Best known as the primary spice in curry, Turmeric (aka curcumin) is also widely used for a wide variety of medicinal purposes. These including the treatment of arthritis, heartburn (dyspepsia), stomach pain, and bloating, intestinal gas, diarrhea, loss of appetite, jaundice, liver problems and gallbladder disorders.
Turmeric is also used for headaches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, fibromyalgia, leprosy, fever, menstrual problems, and cancer, as well as depression, Alzheimer’s disease, water retention, worms, and kidney problems.
Some holistic practioners have been also known to apply turmeric to the skin for pain, ringworm, bruising, leech bites, eye infections and inflammation (including macular degeneration and glaucoma), inflammatory skin conditions, soreness inside of the mouth, and infected wounds.
Meanwhile, resin from South and Southeast Asian. Turmeric (not to be confused with Javanese turmeric root (Curcuma zedoaria) is used as a flavor and color component in foods, while its essential oils are used in the production of perfume.
It should be pointed out, however is difficult for the body to absorb, and that ingesting straight turmeric by itself has almost no effect on the levels of curcumin in the blood. However combining turmeric with Black Pepper (as used in Indian curry) has been found to increase bio availability of curcumin. In fact, modern researchers note that even a small amount of black pepper helps.
For those who don’t ordinarily eat a lot of authentic Indian curries, or don’t have the occasion to use the spices in other dishes, Dr, Marc Grossman of Natural Eye Care, Inc. in New Paltz, NY notes that capsules with curcumin and black pepper are available in many health food stores. These include BioPerine®, a “patented thermogenic activator derived from black pepper.
It should also be noted that it is easier for the body to absorb turmeric if it is heated. While this is not really practical with capsules, it is a natural for cooking. Add a good amount to sautés and other suitable dishes. In addition taking turmeric with a healthy fat like olive oil, coconut oil or ghee (clarified butter). makes the curcumin bypass the liver and go into the bloodstream through the lymphatic system.
Again, although turmeric powder is primarily used in savory dishes, it is sometimes incorporated into sweet dishes in India as well, such as sfouf cake. In addition Indians also layer rice flour and coconut-jaggery mixture on turmeric plant leaves (patoleo), which are then closed and steamed in a special copper steamer).
In other areas, the spice is often used to give a bright yellow color to canned beverages, baked products, dairy products, ice cream, yogurt, yellow cakes, orange juice, biscuits, popcorn color, cereals, sauces, and gelatins, etc.
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