Latin Name: Curcuma longa
Family: Zingiberaceae (ginger)
Description: Turmeric is a perennial plant that typically grows in warm climates. It can easily be grown inside in a large pot, or outside with special considerations for overwintering. For best results, the plant should be kept moist, warm, and in full sunshine. The plant grows to be 3-5 feet tall, with flowers on the end of the spikes that range from white to yellow to pink. This plant is propagated through root cuttings.
Parts Used: Rhizomes, harvested in the fall, are dried and then powdered for use, or they can be used fresh.
Plant Properties: Analgesic, blood mover, antioxidant, astringent, carminative, anti-inflammatory, hemostatic, vulnerary, antispasmodic
Uses: The key constituent in turmeric is curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory. So, turmeric is often used to alleviate the painful symptoms of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions, including those in the digestive tract, such as colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. Turmeric is also well known for its antioxidant properties, that helps the liver more efficiently process metabolic wastes. Other studies have found that turmeric can prevent cancer, as well as stop cancer from metastasizing, by providing broad immune system support and regulating the growth of blood vessels, especially for breast, colon, and skin cancers. Turmeric can be used internally and externally to promote healthy skin and to heal wounds and fungal infections.
Golden milk – There are so many recipes for this one. Some recommend making up a turmeric paste to be used as needed. Others have you make the golden milk, one serving at a time. Many recipes use a blender to make a frothy drink. One I have used combines 1 cup milk, ½ cup water with ½ tsp turmeric powder, 1/8 tsp each of cardamom and cinnamon powder. Combine all that in a pot, bring to a boil, then simmer for 2 minutes. Turn off heat, add 1 tsp of coconut oil or ghee, add honey to taste (this is optional), then sprinkle with nutmeg powder. This is a nourishing and relaxing drink.
Turmeric Pastilles – Combine 1/3 c. turmeric powder, 1 Tbs. quercetin powder (about 10 capsules, emptied) and a big pinch of finely ground black pepper with about 3 Tbs of raw honey, coconut oil, or ghee. Form pill size balls, place on parchment paper, and freeze. Store in a storage container, in freezer. Take as needed, as you would a pill.
Decongestant Honey – Combine ½ c. honey, 1 Tablespoon each of powdered turmeric and ginger, ½ teaspoon each of powdered clove, cardamom and black pepper. Mix thoroughly. Add 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon to 1 cup hot water and stir well. Keeps up to 1 year in a jar.
Turmeric paste – For external use. Combine 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder with 1 teaspoon of aloe vera juice or gel. Apply to skin, cover with band-aid. Leave on skin for one hour.
Turmeric is warm and drying. To balance those properties, it is often combined with oils (ghee, coconut) or demulcent herbs (marshmallow root). You can also increase your water intake.
Turmeric will stain everything it touches yellow, including your skin.