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The Many Uses Of Turmeric

Turmeric has been a trusted spice with a variety of uses over the last thousand years.  It is best known for its culinary use in curries; however, its uses reach far beyond merely flavoring and coloring food.   While it has a history of being used to color textiles, it is also used in cosmetics, perfumes, and as a remedy for a multitude of health problems. Perhaps the most important part of turmeric’s makeup is the part that gives it color: curcumin. Curcumin has many antioxidant properties that are greatly beneficial for health.

Here are just a few properties of turmeric (curcumin) and how it can be used:


Many of our health problems stem from our bodies being in a state of inflammation in one way or another. Turmeric is one of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatories available today,  and here are just a sampling of a few ways its anti-inflammatory properties can be utilized.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is one painful condition caused by inflammation.  Joseph Pizzorno Jr., N.D. says that curcumin is one of nature’s most potent anti-inflammatory agents and that it ”has anti-inflammatory activity comparable to pharmaceutical hydrocortisone.”  For carpal tunnel syndrome, his general recommendation is 250 to 500 milligrams of turmeric extract (1/4-1/2 teaspoon), three times a day, before meals.

Rheumatoid arthritis is another disease caused by inflammation.  The recommendation for treating rheumatoid arthritis is 300 mg, three times a day, or simply seasoning your food with turmeric. Experiment with curries and other Indian dishes that contain this helpful spice.

Turmeric shows promise for being a future treatment for Alzheimer’s. Those who are studying the effects of curcumin believe that it helps to prevent plaque buildup in the brain, which is thought to be a main cause of the disease.  More studies need to be done, but it looks to be a promising alternative to use in the future to prevent and treat this disease.

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Blood Cleanser

Studies have suggested that turmeric helps the liver to rid the body of more toxins. In the studies, it was found that turmeric seemed to empower the liver to produce more of a variety of beneficial enzymes and to do its job more effectively. Fewer toxins in the body mean less chance of disease.

Turmeric has been shown to inhibit blood platelet aggregation, meaning it thins the blood.  This makes it useful for treating varicose veins, for instance.  The anti-inflammatory characteristics of turmeric enhance its blood thinning property, helping the veins to return to normal function.

Turmeric has also been shown to have the effect of lowering cholesterol. The curcumin helps the liver to make more LDL receptors and thus enables the body to clear LDL cholesterol from the body.


When Dr. David Survan-Schreiber, MD. PhD was diagnosed with cancer, he set out to find a natural cure.  During his search, he found that turmeric encourages cancer cells to die, inhibits growth of tumors, and enhances the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatments. He also found that turmeric, when mixed with black pepper and olive oil (although a different oil will work as well), has been shown to be one of the most effective ways of administering the turmeric to help fight cancer.

To aid in preventing cancer, try mixing a teaspoon of turmeric with the equivalent amount of olive oil and a generous pinch of black pepper and adding this mixture to your next soup, salad dressing, pasta dish or veggies. If you have been diagnosed with cancer already, up the amount of turmeric to one tablespoon.

Digestive Ailments

Turmeric has been helpful to many as an aid for a variety of digestive issues.  It has been shown to be most effective for upset stomach, and a recent study using rats showed that those given curcumin five days before being given an inflammatory agent that normally causes colitis were protected and the signs of colitis were much less than in the rats not given the curcumin.

Since turmeric is already known as a culinary spice, try adding it to your foods and see if your digestive issues are improved with its use.

Be aware that while turmeric (curcumin) can be helpful and is safe as a preventative for gallstones, it is not wise to use it in medicinal amounts if you know you already have gallstones or are having an acute gallstone attack.

Topical Treatments

Sprains – Make a paste using one part salt and two parts turmeric and just enough water to make the mixture of a spreadable consistency. Spread the paste on the affected joint and cover with an old cloth, as turmeric will stain badly. Leave the paste and cloth on for at least twenty minutes and up to an hour, then rinse. This may be repeated once a day until the sprain feels better.

Note: Turmeric will stain your skin.  The discoloration should disappear within about two weeks.

Minor Wounds – Turmeric is an antiseptic, and at one time India offered bandages with turmeric in them.  To treat a minor wound, make a salve or a paste as directed above, apply, and cover with a bandage. Turmeric can be used internally to help in wound repair, with some health professionals recommending taking one teaspoon three times a day. Try mixing it with honey to help it go down more easily.

Sore/Scratchy Throat – Mix warm water with salt and turmeric, gargle, and then refrain from eating or drinking for half an hour so that the salt and turmeric can do their job of killing bacteria.  Repeat as needed.

Tooth Whitening

As has already been mentioned, turmeric has the ability to stain. This might make you wonder why in the world there is a tooth whitening section of this article. Strangely enough, turmeric is an effective tooth whitener. Simply sprinkle some turmeric on your toothbrush (with or without toothpaste), and brush as usual.

The anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric are a bonus if you have sensitive or inflamed gums, and you won’t have sensitivity issues like you might have after using commercial or other natural whiteners such as peroxide.

Be aware that the turmeric will likely stain your toothbrush, and you may have noticeable spots around your sink wherever the turmeric happens to touch.  Simply wipe them away after you brush your teeth.  If you get some on your clothing, rinse the stain and lay the garment out in the sun, which helps remove the stain more effectively than many commercial stain removers.

Things To Be Aware Of When Using Turmeric

For most people, consuming culinary doses of herbs and spices should be safe.

Do not use turmeric (curcumin) in large quantities if you have excessive stomach acid, ulcers, gallstones, or bile duct obstruction or if you are taking anticoagulant meds (such as coumidin), immune system suppressants, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

Medicinal amounts of turmeric have potential to induce miscarriage in pregnant women.

The information in this article is not meant to be taken as medical advice.  Please consult your physician before taking supplements, especially if you are already taking prescription drugs.  Use discretion, do your own research, and be responsible for your own health.

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