Welcome back. This week I will be focussing on the spice turmeric and how to use it therapeutically. I will share my mum's recipe for a healing turmeric poultice, which eased many a sprained ankle during my childhood. I will also show you how to add turmeric to smoothies and juices, which is great way to incorporate turmeric medicinally into the diet and my version of the traditional turmeric tea (also known as golden milk).
So What's Great about Turmeric?
Turmeric has many health promoting properties and a long history of use in both Chinese and Indian traditional medicine.
Curcumin is believed to be the main active compound in turmeric.
Benefits of Turmeric include:
- It is a potent anti-inflammatory, which will be helpful in reducing inflammation and pain in muscles and joints.
- Stimulates bile flow from the liver, which aids digestion
- A powerful antioxidant, which supports liver detoxification
- Lowers blood sugar
- Lowers cholesterol
- Antiseptic, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal
- Thermogenic properties, which may boost metabolism
- Thins down the blood, promoting blood flow, which in turn improves the flow of oxygen, nourishment and toxins from the body tissues
Isolated curcumin when used medicinally has been found to be poorly absorbed in the gut. My personal opinion is that isolating active compounds from a whole natural food will not have the same synergy as the whole food!
Traditionally ground black peppercorns have often been used with turmeric, which recent research has found to be helpful with improving the absorption of curcumin by the body.
For optimum absorption of curcumin, 3 basic elements are required:
- Cooking heat,
- Black pepper which improves curcumin absorption
- A heat-stable cooking fat to protect curcumin from stomach acids before entering the small intestines.
It is interesting to note that turmeric is traditionally added to curries during the cooking process along with fat and black pepper! Amazing.
Making a therapeutic turmeric paste, which heats the turmeric and combines it with black pepper makes the process of using turmeric medicinally a lot easier.
A liitle fat will be added at the time of using the paste.
Turmeric Paste - Ingredients
1/4 cup turmeric powder (preferably organic)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2-1 cup water
- In a suitable cooking pan combine 1/4 cup of turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp of ground black pepper with around 1/2 cup of water to form a paste.
- On a low-medium heat, gently stir and cook the turmeric paste.
If the mixture becomes too dry then add a little more water to maintain a thick but smooth paste.
- Continue cooking the turmeric paste for around 5 minutes.
Again, if the mixture becomes too dry then add more water to maintain a thick but smooth paste.
- Allow the turmeric paste to cool then store in a glass jar and refrigerate.
Turmeric paste can be stored in the fridge for around 2-3 weeks.
1/4 teaspoon of this paste contains around 350mg of turmeric!
Tomorrow, I will show you how to use this turmeric paste to make a therapeutic tea.