Its bright golden hue makes it stand out on any spice rack, giving color to traditional dishes like curries and dal. But turmeric is far more than just a culinary powerhouse from the East. This spice has gained serious traction over the last decade as a health supplement and beauty secret. You’ve probably heard about the anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric, and that’s only just the beginning of its powers!
Turmeric gets much of its medicinal value from its active compounds, curcuminoids, the main one being called simply, “curcumin.” Isolated curcumin is what is typically used in research studies, as ground turmeric is usually only about 3-5% curcumin by weight. In order to get the full health benefits of this compound, you’d have to eat over 1 gram of turmeric every day!
This is why it’s great to use a supplement form that has isolated curcumin, in addition to the whole turmeric spice. Plus, past research studies have shown that adding black pepper (or the black pepper extract known as BioPerine) dramatically improves the absorption of curcumin, so look for a supplement that has this too. These three ingredients, whole turmeric, concentrated curcumin, and black pepper, are considered to be the gold standard for using this spice for health and wellness.
So, why is everyone stocking up on turmeric supplements, like this one made by Tranquility Labs? The incredible list of benefits, of course! Here are just a few of the health benefits of turmeric, as demonstrated by the latest research:
1. It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory
Turmeric/curcumin supplements have been shown, in multiple studies, to reduce the body’s inflammatory response, particularly in cases of chronic inflammation. For some people, it even works better than certain NSAIDs, without the side effects!
2. It’s a potent antioxidant
We know that oxidative stress plays a major role in aging and chronic disease. Turmeric/curcumin supplements can scavenge the free radicals that would otherwise cause cellular damage, protecting your body while also increasing your natural antioxidant enzymes.
3. It helps your brain make new connections
In some studies, turmeric/curcumin supplementation increased the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which drives the process of new neuron creation and enhances neuroplasticity.
4. It protects your blood vessels
Turmeric/curcumin has been shown to protect the endothelium, the cells that line the insides of the blood vessels which are often damaged in cases of heart disease. It may protect against the kind of cellular damage that increases heart attack and stroke risk.
5. It may prevent cancer
Excitingly, turmeric/curcumin supplementation may halt the growth of cancerous cells, and reduce the chance of metastasis. It’s now being trialed alongside conventional cancer treatments, particularly for cancers of the digestive tract.
On an energetic level, turmeric is warming and drying, which works well for people with colder constitutions, or for those who are already consuming a lot of hydrating foods. I love using turmeric in a variety of ways, both internally and topically. That’s right- turmeric is amazing for the skin as well, thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It makes for a great facial mask or scrub, like the recipe I’m sharing below!
A word about staining: turmeric and any of its isolated compounds like curcumin, have a very vibrant orange color, which can leave stains on fabrics and even skin, if left on too long. This is one of the reasons why I like to use pre-capsulated curcumin supplements like this one from Tranquility Labs, to cut down on the mess. Simply pop open the capsules and add to the recipes. But just beware- if it gets on your clothes or fingers, be sure to wash it off right away.
One great thing about turmeric is that it is a very versatile flavor, lending itself well to both sweet and savory recipes. You can easily use it in a curry dish, as well as a tropical smoothie (see recipe below!), so it’s always nice to have around in your cabinet. I really enjoy it in beverages, especially, so I’m sharing two of my favorite turmeric drink recipes with you below. Along with my face scrub recipe, of course!
Let’s just dive right in! If you’re tired of simply swallowing capsules, and you’re looking for new ways to make the most out of your turmeric/curcumin supplement, try out these options below:
Cozy Golden Mylk
3 cups nondairy milk of choice- light coconut (in a can), almond, or oat work well
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp ground cardamom
1 pinch finely ground black pepper
Sweetener of choice- honey or date syrup are great
Combine milk, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and black pepper in a saucepan. Simmer over low heat for 5-10 minutes- it should be hot to the touch but not boiling. Whisk frequently. Take off the heat and add your sweetener to taste. Pour into two mugs and serve!
Tropical Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie
1 cup frozen pineapple
3-4 ripe bananas
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
4 capsules TL turmeric, opened
1 small knob fresh ginger (1 tsp ground if you don’t have fresh)
Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender, and blend until smooth. Add more juice if a thinner consistency is desired. Pour into glasses and enjoy!
Turmeric Face Scrub
1 Tbsp ground oats
2 capsules TL Turmeric, opened
1 tsp raw honey (Manuka is a great choice if you have it)
Combine all ingredients in a small glass bowl, mixing well to combine. It should form a soft, thick paste- add small amounts of warm water if needed, to achieve this consistency. Apply to a clean face, rubbing in circles for exfoliation. You may use just your fingers, or apply using a washcloth or face sponge. Rinse well, and follow with a moisturizer like this one from Amaki.
There are many awesome and tasty ways to get in your daily turmeric, and I encourage you to experiment with these recipes, and try some others too. The health benefits of turmeric and curcumin are clear, and the research just keeps expanding on their anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antioxidant properties. If you want to reduce your pain and boost your brain, turmeric should be a part of your daily supplement regimen!