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Herbal Remedies: The Turmeric Spice

Updated on April 8, 2018
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My knowledge of herbal remedies comes from self-testing and research. I have poisoned myself so you don't have to, in other words.

The beautiful flower of the Turmeric plant is sometimes used ornamentally. However, for medicine, the root is your primary target.
The beautiful flower of the Turmeric plant is sometimes used ornamentally. However, for medicine, the root is your primary target.

A Brief Description of Turmeric

So you want to know the medicinal benefits of turmeric? Good! It's a marvelous spice and it's often used in Asian cooking. If you've ever tasted the warm, bitter bite of curry then you've already had a bit of turmeric root. For everyone else, take a brief look at your spice rack, your parent's spice rack or a friend's spice rack. There are good odds it's on there. If it's not then I don't know what to tell you. Are you missing out? Do you need a better spice rack? Should you get your butt to a good Indian restaurant and order some curry? All good options, so don't make me choose!

Anyway, it's also a beautiful flower if you can get it to grow in your garden. Unfortunately, it's difficult to get that to happen in America. At the very least, I've never managed to get it to work in Texas. If you're an avid gardener as well as someone who's interested in the arts of herbalism it might be worth a shot. Turmeric can get expensive depending on the random fads and trends of both food and supplements.

A quick forewarning for my fellow herbalists. Try your best not to mix up turmeric with Javanese Turmeric Root. These two herbs may share a name, but they are different both in cooking and in medicine. A lot of the false information about how to use turmeric and what medicinal uses it has comes from people who mixed it up with Javanese Turmeric Root. Don't become a statistic! A statistic I will use on another hub specifically targeting you.

Turmeric Taste Poll

Have you ever eaten turmeric in a culinary situation?

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Before harvesting, turmeric is raised in large batches like this one. It's a far cry from the yellow powder your used to seeing isn't it?
Before harvesting, turmeric is raised in large batches like this one. It's a far cry from the yellow powder your used to seeing isn't it?

The Medicinal Uses of Turmeric

Turmeric is very effective for improving your cholesterol by lowering your VLDL and LDL levels. Now, this isn't an instant effect. You will need to take it on a regular basis for a few months for that health benefit. However, it should start showing results within 3-4 months on your blood-work. If it doesn't, you may want to consult your doctor as you might be accidentally doubling up your cholesterol managing substances.

You can also use the herb for arthritis pain. A few of my friends have said this works almost as well as, if not better than, over-the-counter medication! Be warned though, it's not up to the prescription grade strength. So, if your pain is intense I'd stick with your doctor's recommendation. Otherwise, you have a friend in the turmeric spice!

Finally, if you want, you can try mixing a turmeric poultice for skin inflammation. I say "if you want" because this never seems to work for me. A few people I know swear by it but I have no personal experience of this herb doing anything. Give it a try if you like, but don't expect results. At the very least it shouldn't do anything to hurt you.

Turmeric Medicinal Poll

Why do you primarily use turmeric?

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As the root is harvested and processed turmeric begins to take on its iconic yellow and powdery look.
As the root is harvested and processed turmeric begins to take on its iconic yellow and powdery look.

Preparing Turmeric for Medicinal Use

For those with an adventurous streak you can actually take this herb straight from your spice rack. Mix the powdered herb with a bit of olive oil for an easier trip down your throat or even some water. You can even buy empty capsules and fill them with the turmeric spice. It will work just as well as long as the spice properly digests in your system,

If you're less adventurous, and I don't blame you if you are, look into herbal supplements. Just remember to be very careful with this path. Herbal supplements are unregulated and some brands won't even carry turmeric in them at all. I advise researching the brand carefully before purchasing it even if that brand can be trusted to provide another herb. You never know who's producing what and where.

Now, if you're some sort of gardening wizard and you managed to get turmeric to grow in your area I'll have to explain what you do. The medicinal part of turmeric is the same part used for spices, the bulbous root. You'll have to harvest this root, dry it, and powder it. You can technically eat it fresh but getting the correct dosage for your ailment is very difficult with fresh turmeric root.

Anyway, for high cholesterol take about 750 mg of turmeric twice per day. Preferably you'll want to take this with a meal to help the processing of the spice. It will take some time so don't expect to be able to take a spoonful of turmeric the day before blood-work. That's not how this works at all.

Next, for arthritis pains take about 500 mg of turmeric three to four times a day. If this actually works, which I still have my doubts on, you should notice the pain decrease within a couple days. If it doesn't do anything after a week then I'm just declaring myself right!

Finally, for topical use, mix as much as you like. Do make sure you mix enough liquid or oil in to create a paste but not enough to make it watery. I would advise that you start with around 500 mg of turmeric and add olive oil very slowly while mixing. Getting the exact dosage is more of an art than a science. When you have a nice paste of turmeric you'll want to apply it to the affected area of your skin and wrap tightly with gauze. Change both your bandages and your poultice every few hours.

This is actually better than my attempts to plant turmeric always turned out. My leaves didn't just have damage, the entire plant was barely alive!
This is actually better than my attempts to plant turmeric always turned out. My leaves didn't just have damage, the entire plant was barely alive!

Turmeric Toxicity

A little bit misleading actually as turmeric isn't technically toxic to people. Then again, even if it's not toxic to humans turmeric does have a few warning labels you'll want to keep an eye on. Also, everything is technically toxic in the wrong dosage and turmeric is no exception.

Anyway, please do not feed a medicinal dosage of turmeric to any child under the age of 16. Apparently some of its beneficial effects are caused by the herb affecting our body's absorption. For an adult it's one thing and very minor. For a growing child it's another thing entirely and can cause a number of issues. Best not to risk it until they're old enough to drive.

Next, and seriously, be careful if you're a diabetic. Turmeric can lower blood sugar, again as a result of its affect on absorption. This might also be a benefit to you but it can get out of control fast and make it difficult to get your blood sugar back up to safe levels.

Also, do not take turmeric if you're about to have surgery. You also shouldn't take it if you foresee yourself bleeding within the next 24 hours. The spice can reduce the ability of your blood to clot. This can be considered a benefit in some situations but as I keep saying, medicine is just poison given in the right dose.

Finally, and speaking of clotting, don't take turmeric with blood clotting medications! I'm sure you guessed that but I'll include it for completeness. I'm equally sure somebody missed the link entirely and is already downing both turmeric tablets and aspirin.

For those that haven't figured out what herb I'm talking about, this is turmeric. This!
For those that haven't figured out what herb I'm talking about, this is turmeric. This!

Other Resources for Medicinal Herbs

For other resources related to herbalism and common medicinal herbs, check out my hub about herbalism:

Herbal Remedies and Medicinal Herbs

© 2018 Michael Ward

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