Image by Howard Walfish
It was more than a year ago that I discovered turmeric.
Well, really, I first discovered it in an ancient bottle of curry powder on my parents’ stove when I was 19. I was just really learning to cook, and I sprinkled it on chicken and thought it tasted good. It was so odd that they had it, since my mom isn’t exactly the most adventurous cook. (Don’t worry, it’s okay — she hates to cook. When I go visit her, I get to be creative in the kitchen and she gets to play with my children. It’s a big win all around.)
It took me almost 10 years after that to buy some turmeric for my kitchen, but eventually I did. I now make my own spice rub for chicken, which includes turmeric. I roast a chick every week, and all I do is put some butter on top, sprinkle with the rub, and put it in the oven. Could not be simpler.
I also made these amazing anti-everything pills, which really can be used for everything. So far, headaches, muscle aches, menstrual cramps, colds, flu, asthma flare-ups, sinus infections, ear infections…and that’s just what people have reported to us, or what we’ve tried ourselves. I’m sure there are many more uses.
My bloggy friend, Andrea, shared with us ways to use turmeric on your skin, too. Turmeric isn’t just a great spice, and great medicine, it’s also great for your skin! (It can even help to heal wounds.)
With all this awesomeness, I just had to get my hands on fresh turmeric, too. And then I did.
Why is Turmeric So Awesome?
If you haven’t heard of turmeric you might be wondering why I’m going on and on about one simple, little thing. Or even what it is in the first place.
Turmeric is a root, which is deep orange (almost carrot-like) on the inside when fresh, with a light brown papery skin on the outside (think like a smaller, orange piece of ginger) and when dried, becomes a deep golden powder. It’s what makes curry powder yellow.
Here’s a fascinating look into the history and research that’s been done on turmeric (the best parts of which are summarized below).
There’s been quite a lot of scientific research into turmeric in the last several years, and a lot of amazing properties have turned up.
Turmeric is Anti-Inflammatory
This has a ton of potential uses. Anti-inflammatory means that it reduces redness, swelling, and pain anywhere in the body. One study found it significantly more effective an an NDSAID in treating arthritis. This study shows that not only is it effective in reducing pain with rheumatoid arthritis, but it even protected against complications of RA, like anemia, kidney disease, and heart disease. This study shows that doses up to 2500 mg per day have been shown perfectly safe, with no toxicity.
Check out the top 5 anti-inflammatory foods!
Turmeric is Full of Antioxidants
Turmeric contains a ton of antioxidants, which we all know can help with a bunch of different things. One study suggests that turmeric’s antioxidants may be useful in treating Crohn’s disease, liver cirrhosis, chronic kidney disease, diabetes (it can help steady blood sugar), and even Alzheimer’s disease!
Turmeric is Anti-Ulcer
Turmeric has been shown to reduce the growth of the h. pylori bacteria that causes ulcers. This same bacteria contributes to gastric and colon cancers, too! Which means….
Turmeric is Anti-Cancer
Yes, for real — turmeric fights cancer. In fact, turmeric selectively kills cancer cells while not harming normal cells at all. It can be used on a wide range of cancers, including to prevent cancer. Check out these 6 other cancer-fighting foods too!
Turmeric is definitely some amazing stuff.
Fresh Turmeric is Awesome Too!
Mostly, I work with dried turmeric. That’s true. It’s much easier to get (it’s in every grocery store) and easier to store and use.
But fresh turmeric is some awesome stuff, too. I found some at a health food store local to me a few weeks back, and I was so excited to buy it. I’ve used it in a few different ways so far, all delicious (and helpful). I’m going to share a couple with you today.
- 4 limes
- 1″ piece of ginger
- 1/2″ piece of turmeric
- 1/2 c. cane sugar
- 2 quarts water
- Juice all the limes.
- Run 2 c. of water and the ginger and turmeric through a blender until liquefied.
- Strain the ginger-turmeric water through a piece of cloth to remove the pulp.
- Dissolve the sugar in the ginger-turmeric water.
- In a 2-quart pitcher, combine ginger-turmeric water, lime juice, and add enough water to make 2 quarts. Serve with ice.
A decoction is kind of like tea, but stronger. The herbs are boiled in the water instead of just being steeped for a few minutes. This is great for colds or flu or any respiratory illness. I used it for laryngitis at one point and it helped.
- 2 slices of fresh ginger (1/4″ thick)
- 2 – 3 slices of fresh turmeric (1/4″ thick)
- 2 cups of water
- Add all ingredients to a medium saucepan.
- Turn on high heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Strain the liquid into a tea cup.
- Add honey and/or lemon to taste. (I like 1/2 lemon and about 2 tsp. honey)
There are a bunch of other ways to use fresh turmeric, too!
- Spring Turmeric Tonic
- How to Make a Turmeric Bug (for fermented drinks)
- Turmeric Lime Soda
- Turmeric Cooler
Have you tried using fresh turmeric before? What are your favorite ways?
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