As a kick-off to our first blog on esmeandsita.com, this is a two part article about the benefits and uses of Turmeric. We all know that this beautiful golden, mustard coloured spice is used for colouring and flavouring foods like yellow mustard and Indian curries. Turmeric has a peppery, warm and bitter flavor with a mild fragrance. It’s now become a Super food and is being studied for its range of medicinal properties. You’ll be surprised to see what a huge powerhouse of a spice it is.
Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and has a tough brown skin and a deep orange flesh. It’s long been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in both the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine. Turmeric is native to Indonesia and southern India, where it has been harvested for more than 5,000 years. It has served an important role in many traditional cultures throughout the East, including being a revered member of the Ayurvedic pharmacopeia. While Arab traders introduced it into Europe in the 13th century, it has only recently become popular in Western cultures. Much of its popularity is owed to the recent research that has highlighted its therapeutic properties. Turmeric is an excellent source of both iron and manganese. It is also a good source of vitamin B6, dietary fiber, and potassium.
Turmeric contains a volatile oil that produces a significant anti-inflammatory effect within the body when taken internally. Even more potent than its volatile oil is the yellow or orange pigment of turmeric, which is called curcumin. In numerous studies, Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effects, have been shown to be comparable to the potent drugs hydrocortisone as well as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents such as Motrin. Unlike the drugs, which are associated with significant toxic effects (ulcer formation, decreased white blood cell count, intestinal bleeding), curcumin produces no toxicity.
Turmeric helps in relieving joint pain in rheumatoid Arthritis, healing wounds and skin conditions. Here’s more about its effects.
Recent research suggests that Turmeric has been found to be effective in treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. Clinical studies have substantiated that curcumin also exerts very powerful antioxidant effects. As an antioxidant, curcumin is able to neutralize free radicals, chemicals that can travel through the body and cause great amounts of damage to healthy cells and cell membranes. This is important in many diseases, such as arthritis, where free radicals are responsible for the painful joint inflammation and eventual damage to the joints. Turmeric’s combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects explains why many people with joint disease find relief when they use the spice regularly.
Epidemiological studies have linked the frequent use of turmeric to lower rates of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer; laboratory experiments have shown curcumin can prevent tumors from forming; and research conducted at the University of Texas suggests that even when breast cancer is already present, curcumin can help slow the spread of breast cancer cells to the lungs in mice.
Prostate cancer-the second leading cause of cancer death in American men with 500,000 new cases appearing each year-is a rare occurrence among men in India, whose low risk is attributed to a diet rich in brassica family vegetables and the curry spice, turmeric. Scientists tested turmeric, a concentrated source of the phytonutrient curcumin, along with phenethyl isothiocyanates, a phytochemical abundant in cruciferous vegetables including cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi and turnips. When tested singly, both phenethyl isothiocyanate and curcumin greatly retarded the growth of human prostate cancer cells implanted in immune-deficient mice. In mice with well-established prostate cancer tumors, neither phenethyl isothiocyanate nor curcumin by itself had a protective effect, but when combined, they significantly reduced both tumor growth and the ability of the prostate cancer cells to spread (metastasize).
Here’s a quick recipe for cauliflower spiced with turmeric-it’s absolutely delicious! For protection against prostate cancer, cut cauliflower florets in quarters and let sit for 5-10 minutes; this allows time for the production of phenethyl isothiocyanates, which form when cruciferous vegetables are cut, but stops when they are heated. Then sprinkle with turmeric, and sauté lightly on medium heat in a few tablespoons of vegetable or chicken broth for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and top with olive oil, sea salt and pepper to taste.
It’s said that the best way for the body to absorb the benefits of Turmeric is to add black pepper. I usually take a mug and fill it with warm water and add about a quarter teaspoon of Turmeric powder. I add a couple of grinds of fresh black pepper, mix it all up and drink it this way every evening. It’s like drinking an herbal tea.
Check out the second part of “All about Turmeric”. Remember, you can find Organic Turmeric Powder at www.esmeandsita.com.