Turmeric is a member of the ginger family of plants and is well known for its use in curries and other Eastern dishes. Its bright yellow color makes it useful for dyeing fabric, and it’s also used in decorative body work, particularly at Indian weddings, where the bride is often treated to a bridal mask. As part of this traditional practice, turmeric and milk are mixed together and applied to skin the night before the wedding–creating a golden glow that’s not only beautiful but said to ward off evil spirits.
Here in the West we tend to just think of turmeric as a useful spice for cooking, but in India where Ayurveda is regularly practiced, turmeric is highly valued for health and wellness.
How does turmeric help?
The active ingredient in turmeric is a polyphenol called curcumin. Besides functioning as an antioxidant that can help protect cells from free radical damage, turmeric may help maintain a healthy inflammatory response in the body, help protect brain health and help support healthy liver function, even under challenging circumstances.*
Homemade turmeric honey
On its own, turmeric has a pungent, bitter flavor. Mixing it with honey helps tone down the taste, making it much more pleasant and easier to take. Simply combine equal parts of turmeric powder and raw honey, adding just a touch of black pepper, to help with absorption.* Make enough to fill a small jar and keep it sealed, in a cupboard, for convenience.
How to use it
Turmeric honey can be eaten a spoonful at a time if you’re feeling brave, but it’s surprisingly good when stirred into a cup of hot milk. It’s soothing and calming, and may support restful sleep if taken just before bedtime.* Soy milk, rice milk, almond milk or even coconut milk can be substituted if you don’t drink dairy.
For skin issues such as blemishes or breakouts, the mixture can be applied directly and left on for a short time. If you choose to leave it overnight, beware of yellow-stained pillowcases! It can also temporarily stain skin, but either a mild soap, or better still–an application of coconut oil, will work to remove any unusual tones. Because coconut oil itself is beneficial for skin, you could also make a mixture of turmeric and coconut oil, rather than honey.
If you’re starting to feel under the weather, or you’re already there, try a teaspoon of turmeric and honey three times a day for relief. This amount is also good for post-exertion muscle soreness or occasional joint pain.*
Using inexpensive ingredients from our kitchen cupboards is a great way to save money and use fewer manufactured health and cosmetic and products. It’s exciting to consider the possibility, that as we come to understand more about the beneficial properties of foods, we might support our health in a more gentle and holistic way.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Natural mood foods: The actions of polyphenols against psychiatric and cognitive disorders; Nutritional Neuroscience, Volume 15 Issue 3 (May 2012) pp. 127-133
Coconut: The Tree of Life; Coconut Research Center © 2004
Inhibitory effect of curcumin on uterine leiomyoma cell proliferation; Gynecological Endocrinology, July 2011, Vol. 27, No. 7 : Pages 512-517
Turmeric and curcumin: biological actions and medicinal applications; Current Science, July 2004, Vol. 87, No. 1: Pages 44-53
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