for maximum absorption – which 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 worked like an absolute charm.
A True Super Food!
Along with the benefits I’ve already discussed, turmeric also has a long list of others. More and more studies offering proof and evidence of turmeric’s super food power 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 supplement may be needed, but this should be taken alongside the other compounds mentioned above to 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. This still worked for him, and maybe better… who knows. But some experts believe that the body reacts much better to eating the ‘whole food’, as it is more natural than high does extracts.
Their is also a notion about the ‘absorbability‘ of fractured foods such as high dose extracted compound supplements – but you should definitely test this for yourself, and this doesn’t apply to ALL supplements. Don’t forget the fact that their 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.
For preventative purposes, I would take the time to prepare the paste as it is a proper ‘food‘ with substance. And if taken before meals will help satiate you and prevent you from over eating, which also makes it great for weight control. 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:
Long term and chronic inflammation can become a major problem, and is now believed to play a role in pretty much every western chronic disease. This includes alzheimer’s, dementia, 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. Please visit this page ‘Inflammation and Hair Loss’ for tips and advice on how to grow your lovely locks back.
The curcumins in turmeric have a powerful anti inflammatory effect and have been proven to match the effectiveness of some anti inflammatory drugs, 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 our bodies from the aging that is down to DNA damaging free radicals. These free radicals cause oxidative damage throughout the body, but antioxidants neutralise them before they can do damage, thus making them an anti aging superstar.
Above all that, curcumin also helps boost your body’s own natural antioxidant enzymes, giving a double whammy of protection.
Curcumin boosts levels of a brain hormone called BDNF which is our brain function hormone, therefore delaying or even reversing brain and age related diseases such as alzheimer’s and dementia. This means (although there are no official studies yet) that there is a more than likely chance that it can improve memory and learning – so it can actually makes you smarter!
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 ourselves in general by eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise goes without saying, but there is more you can do like adding turmeric to your diet.
Several studies suggest that adding turmeric into the diet can help improve the endothelium function, (which is the heart blood vessel linings). Endothelial dysfunction means an inability to regulate blood pressure, clotting of the blood, and other factors that are all a major drivers of heart disease.
Multiple studies in laboratory’s show that curcumin can reduce the growth of tumors, the spreading of cancer, and contribute to overall cancer cell death. This study has yet to be tested properly on humans but is something that is looking promising for the future.
There is however evidence of turmeric preventing cancer in the first place, especially for digestive system cancers – giving us yet another sound reason to incorporate it into out diet.
PREVENTION AND TREATMENT OF ALZHEIMER’S:
Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia, and as of yet there is no good treatment available; therefore and especially in this case, prevention 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 precurser’s of alzheimer’s, dementia, and other cognitive disorders.
Although there are several forms of arthritis, they are all based on inflammation of the joints. Turmeric is a potent anti inflammatory, and so it stands to reason that it would help ease this painful condition. In fact, in a study of patients suffering rheumatoid arthritis anti inflammatory drugs were found to be less effective than curcumin.
In a study of 60 patients, it was shown that curcumin lead to results similar to prozac and yet again, without the side effects. This is more than likely due to the fact that curcumin boosts BNDF levels which can help reverse some of the changes in the brain associated with depression.
There is also evidence that the neurotransmitter’s dopamine and serotonin are boosted by curcumin.
Turmeric powder or root when taken in its whole form such as the paste, should 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 to much. I advise to start with a little and build up.
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.
IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: If you are going to make the turmeric powder paste you should be minful of where you source your turmeric, as many have lots of nasty fillers, chemicals and colourings. You MUST buy organic at all times to be sure you have pure, unadulterated turmeric.
If you are buying supplements of curcumin or turmeric in capsules, always buy from a trusted brand and make sure that it is in an absorbable form. I have sourced out a trustworthy brand for you if you decide you may need something easier to take and higher strength.
Turmeric is just one super food you can supplement your diet with, adding other chlorophyll rich super food powders to your diet will really enhance the others.
HOMEMADE TURMERIC PASTE RECIPE
2 tablespoons turmeric powder1 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 olive oil in 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 benefit’s 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 stirbit a couple of times before it is fully chilled to disperse the fats.
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 meal is satiating and will stop you from eating too much – making it also good for weight control.