By Shalini Kolluri
My grandma used to say that there was nothing this golden spice couldn’t do. Coming from India, turmeric was used as a home remedy for almost every little ailment. It made frequent appearances in curries, soups and herbal ointments. Initially, I detested this spice as it is the source of some of the most stubborn stains I have seen in my life. However, this wonder spice has grown on me over the years. If used carefully and appropriately, you couldn’t have a healthier ingredient in your kitchen.
Turmeric powder in ayurveda is often referred to as the ‘Queen of Spices,’ its main characteristics are its unique aroma, a sharp taste and a golden-yellow color.
According to the Journal of the American Chemical Society, turmeric contains a wide range of antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, anticarcinogenic, antimutagenic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Turmeric has been used as a substitute for saffron (an old world spice) in Europe for over 700 years. One of the main healthful chemical in turmeric is curcumin (a curcuminoid), which gives turmeric its yellow color. Western scientists first isolated the curcumin molecule in 1815, obtained its crystalline form in 1870, and determined its overall structure in 1910.
Turmeric is native to South Asia, particularly India, but has been cultivated in many warm regions of the world such as – Indochina, Peru, Haiti, Sri Lanka and Jamaica. Peru is the leading exporter and Iran is the largest importer of this spice.
Besides being a coloring and flavoring agent in Indian food, it has numerous medicinal applications in Ayurveda since 5,000 years. It has 46 different synonyms in the Indian languages, including: ‘pitta’ (yellow), ‘Gauri’ (brilliant), and many other words.
It has been shown to treat skin, heart, and liver and lung conditions. In the same vein, they’re thermogenic, meaning they naturally support your metabolism to help you burn calories. You feel satisfied more easily, so you eat less. Studies show that consuming certain herbs and spices before each meal can potentially reduce your caloric intake.
It is also loaded with many healthy nutrients such as protein, dietary fiber, niacin, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc. Due to all these factors, turmeric is often used to treat a wide variety of health problems.
The science behind Turmeric:-
Scientists are beginning to understand the importance of turmeric in modern disease. In both India and Pakistan, where curry/turmeric is a dietary staple, boast much lower incidence of cancer than in other countries where turmeric is not regularly used.
I read that the ongoing studies have shown that curcumin inhibits an enzyme called Topoisomerase, which stops cancer cell growth and proliferation.
The active properties of curcumin are best called ‘protective properties’ as they prevent deterioration of food and possibly help prolong our life span.
Down below, I’ve listed two common home remedies using turmeric.
- Apply a paste of turmeric on the skin before bed, and wash off in two minutes. In the morning remove any remaining yellow tinge with a paste of chickpea flour and sesame oil. Since, turmeric has anti-bacterial and astringent properties, it greatly enhances your skin tone and adds a notable glow. But, keep in mind that you don’t keep it on your skin for over 2 minutes as it can stain your skin deeply.
- A pinch of turmeric is added to a mug of hot boiled milk and mixed. I never add sugar to this but, the taste of turmeric milk eventually grows on you. This is said to relieve minor coughs and a running nose. Turmeric consumed this way is said to have great benefits for people with arthritis.
Precautions while using turmeric
1) Pregnant women are advised not to use turmeric. Turmeric being an anti-inflammatory agent can contribute to stomach ulcers.
2) Normally turmeric in food is safe. However, since it acts as a blood thinner, those who require surgery must stop taking any form of turmeric – food or supplements a couple of weeks before surgery.
3) It can also react with diabetic medication and medication taken to reduce stomach acid.
Turmeric powder is extracted from its root. This humble spice with its sunny color has innumerable benefits when used right. I sincerely hope that you find good use for it.
Down below, I have provided a link describing the step wise process to remove a turmeric stain, in case you get unlucky while using the yellow spice. I suggest you use an apron while using turmeric.
Hope this was informative. I hope you fall in love with turmeric just as I did!