Turmeric is a powder that comes from the rhizome of a plant in the ginger family. It is featured in Indian and Asian cuisine. It's also used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. One of the active ingredients in turmeric, a molecule called curcumin, has received attention in modern medical circles for it's medicinal properties. Here are five reasons I think every cancer survivor should keep turmeric in their spice cabinet!
1. Turmeric is beautiful.
Turmeric is an exciting yellow orange color. Adding turmeric to your food makes it attractive and enticing. Stimulating your senses at the table improves appetite and brings a feeling of celebration to your meal.
2. Turmeric is tasty.
Turmeric's aromatic, pungent flavor brightens up meats, stews, chutney, and veggies. I even like it in baked goods and smoothies as a foil for sweet or fruity flavors.
3. Turmeric has anti cancer activity.
Turmeric has been studied in the lab and was found to have anti-cancer activity in test tubes and animals. A few studies looking at curcumin's effects on cancer in humans have also shown some activity against certain malignancies. The studies in humans were very small and results are not strong enough to recommend turmeric as standard therapy against cancer, but the results are interesting to ponder.
4. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory.
Some studies have shown turmeric reduces heart attacks in heart bypass patients, decreases arthritis pain, decreases radiation dermatitis (skin irritation from radiation treatments), and protects the liver from inflammation leading to fibrosis. Again, these studies were small and results were not strong enough to recommend turmeric as standard medical therapy for inflammatory conditions, but it may be a useful adjunct.
5. Turmeric is ancient.
Turmeric has been used in Asian cultural traditions for centuries. If you're like me, you have reverence for the wisdom of human experience. Turmeric's role in ancient tradition may help connect you to the past and feel gratitude for the present. A sense of ceremony in our lives can cultivate wellness on different plane!
Turmeric is generally considered safe when used as a dietary ingredient. It is important to note that curcumin supplements (pills, oils) vary greatly in quality and composition. Curcumin can be poorly or erratically absorbed in the stomach and intestines and may need to be blended with agents that aid absorption. It must also be noted that turmeric can interact with some chemotherapeutic agents and other medications like blood thinners. Curcumin supplements should not be taken unless approved by your treating provider.
Try cooking with this delicious and mysterious spice. I recommend buying high quality turmeric for purity and taste. Email me and tell me what you think!