As part of building resilient health, herbs can play a useful role with many applications and turmeric is no exception! Turmeric is an extremely popular herb that is used in hundreds of recipes. You may know it for coloring curries, butters or mustards. This spice not only packs a powerful flavor punch, it also offers significant physical and mental health benefits, including digestive wellness and an amazing effect on skin as well!
The scoop on Turmeric
Turmeric, often referred to as the Golden Spice, is derived from the Curcuma longa plant in southwest India, and is part of the ginger family. While it may be most famous as the main spice in curry dishes, it can be added to hundreds of recipes and beverages like stir frys, soups, teas, and smoothiesI And though it seems like it’s gaining popularity lately, this spice has been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Recent studies on the healing properties of turmeric have highlighted that this potent herb could play a role in both treatment and prevention of a wide variety of medical conditions. Curcumin and curcuminoid compounds, believed to be important to turmeric's effects, are a force to be reckoned with offering anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-cancer benefits!
Why this herb rocks
Inflammation is the body’s normal response when tissues are damaged and is the driving force behind acute and chronic disease. When tissues are damaged, cells release chemicals that result in swelling, redness, pain and heat. Studies have shown that turmeric can play a role in reducing inflammation. The curcumin component of turmeric may help increase anti-inflammatory factors while decreasing pro-inflammatory factors which can have a significant impact on chronic inflammatory and auto immune conditions like systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, as well as itchy skin, fibromyalgia and recovery after surgery. The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric have also been shown to help reduce the development of cancers including skin, breast, colon and oral as these and many other cancers arise from environments of chronic inflammation. By decreasing inflammation, it helps reduce the formation of cancer cells and promote cancer cell death.
When it comes to your skin, the benefits of oral and topical turmeric keep stacking up as inflammation plays a big role in skin conditions.
Got acne? A clinical trial found that topical and oral turmeric treatments reduced the number of acne lesions due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.
Struggling with atopic dermatitis and Itchy skin? Another study using a turmeric containing cream highlighted its ability to reduce symptoms of redness, itching, and scaling.
Hyperpigmentation? A study highlighted the use of turmeric containing cream reduced skin hyper pigmentation (discoloration) by 14% over 4 weeks. Turmeric may also make wrinkles less noticeable by helping to improve the overall appearance in skin texture.
Why keep this herb on hand?
Antioxidants are the antidote to damaging molecules called free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can cause oxidative stress (damage) to cells. By stabilizing free radicals, antioxidants protect against damage to our DNA, tissues and cells, which translates to less wrinkles, less sun damage and more radiant skin and overall health. Antioxidants exist in many different forms, including phytochemicals such as anthocyanidins (think red wine & blueberries!) and vitamins, including vitamins C and E. Add curcumin to that list as well because its natural chemical composition makes it a natural antioxidant due to its free radical scavenging abilities.
Worried about wrinkles? The antioxidant properties of curcumin have been shown to even out skin tone and inhibit the enzymes collagenase, elastase, and hyaluronidase which are responsible for breaking down the supportive skin components that give you that youthful appearance and glow!
With all the benefits this exotic and colorful spice offers, it’s worth adding into your everyday meals and beauty regime to experience some of the amazing benefits!
Here are 3 easy ways to incorporate turmeric into your daily routine….
Add turmeric into your recipes or sprinkle it onto your egg scramble or into your smoothie…Pairing the use of black pepper (piperine) with turmeric assists in making the curcuminoid components more bioavavailable (accessible for your body to use) though it isn’t necessary for the spice to impart its benefits.
Because I’m all about condiments to make any dish taste better, I couldn’t resist sharing this dressing. Here is an easy recipe to get you started.
If you want more ideas for main meals with turmeric, I found this post to be a great resource. You can modify the recipes to suit your dietary needs…don’t eat dairy? No problem, me either, just substitute or take it out. Bon appetite!
Turmeric Tahini Dressing
¼ cup extra-virgin organic olive oil
2 tablespoons organic tahini
4 tablespoons organic lemon juice
2 organic garlic cloves, minced (can adjust to preference)
2 tablespoons water
1½ teaspoons dried organic turmeric
¼ teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
Freshly cracked organic black pepper
In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, water, turmeric, sea salt and several grinds of pepper. Voila!
Turmeric has been used in skincare for a long time from creams to face masks to help your skin glow! As turmeric has been shown to benefit the skin in many ways including acne, wound healing, eczema and psoriasis I wanted to share an easy way to incorporate it into your weekly routine.
**As with anything you put on your skin, it’s always a good idea to test it on a small patch of skin (think wrist or inner arm) before slathering it all over your face to ensure it won’t cause irritation. Here is an easy face mask you can try.
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon raw honey
1 teaspoon full-fat yogurt or nourishing oil, such as jojoba or almond oil
Mix ingredients together in a small bowl. You may want to use a makeup brush to apply and wear a dark shirt so you don’t stain your hands or your clothes:)
Leave the mask on for about 10 minutes at a time. Rinse thoroughly with warm water and a dark washcloth (so you don’t ruin your favorite towel) and follow up with desired toner, serum, and moisturizer. If your skin has residual tint from the turmeric, you can use avocado or coconut oil to wipe away the excess.
You can use the mask two to three times per week.
If you find you don’t like the earthy taste of the spice and aren’t into DIY, then you can easily incorporate the benefits of turmeric and the active curcuminoid compounds into your daily routine through supplementation. Studies typically use doses of 500–2,000 mg of turmeric per day, often in the form of an extract with a curcumin concentration that is much higher than the amounts naturally occurring in foods.
I personally use Designs For Health Curcumavail as the bioavailability is superior and I tolerate it really well.
When it comes to ingesting turmeric either through food or supplementation here are a few things to consider before you fill your cart….tune into your body and your health and always check in with your health care provider. Why?
Stomach issues: Some people find that turmeric may cause stomach upset and make their reflux worse.
Blood sugar: Turmeric may decrease blood sugar, which while a helpful benefit for some, could cause problems for others, especially those with diabetes.
Bleeding and Surgery: Taking turmeric may slow blood clotting which means you may bruise and bleed more easily. If you are already taking a blood thinning medication like coumadin or are scheduled to have a surgery where bleeding can negatively impact your healing process, absolutely check in with your health care provider before starting supplementation.
Pregnancy: While using the spice in your cooking may be safe, taking supplementation may not be as it may stimulate the uterus or promote a menstrual period.
Have fun with this, experiment and let me know which way you are incorporating this spice into your life!