Turmeric benefits include super-strong anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and even anti-cancer actions. It’s easy to find and inexpensive, with numerous other health benefits that make turmeric the best all-round herb.
Jay and I were talking the other day about which herb we would choose if we could use only one herb. As in, only one herb for daily use as well as for emergencies. The answer for me was instant: Turmeric! Not only is it easy to find and inexpensive, but turmeric can be taken internally or applied topically, depending on the need. Let’s look at 11 reasons why turmeric benefits surpass all others, making it the best all-round herb.
What is Turmeric?
A member of the “Zingiberaceae” or ginger family, turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a small, flowering perennial shrub. It grows in tropical and sub-tropical regions of Southern Asia such as India, China, Indonesia and Philippines… it’s even grown in Hawaii.
The turmeric rhizomes look like a smaller, thinner version of ginger root and are typically cut and boiled, then dried. The dried herb is then ground into the brilliant yellow powder that makes popular curry dishes look so gorgeous. Most Asian countries from India to Morocco to Thailand use turmeric regularly in their traditional cuisine.
1. Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Action
Turmeric is high in antioxidants that fight free radicals and strengthen the immune system.
2. Anti-viral, Antibacterial, Antimicrobial
Turmeric’s strong anti-bacterial actions fight off infections, particularly throat infections and staph infections.
3. Promotes Healthy Digestion and Healthy Gut
Turmeric’s active phytochemicals (plant derived chemicals) aid in protecting the lining of the stomach. They boost stomach mucous, counteracting stomach acid and balancing the healthy flora in the colon. This resolves digestive issues, such as leaky gut syndrome and constipation.
4. Aids Joint Movement
Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory benefits are very helpful to people suffering with osteoporosis by easing joint pain and aiding in smooth motion. Turmeric also relieves morning stiffness and provides arthritis relief.
5. Anti-tumor/Anti-cancer Action
Due to turmeric’s wide reaching health benefits, it is also one of the most researched herbs. Numerous studies show that turmeric inhibits tumor growth in cells and tissues, encouraging the body’s natural functions that do not allow tumor formation. Cultures that traditionally use turmeric in their everyday cooking are known to have a lower cancer rate.
6. Supports Brain Function and Nervous System
The compounds found in turmeric aid brain functioning by decreasing neural inflammation, stimulating neurons and promoting stem cell repair. One compound, given the name Ar-Turmerone by modern scientists, also encourages stem cells to form into new brain cells. This is encouraging for those suffering from stroke, Parkinson’s disease, depression and other brain ailments.
7. Anti-aging, Anti-wrinkles
Taking turmeric internally as a dietary supplement also helps the skin due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and healing properties. These benefits are enhanced by turmeric’s unique ability to flow freely through the blood system, nourishing organs along the way. This aids in minimizing wrinkles and slows down the appearance of aging over time.
8. Turmeric as a Topical Facial Treatment to Fight Acne and Brighten Skin
Adding to its position as best all-round herb, turmeric has fantastic benefits when used topically. Turmeric can also be used as an overnight facial mask to reduce acne inflammation. Plus, its anti-bacterial properties assist in healing acne lesions.
To decrease dark circles under the eyes, make a facial paste of powdered turmeric and yogurt. Regular use will decrease skin redness and brighten the skin for a healthy glow. You might also want to check out this article that has some easy and fun DIY recipes for turmeric facial treatments, known as “Ubtans.”
Note: Turmeric powder is bright yellow in color and may stain clothing, counters and skin, especially when mixed with an oily substance like oil, yogurt or milk. So, if you use turmeric on your skin, (depending on your skin tone) you may see a yellowish tinge when you wash off the turmeric – don’t panic! It is only temporary and can be removed by wiping with an astringent, such as witch hazel, or a skin toner product.
9. Treats Eczema, Psoriasis, Wounds and Other Skin Orders
You can also make a paste of turmeric powder and water and apply to patches of psoriasis, eczema, itches and sunburned skin. Then allow the paste to dry before gently rinsing off. The longer you can leave the paste on, the better the results will be.
