Turmeric! Omg turmeric.
I feel like for the past two years I can't scroll through fb without seeing at least one article about how good turmeric is for you, and as much as I feel like there maybe doesn't need to be another article in the world about turmeric...I also really feel like there does! Because in addition to knowing how good it is for us, we should also be aware of it's energetics and things to consider when taking turmeric. Just like anything in the world, too much of this good thing can end up being a not so good thing, depending on your unique make-up.
Turmeric has pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes, and when taken, is generally great and pacifying for all three doshas. It is however, a heating herb energetically, so when taken in extreme excess, it can be aggravating to Pitta. I only mention this because since turmeric has become so popular, I've known people to add heaps of it to everything, and then start having digestive issues from it. Turmeric also has a few contraindications, which you'll find listed a little further below.
In Ayurveda, you'll hear "use turmeric," or "use ghee," for just about everything...it's actually a running joke amongst practitioners :P But this is because they really are like wonder (non)drugs! If you search for scholarly articles or studies on turmeric, or curcumin, the polyphenol in turmeric that is believed to be the magic maker, you'll find hundreds of papers that essentially say "It seems to have helped a lot in (insert one of hundreds of diseases and illnesses here), but we're not entirely sure why. More clinical studies need to be done." They do know though, that curcumin acts on multiple signaling molecules, which helps attack illness through multiple channels, as well as heal through multiple channels.
Just to note: you'll read about curcumin specifically, but it's just one portion of turmeric. Keep this in mind people- WHOLE foods are HEALING. When we separate them into their individual parts we take away parts of the magic. Each part of the plant plays a main role AND supporting parts in the action, or karma- the parts alone have an entirely different energy than when they're together as one whole. We tend to do this a lot in the West especially- pull apart everything into it's pieces so we can figure out exactly what makes it tick...we do this in Western medicine too! Addressing the person as if they're nothing more than the sum of their parts, or simply the parts themselves. But each part or system of the body and self is intrinsically connected to each other system, so much so that one cannot function without the others. One fails, and the rest go along with it. So really, we are not parts at all, nor are we the sum of our parts, but rather an amazing whole and complex human who must be addressed as such. Plants are the same.
So, if you're thinking about taking Turmeric, is best to take it in spice form rather than in supplement form- They ARE different. When buying your turmeric, make sure that it's USDA Organic, and from a company that does their work in testing for lead and arsenic- these heavy metals are often found in imported turmeric, and that's really just not something you want. Sometimes that means you gotta pay a little bit more for that extra work they do, but I'll take paying a few bucks extra over arsenic any day! I recommend this brand, and the 1lb bag will last you a loooong time.
So, now that we've got the difference between curcumin and turmeric down, let's look at some benefits of turmeric!
Turmeric's benefits, to name a few...
- Reduces pathogenic bacteria in the whole intestine, aiding in healing stomach ulcers
- Has a cleansing effect in intestines, especially the large intestine, clearing toxins and playing a role in prevention of colon cancer
- Keep in mind that when anything aids in the upkeep and health of the digestive track, that alone will aid the whole rest of the body by proxy because that's where we absorb our nutrients
- Stimulates blood flow and bile production in the liver, helping to dissolve gallstones, reduce total cholesterol, and purify blood
- Aids in the management of hepatitis
- Reduces inflammation basically everywhere in the body
- Is an antiplatelet, promoting blood flow and aiding in the prevention of blood clots
- Is antibacterial, aiding in healing infection in the body
- Has numerous benefits in the female body, including clearing accumulations from the reproductive organs, purifying breast milk, and helping to treat mastitis
- Has a cleansing effect on the nadis, or energy channels of the body
These are really just a few broad examples of specifics that we know of, but all in all, it helps the whole body. Turmeric clears kapha build up, it stimulates pitta, and aids in the proper flow of vata in the body.
The best way to take turmeric is to ingest it along with black pepper and a fat, to make it's goodness as bioavailable (absorbable by the body) as possible. Making Golden Paste is a great way to do this- you can simply add it to recipes like Golden Milk, or take a spoonful of it like medicine.
Now for our contraindications. Anything that has karma, or an action, can cause a negative reaction if taken at the wrong time...
Cautions in Using Turmeric
- Use with caution in pregnancy and when trying to conceive
- If you're taking anticoagulants or antiplatelet drugs, ask your doctor before taking any turmeric at all...They'll probably tell you not to take it. Since turmeric also acts as an anticoagulant and antiplatelet, it could be dangerous to take if not monitored.
SO, all in all, turmeric is great MOST of the time, for all three doshas, except in cases of really high pitta. Because it has a scraping/cleansing effect in the digestive system, people with really high pitta, who may be experiencing frequent trips to the bathroom already just because of their nature, might want to keep their dosage of this wonder herb on the lower side. And again, to really ensure it's bioavailability, or the ability of your body to absorb it, take it with black pepper and a healthy fat like coconut oil, or even ghee. :) Enjoy explorations of adding turmeric or golden paste to recipes, making golden milk, golden peanut dressing, golden whatever! Just be careful of it's staining ability- you may end up with golden finders, golden counters, and golden clothes if you're not careful :P <3