Eating Tumeric for Medicinal Benefits? Don’t Forget The Pepper!

This Golden Powerhouse of Healing Needs a Little Help From a Friend.

Since ancient times, the Indian science of ayurveda has used turmeric for a multitude of healing purposes. Its popularity in the west has also risen dramatically in recent years as modern-day scientific studies confirm that this spice is indeed as effective a healing substance as its centuries-old reputation purports.(1)

Tumeric is an eye catching spice that is displayed in eastern markets in glistening golden piles. It is also readily available in western supermarkets. Both the turmeric root, as well as its powdered form, are used in food and remedies.

Eating turmeric in golden tea recipes, juices, or sprinkled on food is a great idea, however if you have been using this spice on its own, you may not be reaping the many health benefits that it is known for. Turmeric is bursting with compounds that have potential health benefits but it is actually very poorly absorbed into our bloodstreams. To increase the bioavailability of the medicinal properties of turmeric (curcumin), it is ideal to pair turmeric with other foods that aid absorption, such as black pepper.

Black pepper is one of the best ways to help maximize absorption into the bloodstream because it contains piperine. This substance has been shown to increase absorption of curcumin by as much as 2000 percent! (2)

There are many reasons to consider incorporating turmeric (and pepper) into your diet. Studies show that turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory (3) and anti-oxidant (4). It is good for your heart (5), your brain (6), has been effectively used to regulate moods (7), and ease arthritis (8). In fact the study link in this article shows tumeric to be MORE effective than the anti-inflammatory drug also included in the study, with the added benefit of having no side effects! I suspect the benefits listed here are just the tip of the iceberg. Scientists continue to deepen our understanding of the health impact of this incredible spice with each new study. It is obvious that the ancient Indian ayurvedic healers knew what they were talking about.

For years I have been drinking turmeric tea, and giving it to my kids in all kinds of remedies, however my new favourite thing is breakfast tumeric juice shots. If you have a juicer this is a great way to add curcumin to your diet without having to dig up new meal recipes, or change the flavour of your current favourite foods (however I do recommend you try adding it to your cooking, it is yummy!).

The photo above has a recipe for the breakfast shots I juiced up for my family to shoot back yesterday as they were going out the door. You can use any combination of ingredients to suit your taste.

Just don’t forget the pepper.

Enjoy!

1. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2013 Jan-Jun; 4(1): 3–7. Role of curcumin in systemic and oral health: An overview.
Monika Nagpal and Shaveta Sood1

2. Planta Med. 1998 May;64(4):353-6. Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers.
G Shoba 1, D Joy, T Joseph, M Majeed, R Rajendran, P S Srinivas

3. Altern Med Rev. 2009 Jun;14(2):141-53. Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent of Curcuma longa: a review of preclinical and clinical research. Julie S Jurenka 1

4. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:105-25. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin.
Venugopal P Menon 1, Adluri Ram Sudheer

5. Int J Cardiol. 2009 Apr 3;133(2):145-51. The protective role of curcumin in cardiovascular diseases.
Wanwarang Wongcharoen 1, Arintaya Phrommintikul

6. PLoS One. 2012; 7(2): e31211.Published online 2012 Feb 16. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0031211. Curcumin Enhances Neurogenesis and Cognition in Aged Rats: Implications for Transcriptional Interactions Related to Growth and Synaptic Plasticity.
Suzhen Dong,# 1 , 2 Qingwen Zeng,# 1 E. Siobhan Mitchell, 3 Jin Xiu, 4 Yale Duan,# 1 Chunxia Li,# 1 Jyoti K. Tiwari, 5 Yinghe Hu, 1 , 2 Xiaohua Cao, 1 , * and Zheng Zhao 1 , *

7. Phytother Res. 2014 Apr;28(4):579-85. Efficacy and safety of curcumin in major depressive disorder: a randomized controlled trial.
Jayesh Sanmukhani 1, Vimal Satodia, Jaladhi Trivedi, Tejas Patel, Deepak Tiwari, Bharat Panchal, Ajay Goel, Chandra Bhanu Tripathi

8. Phytother Res. 2012 Nov;26(11):1719-25. A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis.
Binu Chandran 1, Ajay Goel

Healthline has a great article that links to many more studies. Find at this link to 10 Proven Health Benefits of Tumeric and Curcumin

