20 Health, Beauty and Craft Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric is a plant best known for its use in Indian cuisine as the main spice in curry powder. Turmeric has a warm and bitter taste and also a distinctive yellow color that makes it a natural coloring and flavoring agent to many mustards, butters, and cheeses.
Beyond its culinary and coloring uses, however, turmeric has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal value. As a powerful natural anti-inflammatory and antiseptic, turmeric has been used to treat everything from skin conditions to stomach issues and colds to cancer. Curcumin, a chemical compound found only in turmeric, seems to be the magic ingredient in the treatment of many of these ailments.
In researching all the incredible health benefits that turmeric offers, I was surprised to learn a few other uses for this bright yellow root. Who would have thought, for example, that an herb known for its distinctive color would be a component in a natural way to whiten teeth? It’s true! It can also be used in natural DIY art and craft projects! Following are 20 useful ways to take advantage of turmeric in your home, far beyond flavoring curry and chicken tandoori.
Natural Sleep Aid
There are many people who swear by turmeric as being a great way to guarantee a good night’s sleep. The recipe for a soothing sleep aid is as follows:
In a small sauce pan, combine a cup of milk (soy or almond are options) with ¼ to ½ tsp of turmeric powder and ¼ tsp each of cinnamon and cardamom. Heat until warm but not boiled and pour into a mug. Add a teaspoon of honey for sweetness if desired and enjoy!
Soothe Sprains & Strains
Since ancient times, turmeric has been used as an ingredient in a natural anti-inflammatory paste to topically treat sprains and strains. To make an effective medicinal poultice, combine 2 tablespoons of turmeric with a tablespoon of lime juice and add just enough hot water to form a thick paste. Apply the paste to the painful and swollen area and hold in place with plastic food wrap for about 20 minutes. While effective, be warned that this treatment will temporarily yellow the skin in the area so you may want to only use on inconspicuous areas.
Sinking Swimmer’s Ear
Warmed garlic oil is often used as a treatment for swimmer’s ear to push out water and work as a natural antibacterial. Some people add a dash of turmeric to the mix as well to ease pain and inflammation.
Alternately, simply drinking a glass of milk with a teaspoon of turmeric mixed in is another way people fight the symptoms of swimmer’s ear. While the turmeric doesn’t necessarily fight the infection directly, it will help with pain and inflammation as well as improving blood flow and boosting the body’s natural ability to fight the internal infection.
Calm an Upset Stomach
Turmeric has been used for generations as a quick and effective cure for an upset stomach. Only recently, however, has science started to back up the belief. Because turmeric acts as an anti-inflammatory it helps to ease the effects of an imbalance in stomach acids. Too much turmeric can actually cause an upset stomach, so the key here is finding a happy balance. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that up to 500 mg of turmeric can be taken up to 4 times daily to effectively treat an upset stomach or heartburn.
Natural Fat Burner
Worldwide, turmeric has long been known for its ability to help the body burn fat. Turmeric naturally boosts metabolism, helping the body break down fat even while sleeping! As such, it is more and more often being recommended as a dietary weight-loss aid. Much safer than fat loss pills or crash diets, simply finding ways to add turmeric to your foods will help you work your way to a healthy body fat percentage.
The powerful anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric make it a great natural treatment against the pain of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. To accomplish maximum effect, the NIH recommends 500 mg twice daily of turmeric extract supplements. A simpler way to get the same results however, is to just try adding turmeric powder to bland starchy foods like mashed potatoes or even just mix a teaspoon in a glass of water and ingest it that way.
While there is no cure for arthritis, turmeric is a safe and natural way to reduce symptoms and manage pain and inflammation. It’s recommended to consult a doctor for safe ways to incorporate turmeric into your overall arthritis management strategy. If you are looking for Natural Remedies for Arthritis Pain this is the article for you.
The liver plays a large role in the detoxification of the bloodstream and body tissues, and turmeric can help in turn by detoxing the liver. In Ayuvedic health practices, turmeric has been used for centuries to help cleanse the liver and digestive system as well as the kidneys. Keeping these systems operating properly is key to eliminating harmful elements from the body. Overconsumption of alcohol, lack of water intake, and improper diet are especially hard on the liver, and scientific studies show that turmeric can help minimize and even reverse ill effects to tissues.
Turmeric has been shown to help the skin in many ways, from reducing redness to fighting stretch marks and wrinkles. In most cases, turmeric is used topically in skin care treatments, and through its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic abilities, it can soothe irritations as well as rid the skin of impurities.
Turmeric has also shown to be a valuable ally in the fight against skin cancer. A recent study by the University of Texas noted that the curcumin in turmeric inhibits the growth of melanoma cells.
Dealing With Diabetes
Turmeric has made a lot of news for its ability to help prevent and manage diabetes. There is clinical evidence for the effectiveness of turmeric on blood sugar levels, so this is one natural remedy that you can feel good about using in conjunction with your other preventive or management efforts.
You should consult with your doctor before starting to use more turmeric or taking turmeric supplements. If you’re already using insulin or medication to manage your blood glucose levels the addition of turmeric could lower them too far, causing additional problems in the form of hypoglycemia.