10. Turmeric is a Superfood and a Beverage
Taking turmeric as a dietary supplement is good for the skin due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and healing properties. As mentioned above, these benefits are possible due to turmeric’s unique ability to move easily through the blood system.
These days, drinking turmeric tea, shots and lattes is all the rage… and for good reason! Turmeric milk, or “Haldi Doodh” as it is known in Hindi, is an ages-old traditional family remedy used for coughs and colds. It boosts immunity and aids digestion Therefore, it is taken right before bed for better sleep, hormonal balance and immune response recovery. Drinking turmeric tea is yet another easy way to add turmeric, the best all-round herb, to your health regime.
Recipe for Turmeric Latte Milk
- 1 cup full milk (can substitute with almond, oat milk, etc. but results will not be as profound)
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- pinch of ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
- sweetener to taste (raw cane sugar, agave syrup, maple syrup, honey*)
Turmeric in the News
It is no secret that many modern day pharmaceutical drugs have their origins in the herbal kingdom. As drug companies develop products, they inevitably attempt to isolate active plant components and reproduce them in patented drugs.
Due to turmeric’s amazing health benefits, it has also fallen under the eagle eye of modern science. In 1997, two researchers went one step further. They actually attempted to patent turmeric itself as a proprietary medicine for healing wounds!
The country of India was appalled by this attempt. And rightly so – patenting an herb that has been used for hundreds of health conditions over thousands of years – including wound treatment – flies in the face of reason, not to mention fair play. The USA patent claim was challenged by India’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and was eventually overturned.
It was ruled that this patent attempt fell into the category of biopiracy. Merriam-Webster online defines biopiracy as:
“the unethical or unlawful appropriation or commercial exploitation of biological materials (such as medicinal plant extracts) that are native to a particular country or territory without providing fair financial compensation to the people or government of that country or territory.”
Whew. That would have been an enormous loss for all of us. Not to mention – those same systems of medicine that have used turmeric benefits for healing for thousands of years, like Ayurveda?
They tell us that we should not focus on isolating curcumin, one of turmeric’s most active ingredients that is talked about a lot these days. The ancient texts explain that it is the synergy of the total turmeric rhizome that is key in providing curcumin’s bio-availability to do its healing.
And that’s one more reason why we believe that whole turmeric is the best all-round herb for health and beauty.
Where to Buy Turmeric
Turmeric can be purchased in three different forms:
- In spice bottles, sold in the spice section of your grocery store or online
- In pre-measured capsules, sold in bottles as a supplement at pharmacies, grocery stores or online
- In loose bulk powdered form, sold at your local grocery store or online
If you plan to use turmeric for health reasons, buying those little spice bottles can get very expensive! The least expensive way to take turmeric powder ✓ is to buy loose bulk powder by the ounce. You can use that turmeric powder in your favorite cooking or skin care recipes, for drinking in teas, and for taking by the teaspoon as a supplement.
Turmeric does have a slightly bitter and pungent taste. So, you might prefer to purchase empty gelatin caps ✓ or veggie caps ✓ and fill your own capsules. Sometimes I find it soothing to just sit and methodically fill those little capsules. (while sipping turmeric tea, of course!) Puts me into that calming Zen-kind-of-meditative-zone… 😊
Many natural food stores and larger grocery chains now feature bulk spice sections, so you can buy as much or as little as you like. Or, if you’re just not into dealing witih turmeric powder, you could try these bottled organic turmeric capsules ✓ .
Whether you add turmeric to your favorite recipes, take it as a supplement, put it on your skin, or drink it as a soothing beverage, there are so many ways to benefit from turmeric. You can see why we say turmeric is the best all round herb!
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*Ayurveda, the ancient healing science of India tells us not to heat honey beyond 104 F as it becomes toxic. Therefore, it should not be used in cooking or baking. Honey should only be added to turmeric milk when the milk has cooled somewhat. For more information on traditional and modern medicine uses of honey, please read our article all about honey.