Turmeric and Systemic Inflammation
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) has been used medicinally for thousands of years. This medicinal part of this plant grows underground and is known as a rhizome. Turmeric has become famous for its anti-inflammatory effects, especially for a compound it contains called curcumin.
Known Properties of Turmeric
• Improves sleep
• Promotes healthy digestion
• Relieves gas and bloating
• Thins excess mucus
• Wound healing
Many recent studies have cited turmeric as effective for pain relief in conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, other joint pain, stomach pain, IBS, skin inflammation, and exercise recovery. The pain relief that can take place is due to turmeric’s action as an anti-inflammatory throughout the body. Decreasing inflammation in the joints, gastrointestinal system, blood vessels and beyond can improve blood flow and decrease pain throughout the body.
Other Health Benefits
- A potent anti-oxidant that has the ability to neutralize free radicals (which cause oxidative damage associated with aging and chronic disease)
- May improve memory by increasing the capacity for new neural connections to form in the brain
- Protective effects on endothelial cells that line blood vessels, lowering the risk for heart disease
- Potential for cancer prevention and treatment
- Has been shown to be more effective than anti-inflammatory medication in some patients with rheumatoid arthritis
- Can boost levels of certain neurotransmitters, reducing symptoms of depression
Adding fresh or dried turmeric to your food is an excellent way to gain the health benefits listed above. The absorption of turmeric is increased when paired with coconut oil, milk and other healthy fats. Turmeric is fat soluble (meaning it binds to fats) and is more readily absorbed in the gut when bound to things like coconut milk. Adding black pepper has also been proven vital for the absorption of turmeric – it increases the absorption of turmeric by as much as 2000%! Therapeutic doses of turmeric can be easier to achieve for some by taking a supplement. Check with your naturopathic doctor for the best supplement and dose for your specific needs.
One delicious way to consume a medicinal dose of turmeric is through golden milk. Golden milk is essentially turmeric and other anti-inflammatory ingredients prepared in a frothy and nourishing beverage. It’s a cozy and soothing drink that may help you fall asleep and assist your body in its nightly detoxification and reparations.
Golden Milk Recipe (serves 2)
2 C dairy milk alternative such as almond, hemp or coconut
2 tsp coconut oil
1 small slice of fresh ginger, peel removed
2-4 tsp maple syrup or honey (to taste)
1 T turmeric
Dash of cinnamon
Dash of freshly ground black pepper*
Warm milk of choice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add remaining ingredients and whisk continuously until incorporated. Bring the mixture to a simmer then reduce heat to low. Give your golden milk another good whisk, then pour into mugs and enjoy!
*Enjoy this cozy beverage 30-40 minutes before bed to improve sleep and aid in the body’s natural healing and restorative processes.
Dr. Natalie Walch is a licensed naturopathic physician with a focus on chronic gastrointestinal issues, autoimmunity and inflammation. She is now accepting new patients at her office in Kent, WA. Click here to find out more.