Being Powerful - Why I Use Turmeric Every Day
It’s remarkably powerful.
That’s why I use turmeric every day.
Most of us know turmeric as a bright yellow spice that gives curries their beautiful colour. It’s been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years to treat a range of inflammatory conditions including fever and stomach ache. It’s a member of the ginger family.
After noticing significantly lower incidence of certain cancers in Indian populations, scientists turned their attention to turmeric and, more specifically, the molecule curcumin that makes it so yellow.
Why use turmeric every day?
Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant, and preliminary lab and animal studies have shown that it may help prevent or treat several types of cancers, including prostate, breast, skin, and colon cancer and multiple myeloma. A 2006 study found that curcumin induced cell death in follicular lymphoma cell lines, warranting further study.
There are some limitations around the use of curcumin though; very large quantities would be needed to produce an effect, and it’s not readily absorbed in the intestines. And it’s possible that many of the benefits of including turmeric in our diet come from using the root as a whole.
I’ve discovered that turmeric can be just as effective as an anti-inflammatory tablet when I’m in pain. A couple of times I have fallen (or done a cartwheel that didn’t go so well) and I've used turmeric with ginger to manage my back spasms (as well as relaxation meditation). Where once my back would have given me grief for a week or so, any discomfort has passed within 24 - 48 hours.
Any wonder it has been found to be potentially effective for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and speeding up healing after surgery.
So how can you use turmeric?
Turmeric has made its way into my life daily for the last 3 years in lots of different ways. Ian Gawler recommends it in You Can Conquer Cancer for its anti-cancer properties. It’s popped up in supplements I’ve taken for healing my gut, in other supplements for protecting the length of my telomeres (the caps on the end of our strands of DNA that shrink as we age). I’ve cooked with it and juiced it and now I drink it every night to help me sleep.
We don’t yet know if there are any adverse effects from having too much turmeric so Dr Greger, in his recent book How Not to Die, recommends ¼ teaspoon each day. I must confess I’m probably getting more than this. In a traditional Indian diet, the average is probably more too.
And if you can, you might like to add a little bit of black pepper to it as it helps to absorb the turmeric and increase its effectiveness.
So here are some suggestions:
Add fresh turmeric, when you can get it, into your juices. It can be quite strong tasting so I'd recommend a piece about 1 cm long and wide per person. This is what I've done when I've needed it for pain relief.
Cook with fresh or powdered turmeric.
Here’s one of my favourite recipes:
MUNG BEAN DAHL
1 cup mung beans, soaked for 8 hours with a piece of seaweed like Kombu or wakame, then rinsed thoroughly and drained
¼ cup water (as pan dries out, add a little water to keep it moist)
I tsp brown or black mustard seeds
1 clove crushed garlic
1 tsp peeled and grated ginger
1 tsp powdered or freshly minced turmeric
3 cups hot water
½ tsp garam masala
1 cup roughly chopped spinach
Heat water in saucepan and sauté onion, garlic and ginger or just ginger until soft, adding water as you need to.
Add turmeric and stir well.
Mix in mung beans
Add hot water, bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer for 20 - 30 minutes.
Add in garam masala and spinach and then simmer further until mung beans are soft and mixture has consistency of porridge.
Serve on rice and garnish with fresh coriander
Make golden mylk to help you sleep.
Yes, turmeric helps with that too:
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder (optional)
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 pinch black pepper
1 cup warmed plant milk (soy or almond, preferably unsweetened)
1 tbsp hot water
honey to sweeten (if you need it)
Dissolve the spices in a cup with the hot water, stirring them. Then add the warmed plant milk. Drink and sleep like a baby.
Should I take supplements?
Nature has given us plants with healing properties. And although we like to try to isolate the active ingredient and pop it into convenient to take capsules, supplements usually ignore the synergistic value of the plant as a whole.
According to Dr Greger, initial studies done indicate that turmeric works better than curcumin on its own, especially in some cancers. So if you are going to take a supplement rather than add it to your diet, get one that is whole turmeric, instead of just curcumin. It might just be cheaper to make your own capsules.
There is a caution for those with gallstones or those at risk for kidney stone. Otherwise, just go for it.
Is turmeric is part of your daily diet? If so, how do you eat it or take it? If not, are you going to try it out?
Be happy. Be well.
And so be it.
How Not to Die, Michael Greger MD
You Can Conquer Cancer, Dr Ian Gawler