Turmeric: The Golden Herb
Turmeric is an herb obtained from the rhizome of a plant of the ginger family. Fresh turmeric rhizomes (often called roots) look like ginger. They have the same brown skin but turmeric has a bright orange flesh and a very distinct taste and aroma. They taste peppery, earthy, and slightly bitter.
Many mistake ginger and turmeric as roots because they grow underground but they are not. They are rhizomes which are actually stems, stems that grow horizontally underground.
Turmeric has an active ingredient called curcumin which exhibits therapeutic abilities including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
For years, turmeric has been used in Indian and Chinese systems of medicine as a potent anti-inflammatory agent to treat conditions, such as menstrual difficulties, jaundice, bloody urine, hemorrhage, bruises, toothache, flatulence, colic, and chest pain.
Turmeric is used in Ayurvedic medicine as treatment for throat infections, indigestion, liver ailments, and common colds. It is also used topically to treat skin sores and to clean wounds.
Recent researches have highlighted turmeric’s curative properties making it popular in modern cultures.
Fresh turmeric rhizomes, although good enough as they are, can be made into powder which can be stored and readily available at all times. Turmeric powder is derived from the rhizomes which are boiled, dried and ground into powder.
The Golden Paste
Most people have different ways of taking turmeric. The easiest way to benefit from the amazing powers of turmeric is to take the Golden Milk, an ancient Ayurvedic drink from India.
The main ingredient of the golden milk is the golden paste or the turmeric paste. Golden paste is a turmeric-based paste designed to improve turmeric’s absorption to make it easier to tap into its benefits.
How to make Golden Paste
½ cup filtered or purified water
¼ cup turmeric powder
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Put the filtered or purified water in a pan and set over medium heat. Add the turmeric powder and ground pepper into the water and stir well until the mixture turns into a smooth paste. If it becomes too dry, add water. It takes about 7 to 9 minutes to get the paste properly cooked. Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer to an airtight glass container and keep in the fridge for 2 to 3 weeks. After 3 weeks, it can develop a metallic taste which means it is no longer good for consumption.
1 cup filtered or purified water
½ cup of turmeric powder
1 ½ teaspoons of crushed black pepper
5 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil
In a pan of 1 cup filtered or purified water, add the turmeric powder and black pepper. Stir for about 7-10 minutes until it becomes a paste. Remove from heat and add 5 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil. Mix well. Transfer the golden paste into an airtight glass jar and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Why Add Pepper and Oil?
Turmeric has a problem of bio-availability which means that without the black pepper and oil or fat, turmeric is not easily absorbed by the body.
The piperine in black pepper helps turmeric become more bio-available. It is easily and more efficiently absorbed, therefore becomes more beneficial to the body.
When ingested, curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric responsible for its golden color is quickly metabolized before it can be absorbed so it needs piperine to make it more bio-available.
Turmeric cannot dissolve in water but easily dissolves in oil which makes it easy for the body to absorb. That is why, oil or fat is added.
Without the pepper and oil, turmeric’s absorption rate is very minimal you cannot reap its full health benefits. Even a pinch of pepper can boost turmeric’s level of absorption into the body.
The Golden Milk
Just like the golden paste, there are many ways of making the golden milk but the main ingredients are milk and turmeric paste.
¼ tsp turmeric paste (from recipe #1 above)
1 cup milk (organic cow’s milk, almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, rice milk, oat milk)
1 tsp coconut oil (or sesame oil, sweet almond oil)
Honey (or other natural sweeteners such as stevia, maple syrup)
Put milk and turmeric paste in a pan over medium heat. Stir and heat the mixture until it is steaming but not boiling. There are recipes which call for boiling but prolonged heat can destroy the active ingredient curcumin. Remove from heat and when a bit cooled down, add honey and oil. It’s ready to drink.
1 tsp turmeric paste (from recipe #2 above)
2 cups milk
1/8 tsp vanilla
Honey to taste
A pinch of cinnamon
In a pan, gently heat but do not boil the milk and the turmeric paste. Stir to mix the paste into the milk. Add any or all of the optional ingredients according to your preference.
Other recipes call for fresh turmeric to make Golden Milk. For me, I love Golden Milk recipe #1 and I use sesame oil because it blends well with the turmeric taste and aroma.
Golden Milk is a healthy drink that can be taken in the evening before going to bed.
Golden Milk provides the following health benefits, among others:
Boosts the immune system
Helps maintain cholesterol levels
Improves digestive health
Helps detoxify the liver