In the spice world, turmeric is the gold standard when it comes to healing properties — both in Eastern and Western medicine. Turmeric is traditionally used to add flavor to and preserve dishes, such as curries in Indian cuisine. In Ayurvedic medicine, this same herb is used to relieve inflammatory illnesses. In Western herbal medicine, turmeric is valued to ease sore muscles and arthritis. You may know Turmeric from its yellow or orange pigment, which is called curcumin.
“Curcumin is the primary pharmacological agent in turmeric. In numerous studies, curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effects have been shown to be comparable to the potent drugs hydrocortisone and phenylbutazone as well as over the counter anti-inflammatory agents like Motrin, Advil, and Aleve. Unlike the drugs, which are associated with significant toxic effects, curcumin produces no toxicity.”
Turmeric is also rich in manganese (another strong anti-inflammatory and a brilliant healer of tired, arthritic joints), vitamin B6, iron and fiber. When you use it in small doses, turmeric is like a chameleon to the flavors you mix it with – it conveniently takes on the flavor profile of the rest of the dish. Because of this, there are literally dozens of ways you can incorporate turmeric into your weekly diet:
Turmeric Milk: we love this warm, soothing drink anytime of day, but especially before bed. It goes will with all types of milk (almond, soy, cashew, coconut, etc) and we always include a pinch of ground black pepper. Black pepper contains piperine, an active compound which drastically increases the bioavailability of curcumin (in other words, it helps your body absorb it and gets into your bloodstream faster). Be sure to keep stirring as you drink it – the turmeric likes to settle on the bottom of your cup.
Tasty Turmeric “Bombs”: next time you want to pop an Advil or Motrin, try this quick and easy snack instead. The quercertin power isn’t 100% necessary if you don’t already have some laying around. Quercertin is a powerful phytonutrient found in potatoes, garlic, onions, and even apples, and you will greatly increase curcumin’s effectiveness by eating more of these foods throughout the week.
And this is just the beginning! There are tons of turmeric-rich recipes online. Remember that using small amounts of turmeric will make it impossible to taste. We make a regular habit of sprinkling turmeric on salads, scrambled eggs, into soups, salad dressings and smoothies, and much more.
Insider Tip: take extra care when cooking with turmeric, as it will leave it’s yellow mark on everything it comes into contact with… fingers, pots and pans, dishes, mugs, glass cups. Have a rag handy to wipe off counter/stove tops when necessary. The yellow tinge comes off after a quick wash, but you may not have the same luck with your clothes!
Have you always wanted to add more healing herbs to your cooking? Or maybe you’re new to cooking and would like to learn more about healthy, nourishing ingredients? No matter the level of culinary prowess, our Herbs that Heal series will guide beginners and experts alike through one new herb a month. You can use these herbs to enhance your enjoyment of both cooking and eating!