Friday, 2 May 2014

Turmeric: "A medicine cabinet in a curry bowl"


Turmeric has been used for thousands of years for countless ailments. In recent years it has also caught the attention of western researchers and there are many studies touting its many benefits.
  • Digestion and the liver (Ulcers, diverticulitis, flatulence, leaky gut)
  • Heart heath (High blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol) 
  • Immune support (Cancer, colds and flu, bronchitis)
  • Musculoskeletal strength and flexibility (Joint disorders, arthritis, pain)
  • Nervous system (Pain, Alzheimer's) 
  • Wound healing and healthy skin (Eczema, psoriasis) 
  • Diabetes and Menstruation difficulties
Digestion and the Liver
Turmeric is a warming herb that promotes digestive secretions. It helps to relieve gas and has strong anti-inflammatory abilities to soothe the inflammation in the digestive tract. These attributes explain why it is used for diverticulitis, colitis and irritable bowel syndrome.

Its astringent qualities tighten and tone the digestive tract, making it a great ally in cases of a leaky gut. Turmeric is often used for ulcers because it tones the surface of the ulceration, decreases inflammation, stops bleeding, and helps to prevent infection. These same qualities make this a great herb for inflammation and pain associated with hemorrhoids and anal fissures. It can be used externally and internally for this. Be warned that turmeric will stain everything it touches yellow!

Turmeric is a cholagogue, which is an herb that promotes bile secretion from the gallbladder and liver. Using turmeric regularly can help prevent gallstones although it is recommended by the German Commission E to avoid using turmeric if gallstones are present.


Heart Health
Turmeric can help to normalize cholesterol levels. It prevents cholesterol from oxidizing, which is a process that can damage blood vessels. Scientific studies say that turmeric reduces blood clotting, increases circulation and decreases high blood pressure. My mentors recommend it following heart surgery such as angioplasty and bypass surgery.

Immune support
There are countless studies showing that turmeric can prevent cancer as well as stop cancer from metastasizing. I recently saw a TED talk where angiogenesis researcher William Li explained how we can eat to starve cancer. Angiogenesis is the growth of blood vessels, something that happens normally in humans. However, sometimes this process is too little (resulting in wounds that won’t heal for example) while too much angiogenesis can result in many chronic diseases, notably cancer.

Li highlighted turmeric as a substance that beneficially effected angiogenesis by inhibiting the growth of cancers. Like so many herbs, turmeric has the ability to normalize function. While it can stop excessive angiogenesis it can also promote angiogenesis when necessary! Besides regulating the growth of blood vessels, turmeric can also promote the growth of blood cells, making it a good therapy for anemia.

Turmeric is also used for many symptoms of the cold and flu, bronchitis and sore throats, including prevention. KP Khalsa says that turmeric provides broad immune system support.


Musculoskeletal health, strength and flexibility
Turmeric is an exceptional herb for the musculoskeletal system. It is commonly used for chronic joint conditions such as arthritis.

Turmeric is a strong anti-inflammatory herb. It can rebuild joints and even decrease pain. It can be used in acute injuries as well to improve circulation to the area, reduce any excessive inflammation and reduce pain.

For those with chronic arthritis and other joint problems who also have a lot of dryness, it is recommended to combine turmeric with ghee or marshmallow root to offset its inherent drying qualities.

Turmeric can be taken preventively to keep the musculoskeletal system healthy. Yogis take turmeric to support tendons and ligaments and promote flexibility.

Turmeric really does stand out as a pain remedy. Besides reducing inflammation it also depletes nerve endings of substance P, which communicates the pain signal. Besides being taken internally it also has been used externally for sore joints and sprains. Be warned though, it will temporarily stain your skin yellow. To use it effectively for chronic pain and inflammation, take it daily for a period of time.

Turmeric can also be used to heal from surgery. It can stabilize connective tissue and promote the healing of tissues while lessening scars and adhesions.

Nervous system
Like rosemary, turmeric has been in the research spotlight recently, showing its propensity to prevent Alzheimer's. Some theorize this is why India has significantly lower rates of Alzheimer’s.

Wound healing and healthy skin
Turmeric can be used internally and externally to promote healthy skin. It’s regularly used for acne, eczema, psoriasis, and to heal wounds.

The powdered root can stop bleeding fast; simply apply it to the wound.

Turmeric can heal fungal infections like ringworm and athlete’s foot. To do this a paste is made from the powder and apply externally. And, by now, hopefully you know the warning... it will temporarily stain your skin and anything else it comes into contact with.

In India turmeric is frequently used for toothaches and to heal gums.

Diabetes (type 1)
Turmeric is frequently used in Ayurvedic herbalism for people with diabetes. Its strong anti-inflammatory properties are important in this inflammatory disease. It further helps by lowering blood sugar and increasing glucose metabolism.

Menstrual Pain
Turmeric is used to treat a variety of symptoms associated with menstruation. As a blood mover it moves stagnant blood and reduces clots. It also works as an antispasmodic on smooth muscle tissue, helping to relieve pain associated with cramping.

It does all that AND...
It is said to repel ants as well. Seems like every summer people in the HerbMentor.com forums are wondering how to repel ants. I am hoping someone will try it this year so we can hear first hand how it goes.

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