A brief history

"Turmeric’s botanical name is Curcuma longa. The plant reaches barely three feet in height and produces both a flower and a rhizome, or stem that is found underground. The rhizome has an appearance similar to ginger; it is this root-like stem that produces the yellow turmeric spice. Though it can now be found throughout the tropics, India has been the largest producer of turmeric since ancient times.

[...] It was around 500 BCE that turmeric emerged as an important part of Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of natural healing that is still practiced today. Ayurveda translates to “science of life”–ayurmeaning “life” andvedameaning “science or knowledge.”"

[...] In Indian culture, the importance of turmeric goes far beyond medicine. The Hindu religion sees turmeric as auspicious and sacred. There is a wedding day tradition in which a string, dyed yellow with turmeric paste, is tied around the bride’s neck by her groom. This necklace, known as amangala sutra, indicates that the woman is married and capable of running a household. The tradition still continues in Hindu communities and has been compared to the Western exchange of wedding rings. In parts of southern India, a piece of the turmeric rhizome is worn as an amulet for protection against evil spirits." - Tori Avey (read her full article for PBS here)

A few benefits of Turmeric:

Yellow sunshine plant of magical goodness. Turmeric has so many beneficial purposes, with the active component being curcumin. "Several studies have found that the key protective compound in turmeric, called curcumin, reduces inflammation, and its effects are on par with some anti-inflammatory medications."

  1. reduces inflammation / antiinflamatory

  2. acts as an antioxidant

  3. skin health benefits

  4. increases levels of neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the brain ("[...] BDNF acts as a type of growth hormone that protects the brain from age-related decline or damage" - Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD)

  5. improve endothelial function ("[...] the function of the cells that make up the lining of our blood vessels." - Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD)

  6. combating depression ("In one study, a curcumin supplement was found to be as effective as Prozac among people with depression." - Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD)

  7. nutritionally rich ("As per theUSDA, it contains some protein,vitamin C,vitamin B6calcium,iron, dietary fiber,sodium, and about 29 calories in a 1 tablespoon serving of turmeric powder." - FoodData Central)

Easy does it

"I don’t recommend taking turmeric supplements, unless they’ve been prescribed (and will be monitored) by a physician, especially if you're pregnant.

And don’t go overboard with turmeric root or powder. Too much turmeric has been linked to unwanted side effects, including reflux, low blood sugar, increased bleeding risk, reduced iron absorption, and worsened gallbladder problems." - Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD

How I use it

  1. Tea: turmeric powder, cinnamon powder, honey, fresh ginger

  2. Chai Tea: look for loose leaf chia tea with turmeric, I like ____ brand.

  3. Mix into salad dressings

  4. Mix into stir fry

  5. As a natural dye for clothing/etc.

© 2020 Rose Zilber