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Turmeric – another miracle health plant

April 5, 2010

Derek’s comment on my chicken soup post inspired me to look up turmeric in Isabell Shipard’s book. It’s amazing how inspiring knowledge can be to make changes to your life. I remember seeing turmeric pieces for sale at the organic farmers’ market once and being totally uninspired to buy it. What would I do with it? Not really being a cook, it seemed easier just to add turmeric in powdered form if the recipe required. Well having read Isabell’s information about turmeric, I now definitely want to have it growing in my garden and to regularly add it to my cooking! So here goes my summary of this wonderful plant:

Turmeric, also known as yellow ginger, is a perennial plant belonging to the ginger family and is a native of India and parts of Asia. It has been used for thousands of years as a medicine, spice and colouring agent and is a symbol of fertility and prosperity.

Turmeric is reputed to have lots of health benefits but in particular is a wonderful aid to the digestive system as it stimulates bile flow which we need to break down fats (maybe I wouldn’t have ended up with gallstones if I had known this when I was younger!). It also stimulates production of digestive enzymes through its effect on the pancreas and it has been found to be very helpful to diabetics as Shipard says it stimulates insulin. Diabetic tea: 1 tsp turmeric, 1 pinch cinnamon and cloves, 1/2 crushed bay leaf.

Turmeric has been shown in medical studies to reduce skin tumours in mice by 98% and is often recommended to cancer patients by natural health practitioners. It also acts as a strong antioxidant and blood detoxifier and may alleviate conditions associated with arteriosclerosis (stiffening of the arteries) as it inhibits platelet aggregation in the blood. Shipard writes that turmeric lowers cholesterol by binding with cholesterol substances in the food so that they can’t be absorbed in the blood stream and into the arteries.

Turmeric helps to balance the hormones due to its support of liver function and 1 tspn taken twice daily can regulate menstruation and reduce PMS symptoms. It is a powerful anti-oxidant as it prevents free radical formation and neutralises already formed free radicals. Due to its antioxidant properties, the food industry uses turmeric to stabilise fatty acids and increase shelf life.

An effective cough and cold treatment, turmeric can be taken in a drink and even gargled and snorted to clear out a blocked nose (we swear by our Indian nose flusher to prevent a cold from settling in – next time I think I’ll try adding some turmeric to the water!). If you are prone to asthma attacks, try taking 5 grams washed down with water at times when you are most prone to attacks.

Turmeric can also be applied topically to treat numerous skin conditions including rashes, insect bites, wounds, herpes, chicken pox, measles, shingles, ringworm and tinea. Make a paste with coconut oil and even a little lime juice. And if you have a bleeding cut – sprinkle on some turmeric powder to stop the bleeding and prevent infection.

There are LOADS more ailments listed in Shipard’s book that turmeric is said to assist so unless you have active gallstones or are pregnant, we should all be taking it on a regular basis! (I guess the gallstone warning is because it stimulates bile flow and as such could trigger an attack).

For general well-being, Shipard recommends 1/2 tspn powdered turmeric taken daily . A traditional Asian tonic is 2 tspns fresh grated turmeric taken in water each morning. Another traditional tonic is 1/2 tspn powdered turmeric in hot water with 1 tspn almond oil – this drink is valued as a blood purifier, to stop menstrual cramps, and for stretching and strengthening ligaments. And if a little ginger or black pepper is added, the body is apparently able to utilise the therapeutic properties of the turmeric 20 times more efficiently!

We’re all very familiar with using turmeric as a spice but did you know you can use the leaves to wrap fish and other meats in while cooking? Well, I’m certainly going to be planting turmeric in my garden and I am now highly motivated to start adding it to whatever food and drink I can! It would be a great addition to a daily green juice.

I don’t have a photo of the tuber as it won’t be harvested until spring but here is a photo of the turmeric growing at Pete and Jan Flemming’s farm.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Susan von Konsky permalink
    April 6, 2010 1:41 am

    Who knew about turmeric? Filippa, I like your blog! –Susan

  2. April 6, 2010 7:48 am

    we love tumeric here. i have used it succesfully in the past to treat my menstrual probs. i make a lentil soup that has tumeric, sage and cummin as the main spices (along with noodles, parsley, shallots) and it’s a lovely warming soup that helps fend off a cold, or comfort when a cold has settled in. the only thing tumeric is not good for is……..white clothes! it really stains!

  3. Judy Harvey permalink
    April 6, 2010 8:28 am

    Great information Filippa – so lucky that you can grow tumeric where you live. it really is one of the most powerful healing plants and I tend to grate some over my meals every night. I have to watch my hands though”cos they get stained yellow if I don’t wear gloves.

  4. April 6, 2010 9:58 pm

    I’m slowly collecting natural food colouring ideas in my head for icing etc: beetroot powder for pink & red, turmeric for yellow. I guess you just have to be careful to not let the flavour come through!

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