Turmeric. Many families of Southeast Asian countries, especially India, have an almost sacred relationship with this orange-hued herb. And as you’re about to see, its usefulness goes far beyond flavoring your favorite Indian curry – especially in this winter’s colder season.
But first, what exactly is turmeric?
Turmeric is a perennial herb that grows wild in the forests of Southeast Asia. According to the natural science of Ayurveda, it has been used for over 2,500 years for its medicinal healing properties, many of which have been validated by modern scientific research.
Why is it so powerful?
A treasure in Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric contains anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antiseptic properties, as well as being a diuretic, a laxative and an expectorant herb. It’s also a great source of Vitamin C and Potassium.
But the secret ingredient that most contributes to turmeric’s legendary status is the compound called curcumin: a substance containing profound antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Clinical studies show curcumin helps prevent and treat cancer, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, while also modulating 700+ genes, improving over 160 physiological pathways, organizing cell membranes, boosting immunity and wound healing, and improving metal removal, among many more benefits.
And what are the best ways to use turmeric?
Now I’d like to share with you four potent turmeric remedies passed down from my grandmother, who led an Ayurvedic lifestyle and lived a long life into her 90s. May these work as great for you as they have for my family for generations – although please remember to also seek medical advice from your doctor or practitioner.
Whenever we strained our ankles growing up, my mom would make a paste of turmeric powderand water, (about a 3:2 ratio of powder to liquid), slightly warm it on the stove until it became a paste, add a pinch of sea salt to it, and then spread the paste on the ankle or whatever joint we had injured. Finally, we would wrap an elastic ace bandage around the affected foot or area to secure it.
As a teenager, while I was lucky not to have bad hormonal acne, I do remember it was the worst to get a random pimple in the middle of your face, especially when you had a Sweet 16 to go to and your high school crush was going to be there. So here’s an amazing all-natural face mask you can help your teens beat that acne with, or even use on yourself as a facial for smooth and glowing skin:
In a shallow bowl, mix a paste of 1 – 2 tbsp. of chickpea flour, a few pinches of turmeric powder, 2 – 3 tbsp. of milk or yogurt, and finally a drop of organic rose water. Steam your face so your pores are open and then apply the mask, especially to trouble areas. Let it dry for about 15 – 20 minutes and then wash gently with warm water. Pat your face dry.
Another option for blackheads or single pimples, is to mix a pinch of turmeric powder and coconut oil and apply that directly to the lesions.
The minute we would start sniffling, especially after our snowball fights in the winter, my grandmother would rush to give us this before we went to bed. She would mix a teaspoon of turmeric powder, some black pepper and small chunk of jaggeryto a glass of warm milk.
Alternatively, especially for a cough, you can also eat up 1 tsp. of turmeric powder, a pinch of ajowan seeds in 1 tbsp. of ghee-clarified butter on the stove, and then take off heat and add a heaping tsp. of local honey. This can be taken via spoonful or as a tea in some warm water. Along with the common salt-water gargle, we did it nightly to combat common colds.
On your wound, rub a dash of turmeric powder and drop of lime juice, before applying a band-aid. This helps accelerate the healing process – just remember to clean the area prior to application. Note: it may sting a little!
Try adding turmeric to food to help with digestion. I sometimes also add turmeric root to my vegetable juices. All the best experimenting with turmeric – remember to stock up on some as soon as you can!
Dr. Puja Shah is an award-winning author whose 93 year old grandmother swore by Ayurvedic remedies and practiced yoga into her last days. And so while her education includes 9 years of medical training as a dentist, 3 teaching qualifications in yoga, and dozens of courses in meditation, it’s no wonder that she always goes back to Ayurveda. Puja harnesses Ayurveda regularly with her children and husband Amish Shah, Founder of The Natural Law.