Turmeric is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. It comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant. It has a warm, peppery and bitter flavor with a mild fragrance slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger, it has a tough brown skin and a deep orange flesh. It’s best known as one of the ingredients to make curry. It has been used in Indian and Chinese medicine for thousands of years as a very potent anti-inflammatory as well as a very strong antioxidant. Turmeric contains bioactive compounds with powerful medicinal properties called curcuminoids, the most important one which is curcumin. Turmeric contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory components. These characteristics may provide glow and luster to the surface of the skin. For these reasons you are starting to see it added to natural skin care masks, muds and bath soaks.
Also known as Turmeric extract, Curry Extract, Curcuma, Diferuloylmethane, Jiang-Huang and Curcuma Longa. Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric., it’s a bioactive substance that fights inflammation at a molecular level. The potent oil fraction of turmeric has long been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in both the Indian and Chinese medicine. It has been used in history as a condiment, healing remedy and textile dye, it was traditionally called “Indian saffron” due to its deep yellow-orange color. The potent yellow-orange pigment which is called curcumin is thought to be the primary pharmacological agent in turmeric. Unlike popular anti-inflammatory over the counter medicines such as Motrin, hydrocortisone and phenylbutazone, curcumin is a potent yet very safe anti-inflammatory and produces no toxicity. However, the curcumin content of turmeric is not that high, it’s around 3% by weight. Most studies use turmeric extracts that contain mostly curcumin itself, doses usually exceeding 1 gram per day. This amount in nearly impossible to reach using the turmeric spice. Curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream. It helps to consume black pepper with it, which contains piperine, a natural substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2,000%.
Curcumin has a poor oral bioavailability (only a small amount is absorbed when consumed) and thus should always be enhanced with other agents unless you want the curcumin in your colon (great for digestion & inflammatory conditions), in which case you wouldn’t pair it with an enhancement. Trace amounts of curcumin can be found in Ginger root as well.
Be wary when buying curcumin supplements, read the ingredients, I have found that a lot of them contain soy lecithin or other soy fillers. Another great way to get a proper dosage of curcumin into your diet is to crush up a fee black peppercorns and add it with your raw Turmeric in a smoothie. Curcumin is sensitive to heat so you should not expose your fresh turmeric to prolonged heat and make sure you add pepper when cooking with fresh turmeric.
Best way to consume Tumeric/Curcumin to increase bioavailability in the body.
Mix with fats, you can eat turmeric with a fatty meal or simply mix it with healthy oils such as raw virgin, cold pressed coconut oil, freshly ground flax seeds, cold pressed grape seed oil or cold pressed sunflower oil.
Curcumin is fat soluble which means it has a low solubility in water (which 60 % of the human body is made up of) which is the reason behind the low-availability of curcumin in the body.
Mix with black pepper, make sure you use whole organic black peppercorns and grind them right before use to receive full benefits of mixing pepper with turmeric. Black pepper contains piperine, which is the key chemical in black pepper that aids the absorption of curcumin. Studies have shown that piperine can increase bioavailability of curcumin by 2000%
Mix with quercetin, fruits with dark red or blue color have the highest quercetin content. These include blueberries, red grapes, apples, black plums, cranberries and most berries. Vegetables which include quercetin are red lettuce, red onions, raw spinach, sweet peppers, raw broccoli, raw kale and red leaf lettuce. Quercetin is a plant flavonoid (pigment) that is found in many plants and food as listed above including green tea and wine. Quercetin inhibits a certain enzyme that deactivates curcumin.
- Add 3% black pepper to your turmeric with is about ½ teaspoon of ground pepper to ¼ cup of organic turmeric spice.
- For fresh organic turmeric you can use less pepper and peel outside skin off turmeric and then shred turmeric with a cheese grader.
- When taking turmeric extracts (liquid, capsules, tablets) take 400 to 600 milligrams three times a day when treating an inflammatory condition such as tendonitis, MS symptoms, arthritis, Crohn’s disease. Buy one that already has piperine in it unless you are using it for anything that has to do with colon health.
- It can take 6 to 8 weeks to start feeling results when taking natural supplements but the effect with be long lasting so be patient.
- When using Curcumin for intestinal purposes absorption from the intestines into the blood is not necessary so you do not need to take with pepper/piperine. Take 2-4 grams of Turmeric supplements daily. Fresh organic Turmeric is always the best option.
