There are many reasons you might want to try including turmeric in your daily regimen. In simple terms – turmeric is anti-inflammatory. Other things that are anti-inflammatory, that you might be familiar with, are over-the-counter meds like Ibuprofen. They work to…bring down the inflammation in the body. So when you feel a headache (inflammation) or body ache (inflammation) or flare up of some kind – and you reach for aspirin or motrin, you are reaching for an anti-inflammatory to bring down that inflammatory response in the body.
Now, my brain tells me – why not treat the inflammation itself, dear soul? Yes, that would require some work 🙂 But imagine if you didn’t have to reach for anti-inflammatories because your diet and lifestyle (fresh, plant-based foods! Light exercise! Self-care! Low stress!) was already inflammation-reducing. That would be the best, most amazing option.
In the event you don’t have time for (all of) that, or you need an extra boost – turmeric has been explored, well, for thousands of years in South Asia, and more recently here in the Western world as a superfood that can help prevent and treat things like arthritis, heart conditions and even cancer.
Specific things turmeric has been linked with (to help):
To keep this post light, I’m going to explain the reasons I am using it, which are not as intense as this list might seem (also so this post is super-practical for you). Before we do that – let’s back up. What is it?
It originates in South Asia – India, Indonesia and Vietnam. It includes a substance called curcumin, which has been shown to inhibit some of the inflammatory mediators that lead to chronic inflammation. Therefore, instead of treating inflammation symptoms, you are working to treat some of the root cause.
Remember, also, that inflammation can show up in many different ways outside of just pain – acne, swelling, digestive issues, etc.
WHEN you are injured (externally or internally) acutely, your body produces a whole cascade of these inflammatory mediators to protect you and your body. Chemicals ramp up to cover the damaged area with fluid, blood and proteins. This is to set the stage for healing. When this process is “done” and inflammation is thought to be taken care of, the immune system calls off the mission.
NOW, things can go wrong. Obvi. Look at the way we eat, live, our food supply, lack of movement, etc. During a “normal” immune response, you have that beautiful process, including heat and swelling to protect you. When you experience chronic inflammation, you get a slow and steady level of inflammation…the immune system is on constant alert and over-firing. This can result in disease and breakdown in the body. Imagine something (your immune system in this case) always under attack – this healing and protecting process can easily lead to chronic issues.
So remember, the role of turmeric is to reduce inflammation or the likelihood of that inflammatory response.
The active part of turmeric that is helpful here is curcumin, a polyphenol with antioxidant properties. It is also what creates the yellow pigment.
I usually see a recommendation of 500-1,000 milligrams of curcumin each day for effective anti-inflammatory benefits. You can always ask your doctor what is best for your situation.
The best way, of course, is with whole turmeric plant. If you are using the spice on its own in this way – the rule of thumb is that there are about 200 milligrams of curcumin in each teaspoon of turmeric (of course the source of your spice will make this vary).
The easiest way to consume the whole spice is in a steeped beverage with black pepper, and a healthy fat (a la coconut milk, or include a different milk and add some coconut oil).
Curcumin is poorly absorbed (and used) on its own. If it’s not being used appropriately, it doesn’t matter how much you are taking – you won’t get the maximum benefit for the money you are spending on it.
Consuming it with black pepper (specifically, a substance called piperine) enhances the absorption.
And because it is fat-soluble, if you consume it with a fat (ie coconut), you will enhance the absorption in this way as well.
Again, don’t waste your money on something that you are peeing out.
A lot of supplements are on the market. But if they are not made with the right concentration, or they are using an inferior extract, they are not going to work well.
>> One thing to look for is a claim that a supplement is using a “proprietary blend”. This usually means – LOTS OF FILLERS, not pure turmeric. They are likely diluted.
>> Next, look for 95% curcuminoids, or at least a high percentage of them. Turmeric contains 3% curcumin, so having a supplement with a high(er) concentration of curcumin will give you a better, more noticeable result.
>> Go for organic. Turmeric grows in the soil. If the soil is contaminated with pesticides, you will also be contaminated with pesticides when that plant is dried and ground into a powder.
>> Look for a vibrant orange color to your turmeric, not pale orange or brown. This seems like an obvious benefit – vibrancy is important when we are looking at high quality products.
>> 3rd party testing with a certificate of analysis is always a good thing to see on a label – this (should) mean that all claims have been verified.
>> Lastly, going back to that piperine, from black pepper, that is helpful for the bioavailability of the curcumin. You can find piperine IN some supplements.
I do 2.5 things. 🙂
I have a (pre-made) powder that I bought from a cute apothecary in San Francisco, made with coconut, black pepper and turmeric that I use for making golden milk. Golden milk involves taking a small amount of turmeric powder (and other spices if you’d like, such as cinnamon) and mixing this into a paste with a bit of water. From here you add it to warmed milk, coconut oil, a sweetener if desired, and a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. It is a very lovely, soothing drink for fall and winter.
I supplement with a form of turmeric, with all of the above characteristics.
I (sometimes) use it in face masks by adding a little bit to whatever mask I am treating myself to. The same anti-inflammatory benefits make it a great option for skin inflammation, too. AND skin is the largest organ, so naturally it needs some help. I’ve heard it’s great in hair masks too, but I don’t often do these.
Hopefully this post was a helpful recap on the deal with turmeric and curcumin. If you have any questions – hit me up below!
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.