The Many Amazing Uses and Benefits of Turmeric

The Amazing Uses and Benefits of Tuemeric

Turmeric, or Curcuma longa L. (Zingiberaceae), is a rhizome that provides beneficial antioxidants. While we appear to absorb very little curcumin from the standard turmeric powder used in food, this spice can provide antioxidants. It is also an excellent way to add flavour to foods without adding any heat.

Health Benefits

In supplement form, turmeric is a good source of antioxidants that is traditionally used in Herbal Medicine to:

  • Aid digestion [1]
  • Help relieve flatulent dyspepsia [2]
  • Support and protect the liver [1]
  • Increase bile flow and gallbladder function [2] [3]
  • Help relieve joint pain related to inflammation [3]

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), turmeric has long been used to encourage blood flow, as well as the flow of energy (qi). As a result, some TCM practitioners like to use the spice to help relieve menstrual pains [4].

Ayurvedic medicine also has a long history of turmeric use for relief of pain and inflammation, and to assist the healing of minor wounds such as cuts and burns, and minor skin irritations [5] [6] [7].

A Versatile and Flavourful Spice

A Versatile and Flavourful Spice

The most common way to use turmeric in the kitchen is as a curry spice, but in recent years some people have gotten a little more adventurous.

Chocolatiers are adding the spice to dark chocolate as a way to boost antioxidant content and flavour, while roasted chickpeas dressed in turmeric, salt, and lime are not an uncommon grocery store find.

Head to any juice bar these days and you’re almost guaranteed to find at least one  juice that contains turmeric, with the spice often listed as optional. It’s also becoming increasingly common to find turmeric lattes on coffee shop menus!

A Natural Beauty Aid

Another traditional use for turmeric has recently caught the attention of proponents of natural beauty products. For years, brides in India have used turmeric as part of a head-to-toe body scrub and face mask prior to their wedding day.

Since it’s made with some pretty common ingredients, making your own turmeric face mask is simple.

Home-Made Turmeric Face Mask

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of ground oats
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 3 tablespoons of unsweetened non-dairy milk, such as rice or almond
  • 1 teaspoon of ground flaxseed

Method

  1. Mix the oats and turmeric, and then mix the flaxseed with the milk.
  2. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to create a paste.
  3. Use a small spatula or a clean finger to apply the mask in a thin layer over your face.
  4. Let the mask dry for 20 minutes and then rinse away the mask, gently scrubbing as needed.
  5. Finally, apply your preferred moisturizer

Because turmeric is highly pigmented, some people worry that using it on fair skin can cause staining. This doesn’t usually occur, yet it’s best to use a thin layer of the mask and to not leave it on for longer than 20 minutes, just in case.

Use a small Mason jar to make this mask as this will allow you to store any excess in the refrigerator for two to three days. This face mask can also be a delightful (and customizable) gift!

References:

[1] Williamson, E.M. (2003). Potter’s Herbal Cyclopaedia: The Authoritative Reference work on Plants with a Known Medical Use. Saffron Walden (GB): The C.W. Daniel Company Limited.

[2] Mills, S., & Bone, K. (2000). The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety. St. Louis (MO): Elsevier Churchill Livingstone.

[3] Blumenthal, M., Goldberg, A., Brinkmann, J., editors. (2000). Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Boston (MA): Integrative Medicine Communications.

[4] PPRC. (2005). Pharmacopoeia of the People’s Republic of China, Volume 1, English edition 2005. Beijing (CN): The State Pharmacopoeia Commission of the People’s Republic of China.

[5] Paranjpe, P. (2005). Indian Medicinal Plants – Forgotten Healers (A Guide to Ayurvedic Herbal Medicine). Delhi (IND): Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan.

[6] Murthy, K.R.S. (2004). Bhavaprakasha of Bhavmisra, Volume 1. Varanasi (IND): Chowkhamba Krishnadas Academy.

[7] Kapoor, L.D. (2001). Handbook of Medicinal Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants. Boca Raton (FL): CRC press LLC.