Jaundice Laryngitis Menstrual Cramps Hemorrhage
Bronchitis Bruises Chest pain Colic babies
Diabetes Flatulence Lowers Cholesterol Crohn’s disease
Cystic Fibrosis Cancer Prevention Rheumatoid Arthritis
Colon Cancer (Turmeric & Onions) Prostate Cancer (Turmeric & Cauliflower)
Childhood Leukemia (reduce Risk) Improves Liver Function
Cardiovascular Protection Alzheimer’s (preventative care)
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Inhibits Cancer Cell Growth & Metastases
Protecting against heavy metal toxicity Destroying multi-drug resistant cancer
Reducing unhealthy levels of inflammation Destroy cancer stem cells (the root of all cancer)
Ulcerative Colitis (thickening of intestinal walls & mucosal ulceration)
May help prevent and reverse Alzheimer’s Disease (crosses Blood-Brain Barrier)
According to an article I read by Andrew Weil, M.D. Studies have shown the following benefits of Turmeric/Curcumin
Turmeric extract worked as well as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug for treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee in a study published in the August 2009 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
Laboratory studies suggest that curcumin acts as a week phytoestrogen and seems to have cancer protective effects.
Lab studies have also shown that curcumin induces programmed death of the colon cells and clinical trials are investigating the use of curcumin in the treatment of colon cancer.
Curcumin suppresses micro inflammation in the GI tract associated with inflammatory bowel disease.
Curcumin seriously slows new blood vessel formation in tumors, causes asphyxiation of tumors preventing their growth and metastases.
In animal’s curcumin prevents or slows cancer in the skin, breast, liver, fore-stomach, duodenum and colon.
When Purchasing Turmeric
Only purchase Organic Turmeric Raw Extraction, fresh root or powdered root that has been tested for heavy metal content. In the Us and Canada most conventional spices and herbs are irradiated using Cobalt-60 to extend shelf life and prevent spoilage. Conventionally grown Turmeric is contaminated by the pesticides. A fresh organic piece of turmeric root is fat and has no wrinkles in it, conventionally grown turmeric root is small, wrinkled and just doesn’t look healthy at all.
Precautions when using Turmeric/Curcumin and Piperine Don’t use turmeric/curcumin if you have bile duct dysfunction or gallstones. Pregnant woman should always consult their physician before taking supplements. If you are undergoing chemotherapy speak with your physician before taking turmeric/curcumin. Piperine may interact or slow the elimination with certain prescriptions drugs so speak with your physician.
The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends the following dosages for adults. Raw root: 1.5-3 grams Powdered turmeric: 1-3 gram Curcumin Powder: 400-600 mg, three times a day Liquid extract (1:1): 30-90 drop Tincture (1:2); 15-30 drops, four times a day
Studies have shown that higher doses of turmeric are needed for greater medicinal benefits. Standard dosage may be better for preventative, every day use.
Turmeric in the kitchen
Turmeric Apples Sautee apples with fresh turmeric
Turmeric Eggs Add powdered turmeric to scrambled eggs or frittatas
Turmeric Greens Fresh or powdered turmeric goes well with sauteed or braised kale, cabbage, collard greens
Turmeric Lentils Fresh or powdered turmeric goes great with lentils
Fresh black pepper, turmeric in coconut oil Peel desired amount of turmeric place in blender or food processor Add desired amount of fresh ground black pepper to activate Curcumin Add small amount of coconut oil, blend until a creamy consistency, add oil as you go until you get a consistency you are able to swallow by the spoonful. Store in a mason jar on counter for a few days. Make small batches and remember “fresh is best”. The medicinal qualities die in the heat so most supplements are useless.
Roasted Vegetables & Turmeric Fresh turmeric goes well with cauliflower, potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, rutabaga, celery, turnips, onions, jicama Try cauliflower with ginger, turmeric and cumin Green beans and onions with turmeric
Turmeric Rice Add a dash of turmeric to any rice dish for a little heat and a beautiful color. Goes well with yellow rice, brown rice, cashews, raisins, turmeric, cumin and coriander
Soups Seasoned Turmeric Add to any soup for its warm peppery flavor
Vegetable Dip & Turmeric Powdered turmeric, dried onions, soy free vegan mayonnaise, salt, pepper. Serve with root vegetables
Tropical Oatmeal Smoothie 2 tablespoons rolled oats 1 cup water or orange juice 1 carrot sliced 1 mango Few chunks of melon of your choice ½ inch fresh organic turmeric, peeled and chopped or 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 tablespoon coconut oil 3 chunks dried fruit (apricots, pineapple, papaya) Blend oatmeal dry, add remaining. May add ice if desired.
Tropical Green Smoothie
1cup coconut water or coconut milk
1 cup compressed leafy greens (kale, spinach, watercress, lettuce)
Green apple or 2 kiwis
½ inch Fresh turmeric (1/2 teaspoon ground)
1 tablespoon coconut oil (only if you used coconut water and no avocado)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
A little honey, maple syrup or stevia if desired
Blend all ingredients together.
Disclaimer: The strategies, suggestions and techniques expressed here are intended to be used for educational purposes only. The Author, Kira Miller, is not rendering medical advice nor is she trying to diagnose, prescribe or treat any disease, condition, illness or injury.
If you are under the care of a physician, it is imperative that you consult their advice before beginning any new exercise or nutrition program.
Kira Miller claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss or damage alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application or interpretation of the material presented here.