Turmeric, Curcuma longa, has been used for over 4,000 years in Asia as a helpful ally. From the dyeing of clothes to Hindu wedding ceremonies, to healing digestive and skin ailments, turmeric has served humankind in a myriad of ways. Today, turmeric is a buzz word among alternative healers, herbalists and yogis alike. People are, once again, recognizing the healing properties of this powerful herb.
The healing substance in turmeric is known as curcumin. Curcumin is what gives the spice its golden yellow colour and what provides the medicinal effect. Curcumin has a prabhava, or special effect, on the large intestine and, when combined with pippali, or long pepper, can help protect the body from colon cancer. Curcumin also provides turmeric with its strong anti-inflammatory and pain relieving actions. That’s why many medical practitioners recommend turmeric for patients dealing with joint pain and/or arthritis.
Turmeric and Ayurveda
Ayurveda, India’s traditional wellness system that dates back over 5,000 years, calls turmeric “the Golden Goddess.” Throughout its medical texts, Ayurveda reveres turmeric as one of the most powerful herbs for use on a multitude of ailments.
Turmeric supports digestive health; it reduces indigestion and the excess heat that can accumulate in the digestive tract (which can lead to heartburn, GERD and diarrhea); it also clears ama (toxins) in the digestive system.
Turmeric also works in the rakta, or blood channel, as a circulatory stimulant and blood tonic, supporting the production of red blood cells.
Surprisingly, turmeric also has a whitening effect on teeth and its antibacterial properties help promote oral health.
Ayurveda also indicates turmeric for external application, for wounds, bruises and skin ailments. Is there anything this super herb can’t do?
Turmeric for your skin
In recent years, the Golden Goddess has gained wide popularity in the skincare and beauty industry. It evens skin tone, soothes and smooths the skin, while also lightening any excess skin pigmentation. Turmeric helps fight free radical damage, thanks to its antioxidant effects, and can improve skin elasticity. It’s also garnering praise for its ability to heal and prevent acne. In short, turmeric is one of the greatest allies for anyone in search of organic, earth-based, chemical-free skincare.
Recipe – A turmeric face mask
Want to give turmeric a try? Here’s a simple exfoliating face mask you can make at home to introduce turmeric into your skincare and beauty ritual.
• 1 Tbsp Organic Turmeric
• 1 tsp Organic Chickpea Flour
• ¼ tsp Himalayan salt
• ¼ tsp Organic Almond, Rice or Coconut Milk
• ¼ tsp Organic Olive, Sunflower or Almond Oil
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl to make a paste. Apply the paste evenly to the skin of the face and neck. Be sure to apply in gentle, circular, upward strokes. Let sit for 2-5 minutes. Gently rinse away the mask with tepid water.
The addition of the non-dairy milk, salt and chickpea flour will help prevent any temporary staining of the skin that might result from turmeric’s golden hue. If you want to be extra careful, look for Kasturi Turmeric (curcuma aromatica) a non-staining version of the spice, or follow up with a gentle salt or sugar scrub combined with some olive, sunflower or almond oil, after the mask treatment to remove any golden residue from the skin.
Turmeric is an ancient herb with many modern day applications. Both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine recognized the healing properties of this herb early on and, to this day, honour turmeric as one of the most versatile healing plants. To determine how turmeric can best enhance your life, speak with a certified Ayurvedic or Chinese practitioner or herbalist. And, when implementing turmeric into your daily skincare ritual, begin with a small patch test to ensure that no irritation occurs. From there, you can start to apply in larger portions for radiant, smooth, supple skin.