Turmeric... A Precautionary Tale


Turmeric is a spice that comes from the turmeric plant. It is commonly used in Asian food. You probably know turmeric as the main spice in curry. It has a warm, bitter taste and is frequently used to flavor or color curry powders, mustards, butters, and cheeses. But the root of turmeric is also used widely to make medicine. It contains a yellow-colored chemical called curcumin, which is often used to color foods and cosmetics. Turmeric is used for arthritis, heartburn (dyspepsia), joint pain, stomach pain, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, bypass surgery, hemorrhage, diarrhea, intestinal gas, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, jaundice, liver problems, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection, stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gallbladder disorders, high cholesterol, a skin condition called lichen planus, skin inflammation from radiation treatment, and fatigue. It is also used for headaches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, fibromyalgia, leprosy, fever, menstrual problems, itchy skin, recovery after surgery, and cancers. Other uses include depression, Alzheimer's disease, swelling in the middle layer of the eye (anterior uveitis), diabetes, water retention, worms, an autoimmune disease called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), tuberculosis, urinary bladder inflammation, and kidney problems. Some people apply turmeric to the skin for pain, ringworm, sprains and swellings, bruising, leech bites, eye infections, acne, inflammatory skin conditions and skin sores, soreness inside of the mouth, infected wounds, and gum disease. Turmeric is also used as an enema for people with inflammatory bowel disease. In food and manufacturing, the essential oil of turmeric is used in perfumes, and its resin is used as a flavor and color component in foods. Don't confuse turmeric with Javanese turmeric root (Curcuma zedoaria).

How does it work?

Turmeric contains the chemical curcumin. Curcumin and other chemicals in turmeric might decrease swelling (inflammation). Because of this, turmeric might be beneficial for treating conditions that involve inflammation.

TURMERIC ELIXIR

Makes: One 4-ounce jar of syrup Prep time: 8 minutes Cook time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons of fresh turmeric, peeled and grated

  • 2 tablespoons of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

  • 1 lemon, sliced and quartered (grate/chop up ½ of the peel to be included, and discard the other ½)

  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper, freshly ground

  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder

  • ½ cup of raw honey

  • A mason jar

Instructions:

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.

  2. Pound the mixture slightly to release the juices.

  3. Store the paste in a mason jar in the fridge. This can last up to a month.

Making The Elixir

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 tsp of the turmeric paste

  • 1 cup hot water

Instructions: Mix well and enjoy.

TURMERIC LEMONADE RECIPE

Ingredients
  • 4 cups of cold filtered or sparkling water

  • 1 teaspoon of freshly grated or powdered turmeric

  • 3 tablespoons of 100% maple syrup, honey (or Stevia if you are avoiding sugar)

  • Juice of 1 organic lemon or 2 limes

  • Juice of 1 or 2 blood oranges or regular oranges.

Directions
  • Combine all ingredients into a small pitcher, stir and serve with a slice of lemon as a garnish. Add ice cubes for a refreshing drink!

TURMERIC-COCONUT MILK "GOLDEN MILK"

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups coconut milk

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

  • 1-inch piece of sliced ginger root

  • Raw honey to taste

Directions:
  1. Add all ingredients, except the honey, together in a bowl and whisk together.

  2. Pour into a saucepan and heat until it is at a low boiling and bubbling.

  3. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 5 minutes.

  4. Strain out the ginger root, add the honey and enjoy while warm.

This is not a difficult recipe to make, and it is delicious—the creaminess of the coconut blending well with the spice of turmeric and the sweetness of honey. And it is also a very effective remedy for digestion that will help to prevent nighttime stomach problems and promote uninterrupted sleep.

Caution:

If you’re on any medication, please refrain from consuming turmeric in any form.

TURMERIC’S UNEXPECTED REACTIONS

Many of the components that make turmeric so beneficial are the same ones that make it harmful to take in combination with certain medicines:

1. Blood Thinner

For example, turmeric’s anti-thrombotic property, the property that makes it able to reduce blood clots, makes it dangerous to take in combination with blood thinning medication.

2. Antacids

Turmeric also interferes with drugs that reduce stomach acid. If taken in combination with these drugs, it will actually increase your body’s production of stomach acid. This can cause nausea, bloating and stomach pain and can also damage your esophagus.

Drugs that reduce stomach acid include: Cimetidine (Tagamet), Famotidine (Pepcid), Ranitidine (Zantac) and Omeprazole.

3. Blood Sugar Lowering Medication

Turmeric is possibly dangerous if taken in combination with drugs for diabetes (that lower blood sugar). Turmeric strengthens the effects of these drugs, increasing one’s risk of developing low blood sugar. This can lead to a variety of side effects including shakiness, anxiety, blurred vision, delirium and overall reduced cognitive function.

4. Anti-Histamines

Turmeric may also cause allergic reactions in some people, including outbreaks such as hives or rashes, or even shortness of breath and anaphylaxis. If you are taking any drugs or medications, or are experiencing allergic symptoms when taking turmeric, it is advised to either reduce the amount of turmeric you are taking or find a different, natural alternative.

For all of the above medications, there are natural alternatives. If you are on any of the above medications on a long-term basis, be aware of their effects on your body. Work with your doctor to reduce dosage and gradually wean them off for good.

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