When we’re feeling less than our best, we turn to medicine. This concept isn’t a new one, as humans have been relying on medicine to treat and prevent illness for thousands of years. What we have changed, is the source for these healing remedies. While it may seem odd to us now to reach to the spice rack for relief from what ails us, to our ancestors those vibrant flavors were (a conveniently delicious) ticket to good health. Even without the science to back it up, the humans before us knew of the health benefits of turmeric, and the other spices that fill our kitchen cabinets.
History tested, science confirmed
Turmeric is one of history’s most valuable spices, having long been used in both Chinese and Indian cultures as a culinary ingredient, healing remedy, and textile dye. The vibrant yellow color comes from the plant compound Curcumin, which is believed to be the primary pharmacological agent in turmeric. Curcumin also happens to be a potent anti-inflammatory, something we have discovered with sophisticated science, but that was intuitively realized by the ancient cultures who utilized the spice as a healing agent. Turmeric’s powerful anti-inflammatory effects are comparable to drugs such as hydrocortisone and Motrin; minus the incurring toxicity, and with the added benefit of flavoring your curry (source).
Is there even a question?
In fact, you might be able to replace your entire medicine cabinet with shakers of the yellow stuff. A five year long study has recently revealed that the therapeutic application of turmeric is as effective or more than 14 prescription and over the counter medications, including:
1. Lipitor (cholesterol medication)
2. Steroid medications
3. Prozac (antidepressant)
4. Aspirin (blood thinner)
5. Anti-Inflammatory drugs, including Ibuprofen and Naproxen
6. Oxaliplatin (chemotherapy drug)
7. Metformin (diabetes drug)
It has also been shown to delay liver damage, inhibit the growth of skin cancer and the spread breast cancer, reduce the occurrence of Alzheimer’s, and relieve symptoms of arthritis (source).
All the more reason to get cookin’, if you ask me.
Brought to you by the makers of Turmeric…
You’re not going to see a commercial for turmeric during the Superbowl this year, but that doesn’t mean it’s not just as effective as the prescription drug you mostly likely will see an ad for. Those drug companies have deep pockets, and their unrelentless push to medicate the American public is arguably more effective than their product. 7 out of 10 Americans take at least one prescription drug, and over half of us take 2 or more (source).
There is a reason for eating that goes beyond satiating our appetites. We are not as intelligent as nature, and despite the progress we make, we never will be. A bite of food is more than just the calories, fat grams, and soluble fiber that it encompasses. We’ve begun to see beyond these nutrition label markers, as phytonutrients and other invisible plant components are gaining attention for their health giving abilities.
But while we like to think that our current understanding of how things work is unabridged, there is so much going on inside of that bite that we have yet to discover, let alone understand.
How about the rest of the spice rack?
Turmeric is one of the most thoroughly researched plants in history, and through this research we have come to understand the power of its medicinal applications. But how about all of the other spices in your kitchen cupboard? If given the opportunity to be just as thoroughly researched, would they turn up similar findings?
The good news is, there’s no real risk or scary side effects involved with a bit of self experimentation, just incredibly flavorful food.
*The golden milk featured in the photograph above is a modified version of the healing beverage revered in Ayurvedic Medicine. You can find the recipe from Wellness Mama here.
*I try to consume turmeric by adding it to foods and beverages because I think that foods in their whole form are the best way for our bodies to utilize their healing capacities. I’ve also taken turmeric in capsule form which is a convenient (albeit, less delicious) way to reap the benefits.
Don't let me do all the talking! Let me know what you think in the comments.