Turmeric (Curcuma longa) has been used for 4,000 years to treat a variety of conditions. Studies show that turmeric may help fight infections and some cancers, reduce inflammation, and treat digestive problems, and it has gotten a lot of press lately.
(Via Dr. Andrew Weil)
1. Curcumin seems to delay liver damage in some instances that can eventually lead to cirrhosis.
2. Turmeric reduces levels of heterocyclic amines – carcinogenic compounds that are formed when meats are barbecued, boiled or fried – by up to 40 percent.
3. Curcumin inhibits the growth of a skin cancer (melanoma) and also slows the spread of breast cancer into the lungs.
4. Turmeric that is part of daily curries eaten in India may help explain the low rate of Alzheimer’s disease in that country. Among people aged 70 to 79, the rate is less than one-quarter that of the United States.
Some Americans may find straight turmeric powder bitter or otherwise off-putting, but when a teaspoon or two is added to a pot of soup or stew, the flavor disperses and adds a subtle depth and complexity that most people find appealing. If even that’s too much for you, both turmeric and curcumin supplements are now widely available – just take one along with your daily multivitamin. Note, however, that turmeric and curcumin are poorly absorbed from the G.I. tract. Absorption is enhanced in the presence of piperine, a constituent of black pepper. Indian cuisine commonly uses turmeric and pepper together. I suggest using only turmeric and curcumin supplements that contain piperine or black pepper extract.
One way to add turmeric into your life is by making turmeric tea. Feel free to experiment with the ingredients and flavorings until you find a combination that suits your taste:
- Bring four cups of water to a boil.
- Add one teaspoon of ground turmeric and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
- Strain the tea through a fine sieve into a cup, add honey and/or lemon to taste.
Some people like to add a teaspoon of ginger along with the turmeric. While ground versions are more convenient, it’s worthwhile to experiment with freshly grated turmeric for a more vibrant flavor. These distinctive, deep-orange roots are increasingly available in American grocery and natural food stores. Enjoy!