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 we will go into more detail about turmeric benefits and side effects. You will also find a recipe for the tasty and healing homemade turmeric paste that I eat every day to boost my health, and which can be enjoyed by the whole family.
What Is Turmeric Used For?
Healthful turmeric is a plant of the ginger family. Also known as Zingiberaceae, it 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 spice.
Chronic inflammation is now thought to be at the heart of many modern day diseases,and, being as turmeric is such an effective, natural anti inflammatory supplement it explains its 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 before. Be it in the form of supplement capsules, teas, sprays, tinctures or powder. 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 it and seen the benefits for themselves.
Turmeric Paste Recipe
In our house we love to make turmeric paste. It’s a concoction of good quality, organic turmeric powder, black pepper, coconut oil, good quality olive oil, lemon juice and some kind of healthy sweetener. I often add ginger and cinnamon to the mix too for their own unique qualities.
You do not need to add oils to this paste if you eat a whole foods plant based diet.
TURMERIC MAY HELP A COUGH
It so happens that my mum had this chesty cough that she just couldn’t shift for the last 3 months. She’d tried everything from cough medicines to antibiotics. Plus, she was already 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 that she couldn’t believe it had disappeared so fast. Said she knew 100% it was down to the turmeric
Turmeric absorption rate
There’s a lot of research reporting that turmeric needs to be taken alongside other components for maximum absorption. This is probably the reason why this particular turmeric paste remedy worked so well for my Mum.
The 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 better.
Turmeric Is A Superfood
Along with the benefits already discussed, turmeric also has a long list of other reasons why you should be eating it every day. And, more and more studies are offering evidence of the power of turmeric are emerging every day.
You will notice that sometimes I use the word curcumin. But, curcumin 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.
There are different schools of though about high dose curcumin extract. Yes, numerous studies show it to be effective, but the powder alone can also have amazing benefits.
Our advice is to leave high dose curcumin to be recommended by your practitioner or Doctor. Take only the whole food turmeric until you get told any different by an expert.
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. Many Medical Herbalists also believe this too!
Absorbability of turmeric
Their is a notion about the ‘absorbability’ of fractured foods, which is exactly why we recommend the whole food.
Don’t forget there are many cultures who eat natural turmeric in their diet every day and do not suffer diseases on the huge scale that Westerners do. They also mostly don’t use supplements of any kind.
However, this doesn’t necessarily apply to all supplements. There are times when you do need very high doses of certain nutrients only if prescribed by a professional.
For preventative purposes take the time to prepare the paste as it is an actual proper food with substance.
When taken before meals, turmeric paste can help satiate you and prevent over eating . So, potentially 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
1. ANTI INFLAMMATORY
Long term and chronic inflammation is a major, modern problem. It is believed to play a role in many chronic diseases, including Alzheimer’s, dementia, some cancers, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and other degenerative conditions.
Chronic inflammation can also cause hair loss that can be very distressing. The curcumin’s in turmeric have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. Curcimin has been shown in respected studies 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). It’s these antioxidants that protect your body from the aging that is due to DNA damaging free radicals.
Free radicals cause oxidative damage throughout the body, but antioxidants help neutralise them before they can do this damage. So, we ABSOLUTELY need as many antioxidants as we can get from many plant sources.
For maximum results you should also be eating an antioxidant rich plant based diet containing lots of fruits, vegetables, nut, seeds and pulses. All of which contain high amounts of nutrients, phytochemicals and antioxidant compounds.
And, as if that’s not enough, curcumin also helps boost your body’s own natural antioxidant enzymes. This may give you even more protection.
3. MAY BOOST BDNF
Curcumin boosts levels of a brain hormone called BDNF, otherwise known as your brain function hormone. This means it may be capable of helping degenerative problems, though more studies are needed.
There is a more than likely a chance it can also improve memory and learning too. So, turmeric may make you smarter.
4. MAY BE HEART HEALTHY
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 potentially 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.
Turmeric may also help other factors that are all a major drivers of heart disease.
Although there are several forms of arthritis, they are all based on inflammation of the joints. Again, as we know turmeric to be an 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 definitive answers.
It is also worth noting that, for this particular problem, you may need the curcumin extract and not just turmeric powder. The extract is where most of its anti inflammatory action lies, but again, get the opinion of a professional.
8. POTENTIAL MOOD BENEFITS
Depression has been associated with inflammation. Therefore, it stands to reason that curcumin’s anti inflammatory properties may help combat this terrible illness, alongside other medical treatment methods.
In one study it was shown that curcumin supplements lead to significantly better improvement in atypical depression compared to a placebo. This is more than likely due to the fact that curcumin helps lower inflammation.
It also boosts the BNDF levels, which may 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. Both of which play a major role in depressive illness.
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 episodes in the future.
Do not self treat or diagnose this serious illness, instead seek the advice of your Doctor.
When it comes to depression, it is best to be hit from a few different angles and healthy lifestyle changes. There is probably no one thing that will work long term if your depression is really severe. But, you we encourage you to take action as soon as possible to ensure a better outcome.
Again, 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 be experimented with in small amounts first to find your gut tolerance level.
If you are new to turmeric, you may find it gives you a slight upset stomach or diarrhea if you take too much. That is why you should start with a little to 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.
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 this turmeric powder paste, you should be mindful of where you source your turmeric. Some brands may have nasty fillers, chemicals and colourings.
To be sure you’re getting good quality always buy from reputable brands. And, always 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 like this one at Amazon to 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 the mixture.
- Once cool, store in the fridge and eat a teaspoon (or more if you already have inflammation problems) 2-3 times a day.
- You can even 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 golden milk drink.
- Taking a teaspoon of the paste before before a meal is satiating and will stop you from eating too much, thus making it also good for weight control.
Turmeric can be a healthy addition to your already healthy diet. What you eat as your main diet will always dictate your health as opposed to one thing alone.
If you have any of the diseases or illnesses discussed above, always consult a professional before taking any supplements.
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This turmeric paste will be an amazing addition to your diet and health regime.