Arguably the most convincing reason to begin incorporating turmeric into your diet is its potential to fight the effects of cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, laboratory studies show that the curcumin in turmeric can disrupt cancer formation, kill cancerous cells, and inhibit the growth and spread of cancerous cells and tumors. Human studies on the effects of curcumin on cancer prevention and treatment are in the early stages, but given the potential benefits, it’s nearly a no-brainer to start putting a bit of turmeric on your taters is it not?
Lower Cholesterol & Heart Health
Turmeric helps break up the cholesterol and plaque that is responsible for blocking arteries and causing heart attacks and strokes, the two most deadly forms of cardiovascular disease. The curcumin in turmeric also helps the liver function to filter out and rid the body of so called bad cholesterol, and by naturally thinning blood and increasing circulation, a healthier and cleaner cardiovascular system can be achieved.
Of course, there is no magic cure-all or single treatment that replaces all others when it comes to heart health, so it’s advised to take a multi-tiered approach to your cardiovascular health and wellness, but adding turmeric to your diet or supplement regimen can go a long way toward helping you live a longer and healthier life.
It’s amazing to think that an herb or spice can have an effect on the functioning of your brain, but research has shown that debilitating conditions such as Alzheimer’s can be prevented, and treated, with turmeric. A clinical trial using curcumin extract published in the Journal of Neurochemistry found a 30% decrease in the size of Alzheimer’s-associated brain plaque in treated mice in just one week!
In order to get these benefits you’ll need to take turmeric supplements, as it is unlikely that you’d get enough curcumin through dietary means alone. Consult with your doctor for the best dosage for your needs, and before starting any herbal supplementation.
Turmeric Tea for Long Life?
In a 2010 article on the health benefits of turmeric, Dr. Andrew Weil pointed out that in Okinawa, the Japanese island nation with the world’s longest average life span, people drink turmeric tea daily. Dr. Weil also provided a recipe for this Okinawan anti-aging tea: Simply boil four cups of water, add one teaspoon of ground turmeric, allow to simmer for 10 minutes, strain, and add ginger and/or honey to taste.
It seems counter-intuitive for a yellow herb that can stain skin and teeth to be an effective tooth-whitening treatment, but many people with perfect pearly whites like Former Miss USA Susie Castillo swear by it! There are commercial toothpastes available with turmeric included, but the cheapest way to try if for yourself is with the following simple and effective method: Wet your toothbrush and dip it in 1/8 teaspoon of turmeric powder. Brush teeth as normal, but instead of rinsing when you’re done, allow the turmeric to sit on your teeth for 3-5 minutes. Spit and rinse thoroughly, then follow-up with a brushing using your regular toothpaste. If you notice any yellow turmeric residue around the corners of your mouth, wash it away. Similarly, remove any leftover turmeric powder from your teeth or gums and rinse well. You will likely notice a difference with the first application, but if you don’t keep at it for a few days to a week. You will most likely be pleasantly surprised by the results!
A simple way to enjoy the beautiful color and skin-enhancing qualities of turmeric is in a homemade bar of soap. Hand milling is a simple technique that offers you a simple way to take pride in making your own soap without having to work with lye or other harsh chemicals. To make a DIY turmeric soap, simply melt a bar of your favorite natural soap, add a bit of powdered turmeric, mix well, and pour into a mold to harden! It really is that simple, but if you’d like more detailed instructions, follow this link: How to hand mill soap
For women who find that their foundations or makeups are either too dull or too pink to match their complexion, turmeric may just be a beauty secret waiting to take off! In addition to its anti-inflammatory and skin health components, the color component of this herb is actually a beauty secret of actress Thandie Newton, according to a recent article. In fact, to get just the right glow and tone, women in India have long used turmeric as an additive to their face creams and body scrubs. If you care to experiment with this method on your own, it’s recommended to add just a little turmeric at a time until you get the desired tone and result.
To decrease dandruff and improve overall skin and scalp health above the hairline, many people credit a combo of turmeric and olive oil. It makes sense, really, with all the things turmeric brings to the table coupled with the natural moisturizing effects of olive oil, the two would make a wonderful treatment. An alternative mix to this moisturizing skin healer would be to mix in coconut or jojoba oil with the turmeric. Either way, it’s recommended to massage the mixture into your scalp and leave in for 15 minutes before shampooing and rinsing as normal.
Natural Egg Dye
For those who enjoy the benefits of using all-natural methods of giving Easter eggs bright and vibrant colors, there are a number of ways to do it. While some natural colors can come from such elements as onion skins, beets, and cabbage, there really is no substitute for the golden hue that can be achieved with a bit of turmeric! For a tutorial on how to make some of the brightest, most beautiful Easter eggs you and your family have ever seen, visit this link. Natural Colored Play Dough For the rest of the year when colored Easter eggs aren’t exactly practical, you and your kids can still have a blast making DIY play dough and simply substitute some of the same natural coloring elements for the typical food coloring used. This link can give you some helpful hints and a tutorial on making your own natural coloring for safe and fun dough.
Turmeric can also make a safe and effective fabric dye for the next time you and your kids want to make your own tie dyed tees. Simply add turmeric to a pot of boiling water and let simmer to make a beautiful golden fabric dye. For more tips on tie-dye, visit this tutorial.