Honestly, lately it seems like turmeric is being touted as the cure for everything that ails you. It’s been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for a long time to treat everything from digestive problems to skin issues. Sounds like a great way to show yourself some love, right? But, seriously, what is it?
All About Turmeric
Turmeric is a spice that’s a relative of ginger and the main ingredient in Indian curries. It’s also used as a colorant to give mustard, cheese and butter their bright yellow hues. The roots or bulbs of the plant are usually boiled and dried to create the yellow powder you find in the spice aisle of the grocery store. You can also buy the actual fresh turmeric root in specialty grocery stores.
It’s both anti-inflammatory and contains the powerful antioxidant curcumin which helps protect cells from free radical damage. Supplementation has been shown to reduce heartburn, indigestion and arthritic joint pain — and there are even some ongoing studies to determine whether it may have a positive impact on heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Talk about a hard worker!
Turmeric in food is considered safe and beneficial for overall health. However, for certain populations, turmeric supplementation should be avoided since supplements contain quantities far greater than what you’d get from food alone (yes, even if you’re gorging yourself on Indian food). So, as with all supplements, talk to your doctor first before taking a turmeric supplement — especially if you have gallstones, hyperacidity, stomach ulcers, bile duct obstruction or are pregnant or nursing. Supplementation quantities of turmeric may also lower your blood sugar levels, thin your blood and slow blood clotting — so beware of “double-dipping” if you’re already on diabetes medications, blood thinners or anticoagulants and talk to your doctor about turmeric supplementation prior to undergoing surgery.
My Favorite Way to Get My Turmeric On
I can tell you from personal experience that turmeric has a super strong and bitter smell and it will stain — so be careful with both the powder and the root itself. My favorite way to enjoy the health benefits of turmeric is by drinking Golden Milk, and I’m sharing my favorite recipe with you below so you can give it whirl. Try a warm cup of it in the evenings — it’s like a spicy, creamy bedtime latte — and anytime you’re feeling kinda funky, a little off or just under the weather to give your body a little boost.
- 2 cups of unsweetened coconut milk (or another non-dairy milk)
- a cinnamon stick
- a 1-inch piece of turmeric root, unpeeled and thinly sliced*
- a 1/2-inch piece of ginger, unpeeled and thinly sliced
- 1-2 tablespoons of raw honey (to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon of whole black peppercorns (aids in turmeric absorption)
- ½ teaspoon of vanilla (optional)
- *You can also substitute 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder but it will settle to the bottom so be sure to stir frequently when pouring and drinking.
- Stir all ingredients into a small saucepan and bring them to a low boil. Reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for about 10-12 minutes. If you used fresh turmeric, taste the mixture first to be that it's simmered long enough to cook off the bitterness. Strain into mugs and enjoy!
- Let any extra mixture cool and pop it into the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 5 days.
Ready to spice up your life and drink in all that healthy goodness? —Alison