How to Make Ghee (Clarified Butter)

ghee newsletterI was introduced to ghee when my mother and I were on our first Indian backpacking trip. Mom had some scratches on her legs that were getting sorer and more worrisome by the week. We were staying at an ashram and the morning prayers had just been done with a purifying fire ritual. When our teacher saw my mother’s legs he exclaimed, “That has to be treated now!” He promptly pulled some burnt, ghee-soaked, coals out of the ceremonial fire ashes, ground them between his fingers, and explained that the holy healing properties of ghee, further purified by fire and morning prayers, would be the most powerful remedy possible. We were doubtful, but had already tried all of our travel pharmaceuticals, and so she rubbed this black, greasy powder all over her angry wounds. As you are probably by now expecting, the cuts promptly healed and disappeared. It was only later that we learned, in addition to being an integral part of traditional Indian healing practices, ghee is also an Indian cooking staple.

Ghee is clarified butter. It is heated carefully until the milk solids separate and is then strained into a translucent yellow oil that has a yummy, buttery, slightly-nutty flavor. Ghee has a very high smoke point, making it an ideal cooking oil because you can cook it at a higher temperature than many other oils without losing its health benefits.  It is also rich in fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D and E.

Ghee can be bought in supermarkets but is very easy to make at home. I love the buttery smell it makes in my kitchen, as well as the satisfaction of pouring the glistening finished product into mason jars. While many are intimidated by the idea of making their own ghee it is actually a pretty simple process. Just follow the steps below to make this tasty health elixir and cooking oil.

You Will Need:20170314_081849

  • A medium size sauce pan (with a heavy bottom if possible)
  • A stirring spoon
  • A fine sieve
  • Enough cheesecloth to form several layers
  • A large measuring cup with a pouring spout (optional)
  • 454g (4 cups) of unsalted butter (organic if available)

Instructions:

  1. Cut the butter into cubes.
  2. Melt the butter on Medium heat in the sauce pan.
  3. When it begins to bubble excitedly
    turn heat to medium-low.
  4. The ghee will slowly bubble more
    quickly, the bubbles will get bigger and bigger, and eventually you will see the milk solids separating and floating to the top. Depending on the quality of your pot you may need to stir occasionally.
  5. Eventually the milk solids will sink to the bottom and a
    white layer will form on the top. When you separate this top white layer yo20170314_081831u will be able to see all the way to the bottom of the pot. The ghee will have become translucent.
  6. Continue to cook until a second energetic boiling begins. The bubbles will start again as clear small bubbles, as originally seen on the first boil. At this point the ghee is ready to be removed from heat.
  7. Arrange the cheese cloth in many layers in your sieve and place over a large measuring cup, or another pot.
  8. Pour the ghee through the cheese cloth to leave just the clear translucent ghee in the receiving pot.
  9. Pour into mason jars and leave only lightly covered at room temperature until it cools. It will take a day or so before the ghee solidifies.
  10. You can keep this is your cupboard for a few months or store in the refrigerator for longer.

Bringing the Bread Poultice Back

A Fusion of Ayurvedic and Traditional Newfoundland Healing Approaches.

Bread Poultice Ayurveda Traditional Newfoundland Remedy
Ingredients for Nana’s bread poultice with the addition of tumeric for an ayurvedic touch.

Imagine a  four year old boy sitting with a laptop. Elmo is teaching him ABCs through an interactive video game. His bare thigh is wrapped in cling wrap to stop a tumeric-milk soaked bread poultice from ruining the sofa below. This is a memory of my son a few years ago, and continues to be a pretty good example of the mixture of modern lifestyle and ancient ayurvedic practice that you might find happening at any given time in our home (in this case there also a definite infusion of NL tradition). Am I grateful to live in a time that has a wide array of medical options when we get sick? Absolutely! However when it is possible to avoid those by seeking out the wisdom of ancient practices and traditions that also work I am all about that too. Just ask my kids. They have been known to refer to the spice rack in our kitchen as Mom’s medicines.

Before continuing I should make it clear that I do take my kids to the doctor when they are sick. I do listen with a great deal of respect to our physician, who is very knowledgeable and amazing. I also always fill the prescription for hydrocortisone or antibiotics, or whatever is prescribed…. just in case. It turns out however that I rarely need to use them. My love of Ayurvedic and traditional approaches means that before medicating I always try a gargle, or a tea, or slap on a poultice, and by the end of the day the ailing kid/adult is often getting better on their own.

