Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin: Recipe For Immunity
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Health Benefits Of Turmeric And Curcumin

Mar 30, 2016

If something costs very little, makes everything taste great and is fantastic to boost your immunity, the whole world should be eating it, right? Well, most of them already do! Nearly 2/3 of the world’s population lives in Asia, where the spice, turmeric and curcumin, is grown and consumed daily. Adding turmeric to everyday cooking can be a powerful shot in the arm for your overall health.

Growing up in India, spices were part of every meal for us; and they were just as important for healing. I still use turmeric in my daily cooking, apply it on cuts when my kids get hurt, use it as a paste on their forehead when they have a fever and stir it into their milk for a good night’s sleep.

Pass me the Super Spice, please!

Turmeric detoxifies and supports the liver, making it a great spice to build immunity. It is also a powerful antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory. It is said to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells. The active constituent in turmeric is curcumin, which gives it the yellow color. There are several studies that the National Institutes of Health list on the beneficial effects of turmeric and curcumin.

Which Is Better: Turmeric Or Curcumin?

curcumin turmeric benefits

curcumin turmeric benefits

Turmeric is used as a powdered spice in food while curcumin is usually taken as a dietary supplement. Both have wonderful health benefits.  When we cook with the whole turmeric, we get the benefits of all the compounds found in turmeric. It is often recommended as a gentle, time-taking healer, for systemic health challenges like Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).  Curcumin, on the other hand, is said to have a more swift and dramatic effect; it therefore offers a more convenient choice for therapeutic purposes.

How to Pick The Right Turmeric Supplement

It is advisable to choose a turmeric or curcumin supplement that also contains black pepper extract or piperine, because the piperine enhances absorption of the turmeric. By itself, turmeric tends to get metabolized before it can be absorbed in the human body, thereby reducing its effectiveness. So make sure that your dietary turmeric/curcumin has piperine, so it is more ‘bioavailable’; meaning it is able to enter your cells and do its job.

Remember: Turmeric works gently in our body. It could take up to eight weeks of use before you see the full positive impact of supplementation with a standardized extract.

Turmeric is a largely safe supplement with no known serious adverse reactions. But do be mindful of possible interactions.  As always, please involve your healthcare practitioner before starting turmeric supplements. This is especially so if you are on medicines like aspirin, painkillers, statins, diabetes drugs, blood pressure medicines, and blood thinners. Turmeric is a powerful herb and could increase the effectiveness of these medicines or have other interactions.

The permissible dosages of various forms of turmeric (for adults):

  • Cut root: 1.5 – 3 g per day
  • Dried, powdered root: 1 – 3 g per day
  • Supplement: 400 – 600 mg, 2-3 times per day
  • Fluid extract (1:1) 30 – 90 drops a day
  • Tincture (1:2): 15 – 30 drops, 4 times per day

Tips For Cooking With Turmeric

  • Add turmeric when cooking lentils, sautéing vegetables, chili and various curries
  • Add to soups and smoothies
  • Add turmeric to fried onions as it is said to help protect against cancer
  • Mix lemon, honey, ginger and turmeric with warm water. It really warms the heart and is a great tonic for colds.

Lip-smacking immunity served up hot!

Here is a quick recipe of a mixture of spices to improve immunity:

  • 6 tablespoons turmeric
  • 3 tablespoons cumin
  • 3 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 6 tablespoons ground fennel
  • 1 tablespoon powdered ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ tablespoon ground cinnamon

Heat this spice mixture with 4-5 tablespoons of ghee (clarified butter) on medium-high heat.  Take it off the stove when it releases a fantastic aroma. Mix in a small quantity, as per taste, to cooked rice, vegetables, or any other savory dish.

Please note that heating spices makes them more potent and releases their nutritive properties. Combining turmeric with certain other spices adds goodness to our food.

Stay tuned for future articles, more facts and recipes on each of these spices!

Down Memory Lane with Turmeric

Thousands of years ago, people in India and China used turmeric. History suggests this spice dates back 10,000 years in India. Legend has it that ancient Polynesians carried turmeric as they traveled across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii; to this day, Hawaiians use this spice, locally known as Olena. Turmeric has also been used as a substitute for saffron in Europe for over 700 years.

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Sonali Birla
Sonali is a Health Coach from Duke Integrative Medicine and former Editor of the Duke Integrative Medicine Newsletter. Her focus is on mindful eating and using spices creatively to cook up great health for all.
Sonali Birla

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