by Moe Aye
The potency of turmeric powder has been acknowledged since the ancient times, most notably used by Cleopatra in her beauty regimen by utilizing the ingredient in a milk bath. There are many DIY tutorials for skin using other pantry ingredients with turmeric – yogurt, besan powder, honey and eggs just to name a few. However, many overlook the health benefits that turmeric can have when consumed orally.
For instance, women in Myanmar use turmeric during menstrual cycles to ease cramps by creating small pills made from turmeric, water and a pinch of salt. The ingredients are mixed together in a thick, moldable paste and rolled into small round tablets by hand. They are then placed on a bamboo tray and left under the sun to dry for two days before consumption. In the first few days of the cycle, women take four turmeric pills because it not only eases cramps but controls a heavy flow. Although women can use turmeric for feminine hygiene, the benefits are not limited to a specific gender.
According to The Complete Herbal Guide, turmeric “promotes intestinal health and treats stomach ulcers and colitis” because it is a known antiseptic. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that, although may not cure diseases, can ease the symptoms that come with diseases such as cancer or bronchitis. Because of such properties, turmeric is also known to help patients suffering from arthritis, osteoporosis, or even insomnia because it also contains “tryptophan”, an amino acid that “induces a peaceful and blissful sleep.” Because of these reasons, turmeric is hailed as a holy grail ingredient that should be in every household. Those who do not enjoy the ingredient because of its slight pungency may find it helpful to add them in smoothies and teas to mask the flavor. However, some may argue that it is not the taste that they do not like, but the belief that turmeric is not as beneficial as it is known to be.
According to TIME Health, the “golden spice” doesn’t “live up to its hype…as far as current evidence shows.” The popularity of the spice is reliant on the hype that it gets from media – health specialists have little voice when a celebrity or any influencer talks about the ingredient in a positive light. TIME Health found that the body does not absorb curcumin, a chemical compound in turmeric, easily and the health benefits that are preached since ancient times are more glimmer than gold.
However, this does not stop dieticians from recommending turmeric since, when paired with black pepper, the body absorbs turmeric better and health benefits discussed above can reach its full potential. When used in moderation, turmeric can do nothing but help one’s body. That is why, despite the western science community discussing about the benefits and myths of turmeric, eastern cultures have wholly accepted the ingredient as a staple for those who seek to live a healthy, fruitful life.
Picture Credit: Currystrumpet