My motivation for returning to the old-school poultice approach was triggered by a common viral skin condition in kids called mulluscum contagiosum. For some reason each time one of these tiny skin bumps began the process of leaving my kid’s system he got a giant circular infection all around it (think 3-4 inch round, red & swollen infected areas!). Prescription creams did not help and with the looming threat of having to turn to oral medications I remembered my late Nana’s milk poultice. I am not sure if she did it just as I describe below but this was how I remember it.

Nan Taylor 1
My beautiful Nan Taylor showing off her fancy new washing machine. She ran with the times, utilizing a wealth of traditional wisdom while embracing everything that modern life was able to offer, right up until she left this world.

How to prepare a traditional boiled milk bread poultice

  • Boil a cup or so of whole organic milk. I also add turmeric. Nana didn’t use tumeric, but ayurveda uses it extensively as an anti-inflammatory so I pull it out for almost everything that ails you. Just ask my long suffering boys, who, in addition to wearing it, have also consumed quite a lot of it over the years for lots of different reasons!
  • Soak a slice of bread in the hot milk mixture. I use my dad’s homemade bread.
  • Wrap the bread in a cloth and apply to affected area as hot as you can tolerate it on your skin. I slid the bread into a pantyhose leg so I could then tie it around my son’s leg. Kids are squirmy and don’t sit anywhere for long so I had to keep it in place somehow. This is also why I covered the whole area in cling wrap. Tumeric can stain, and milk does not leave a happy aroma in your furniture. Ayurvedic remedies can be messy but add the energy of a four year old boy and chaos ensues!
  • Leave on affected area until bread is completely cool.
  • Repeat twice a day. After a couple of days a pus filled head usually forms in the middle, and the infected area recedes. I did this for a few days every time one of those little bumps began their red infection cycle for about a year. It always worked. My son began to call the pantyhose leg his medicine pantyhose!

If you are interested in an ayurvedic perspective on using food and natural remedies to balance your physical and mental health subscribe to the Shakti Yoga blog where you will find ayurvedic/yogic/wellness type posts, albeit at a sedate posting rate  to ensure that my Pitta/Vata personality does not overload.

Happy poultice making all!

Ayurvedic Cold & Flu Tea

20180106_144225
The ingredients above are staples for many ayurvedic remedies.

Ayurveda is an ancient mind-body science of living that developed in India. It encompasses a wide range of healthy living instruction that is both preventative and therapeutic. Charaka, the author/compiler of one of the foundation texts on Ayurvedic writes that  “When diet is wrong medicine is of no use. when diet is correct medicine is of no need”.

Ayurvedic tea cloves
A mortar and pestle for grinding whole spices.

This means is that in Ayurveda your pantry is your pharmacy, or your first line of therapy for illness. Like so many ayurvedic health and wellness recipes the cold and flu tea below includes many items that you may already have in your kitchen.

To maximize health benefits use freshly ground, organic ingredients. Whole spices mean volatile oils are not exposed to air, thereby slowing their breakdown.  Start with pre-ground spices if that is all you have, however if you plan to use food for healing impact you may want to consider building a whole spice stockpile. Each ingredient in this recipe has an anti-cold property such as anti-viral, anti-mucus, or sore throat soothing. Combining these spices enhances their overall effect.  Make this tea as a winter tonic or whip it up as a remedy if you are starting to feel a cold coming on.

Ingredients:

Cinnamon Use a pinch of powder and stir with a cinnamon stick if you have one.

Cardamom Use pre-ground or toast in dry skillet, grind in mortar to crack pods. Remove pods and grind seeds.

Cloves Use pre-ground or grind in mortar and pestle

Black Pepper Use pre-ground or grind your own peppercorns

Ginger Use powder or a couple of fresh slices. Added tip: For a sore throat lozenge, heat thin slices of ginger in ghee/or butter, dip in rock salt and suck.

Tulsi (Holy Basil Tea) Used traditionally as an anti-viral. Add if you have it. Leave it for next time if you don’t. You can find this in most health food shops.

Organic Honey to taste if desired.

Mix a pinch of each ingredient in hot water. Add honey to taste. Let ingredients settle and drink, or use a tea ball or tea bag if you prefer a clear tea.

Fancy tea cup not required but highly recommended to enhance your drinking pleasure!

Enjoy!