Naturopathic Kitchen: Turmeric

Fresh turmeric roots and turmeric powder in a wooden bowl on rustic wood

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric, a member of the ginger family, is a root vegetable native to India and Southeast Asia that is noted for the bright orange color it lends to many recipes. Turmeric has been used in medicinal practices like ayurveda for centuries, and has recently made a comeback as a trendy superfood–for good reason.

The health benefits of turmeric come from one of its constituents, a natural chemical compound called “curcurmin,” which contains antioxidants and has many medicinal properties, including being antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral, but what turmeric is most prized for is its use as a natural anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is the root cause for many who suffer with chronic pain, and adding turmeric to one’s diet may be helpful to mitigate these issues. 1

How To Use Turmeric

Turmeric can be used fresh or dried. It can be bought in ground powder form or as a whole fresh root and chop, grate, or blend it for use in recipes. Store dried turmeric in a sealed container in a cool, dry place, and keep fresh turmeric in the refrigerator.

Many people find turmeric helpful to relieve menstrual pain, boost immunity, and decrease pain from arthritis or other inflammation-related discomfort. 2

Turmeric has an earthy, bitter taste that many people prefer to offset with some sweetness and is often cooked with fat, such as coconut milk, to help with absorption. 3 The following recipe contains honey and coconut milk to bring a little healthy sweetness to the turmeric flavor. Black pepper is included in this recipe because it helps the body absorb cucurmin–plus, it adds a flavorful kick! Thanks to Bastyr University for the recipe.

Turmeric Anti-Inflammation Drink

Ingredients

  • 3 cups coconut water (or filtered water)
  • 1⁄2 cup fresh ginger slices (one 2-inch knob)
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 6 fresh mint sprigs
  • 1 tbsp dried turmeric
  • 1⁄4 tsp cardamom
  • 1⁄8 tsp sea salt
  • 1⁄8 tsp black pepper (or cayenne)
  • 2 tsp raw honey (optional)
  • 1⁄4 cup full-fat coconut milk (optional)

Instructions

This recipe works with or without a juicer and with either fresh or powdered turmeric. A blender can also be used to process the roots with a small amount of the filtered or coconut water.

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a sealable, BPA-free 750 ml (at least 3 cups) container.
  2. Add more filtered water or coconut water (including the optional coconut milk) to the top and refrigerate overnight.
  3. When ready to drink, strain and serve over ice.

Precautions

Turmeric should be used with caution by individuals with gallstones, clotting disorders, or congestive heart failure, as well as women trying to become pregnant. Turmeric should be avoided before surgery and during pregnancy. Don’t forget that turmeric is a powerful dye and use care to avoid staining anything.

 

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