Turmeric, Curcuma longa, is a humble root with some remarkable abilities. As a medicinal herb, turmeric has been heralded as one of the most powerful in fighting and even reversing degenerative diseases. As a spice, it has long been a primary ingredient in many Asian foods, but its capacity to support the body far outweighs its culinary application. A quick Google search yields countless uses for it, ranging from improved cognition to healthier skin, hair and nail health.
So what makes this sunny-colored root so special? From a scientific perspective, there are many peer reviewed articles lauding the benefits of turmeric, in particular its active component curcumin, for a healthy body. Studies abound on the use of curcumin in aiding both cancer prevention and treatment, due in part to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. This lends itself especially to relieving arthritis pain and irritable stomach tendencies.
Turmeric is also found in Ayurvedic herbal medicine, recommended for the digestive, circulatory, and respiratory systems. In particular, it aids in strengthening digestion and improving intestinal flora, and is recommended as a good antibacterial for the chronically weak or ill. According to the Yoga of Herbs (and excellent resource available in True Nature for purchase or perusing) beyond the physical body it “gives the energy of the Divine Mother and grants prosperity. It is effective for cleansing the chakras (nadi-shodhana), purifying the channels of the subtle body. It stretches the ligaments and is, therefore, good for the practice of hatha yoga” (p 150).
Although it is attributed countless healing properties, research shows that curcumin is not readily bioavailable (able to be absorbed by the body) when turmeric is consumed orally by itself. There is evidence that consuming it with black pepper greatly increases bioavailability, and the scientific community is pressing for further research into the positive effects of consuming turmeric in a variety of foods.
If any of this peaks your interest, come by for a Turmeric Latté in the Sangha Kitchen! We make our own concentrate in-house (black pepper included!), alongside fresh ginger, cardamom, ashwandha, and subtle sweetness from whole dates. It’s a delicious way to get your dose of fresh turmeric!