Winter is settling in. Our turmeric and ginger are dying off, which means it's time to harvest! We will talk about how incredibly beneficial turmeric is a little later, but first let's talk about growing your own. Turmeric is a plant you can grow all year anywhere in the Blue Mountains. Surprised? Here is the trick: as your plant dies back around this time every year, put one rhizome in a pot with a good organic potting mixture and keep it indoors. It will shoot into a new plant, which will be very happy if kept warm indoors. It won't mind filtered light and shade and makes a beautiful indoor plant, which will turn excess carbon into oxygen and purify the air. If you wish, plant it out as soon as it is reliably warm outside and it will grow into a bigger plant, which means more turmeric rhizomes!
Turmeric has attracted much attention in the scientific research world in the last two decades. It is part of the Zingiberaceae family alongside ginger, galangal and cardamon. Ithas been used for much of human history for many things, as a dye, a spice, a perfume, in religious ceremonies, as a paint and a symbolic adornment, in festivals and in traditional and modern medicine. The rhizome is used and it is a bright, warm, golden colour.
Medicinally, turmeric has many actions and qualities. Curcumin is a constituent of turmeric that has been studied extensively in the treatment of conditions such as Alzheimers disease, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disease and arthritis. It is a potent antioxidant and has anti inflammatory, anti platelet, antibacterial, immune enhancing and anticancer actions in the body.
Turmeric as a whole rhizome stimulates digestion by encouraging the flow of bile and supporting the liver to function optimally. It provides warmth to slow, sluggish digestion. It provides relief to digestive discomfort especially where pain and inflammation are involved, like stomach infections, ulcers or stress related upset. It is used for skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis where sluggish digestive and liver processes contribute to the condition. Curcumin is also protective to the gut and helpful when ridding the gut of fungal overgrowth like candida, bacteria or parasites.
Curcumin is a great antioxidant and is used in heart conditions and diseases, cholesterol and lipid disorders and diabetes. It has anti platelet activity so shouldn’t be used therapeutically alongside anti platelet or anticoagulant medicines like aspirin and warfarin. It should also be avoided one week prior to surgery for this reason.
Curcumin is really a hero when it comes to inflammation, chronic or acute. It is used for people with arthritis, rheumatism and Alzheimers disease and inflammatory skin conditions. Curcumin also protects the body from tumour growth and development. Turmeric is a herb that is supportive in our day and age for long term health and wellbeing.
Turmeric can be added into the diet very easily (and enjoyably!) by including it in warm drinks like golden milk, curries, bliss balls, or added to rice to make it golden. In Pantree we sell the beautiful Rooibos Turmeric Chai by Mayde Tea, a beautiful tea for the winter or chilled in summer. Turmeric can also be taken in tablet form, usually in its isolated Curcumin state. It is important to look to traditional use when it comes to herbal medicine and not only isolated active constituents. It is well known scientifically that black pepper added to turmeric enhances the bioavailability of medicinal properties to the body by a good scientifically significant mile, as do fats. So a traditional indian curry with turmeric, black pepper and a long list of other gorgeous spices aswell as coconut cream or oil is a perfect medicinal meal. When you are adding turmeric to a recipe also add a crack of black pepper to ensure you’re getting the most from your dear herbal friend Turmeric.