Spotlight On: TURMERIC

Summer is done and dusted. The energy in the air and natural environment whispers of Autumn’s imminent stay, and the days are beginning to get shorter, cooler, and crisper.  Autumn is all about transitions, which we will noticeably see in the changing colours of the fall foliage palette, and the shifty temperature variations of the wind.  In “Ayurvedic” terms, Autumn is known as Vata season, dominated by the elements of “air” and “space,” and characterized by the qualities of being dry, windy, erratic, rough, subtle, clear, cool, expansive.  These qualities are abundant in the atmosphere at this time, and, because “like increases like,” abundant within us, too.

I find myself more acutely aware of minor aches and pains, and an overall yearning for more grounding during this transitional Vata season.  The very erratic nature of fall has a funny way of settling into our bones, joints, tissues, and even minds, wreaking havoc unless properly assuaged.  One culinary and medicinal spice, that I always have on hand in bulk proportions to remedy common Autumnal ailments, is Turmeric: Curcuma Longa.

 

Turmeric, ablaze in its golden glory, is widely known for its anti-inflammatory properties, similar to cortisone, and its ability to quell inflammation in the joints and tissues.  This makes it a wonderful healing anecdote to those suffering from arthritic conditions. How does it work? The anti-inflammatory compound found in Turmeric (and cayenne), curcumin, diminishes the nerve endings of a pain receptor neurotransmitter called Substance P. But, in Ayurvedic healing, the myriad benefits of Turmeric, also called Haldi, go even further.  As a member of the ginger family, it is astringent in taste and warming in action, helping to reduce inflammation and to protect the liver, lungs, and intestines….hello immunity! Turmeric is chock full of “curcuminoids,” compounds which are antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, detoxifying, and immune-boosting.  The simultaneously detoxifying and immune-enhancing nature of Turmeric has made it a cold and flu-care staple in Ayurvedic tradition for centuries.  At the onslaught of a cold or cough, gargling with turmeric that has been boiled in water does wonders.  Alternatively, taking a tablespoon of raw honey with a generous pinch of turmeric and black pepper effectively helps to relieve a sore throat.  In fact, there is a lovely healing synergy between turmeric and black pepper, and taking the two together helps make the turmeric more bioavailable, supporting easy absorption into the body.
Although it doesn’t work directly on the endocrine system, Turmeric has shown to have similar properties to adaptogenic herbs, which help to insulate our body’s response to stress.  A restorative, calming, and very grounding tonic after a long day of work is a simple cup of milk (or almond, soy, hemp, coconut) gently boiled with a ½ teaspoon of turmeric, a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg, black pepper, and, once cooled down a bit, a little honey to taste.

It is no surprise, too, that this golden spice traditionally used in cooking has a natural affinity for the digestive system.  Turmeric not only suppresses inflammation, but it also helps reduce gas and bloating, and helps to increase the production of mucous in the stomach, preventing indigestion, ulcers, and other irritable bowel conditions.  That should be reason enough to include more turmeric in your fall cooking repertoire!

Turmeric is safe and effective, although it is generally contraindicated for pregnant women (if using supplement form with high proportion of curcumin).  For cold and flu care, the remedies above work wondrously.  For everyday health prevention and for treating acute inflammation, it is suggested to take a dosage between 500- 1500mg Turmeric daily, although I wouldn’t recommend exceeding 1500mg.  Like the other vitamins A, D, E, and K, Turmeric is fat-soluble and therefore much easier absorbed into the body with a carrier fat or oil.  Try cooking turmeric in a little bit of coconut oil to extract its active constituents, or take flax seed oil or fish oil caplets before taking a Turmeric supplement.

Turmeric Force

In addition to selling Turmeric in our bulk spice section here at Rebecca’s, we also carry Turmeric in several different supplement forms and a wonderful tea. I like New Chapter Turmeric Force softgels and Alvita Turmeric Root Tea.

Join us for Caroline’s free, in-store talk, “Ayurvedic Approaches to Seasonal Attunement” on Thursday, October 17th, 2013 at 6:30 p.m.

 

Caroline Horan, ANC, AADP
Supplements, Health & Beauty at Rebecca’s
Ayurvedic Practitioner at AHARA THRIVE

Caroline