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  7. Turmeric: From ancient medicine...

Turmeric, a spice we usually associate with golden, fragrant, robust curries and other South Asian cuisine, is currently making a resurgence in the health and nutrition communities. This is due to the increasing amount of promising results arising from Turmeric research in areas such as cancer treatment and prevention, cholesterol, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and bowel disorders. The benefits of Turmeric as an organic medication are largely attributed to Curcumin, a healing substance found in the spice which is also the source of its vibrant golden colour.

Curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which are thought to be at least as strong as Ibuprofen, and is also packed with anti-oxidants. As an organic alternative it therefore provides a multitude of benefits without the toxic and unpleasant side-effects of over the counter medication. Turmeric is also rich in Dietary Fibre, Iron, Manganese, Potassium and Vitamin B6.

While Turmeric is steadily gaining attention for its healing properties today, it has actually been used medicinally for over 4,500 years. Samples dating back to as early as 2500 BC taken from pots discovered near New Delhi revealed Turmeric residue, while historians have confirmed that since around 500BC Turmeric has been an integral part of Ayurvedic medicine.

Ayurveda translates to ‘science of life’, and is an ancient Indian system of natural healing that makes use of many organic, natural products, and is still practised today. In Ayurveda, inhaling fumes from burning Turmeric is encouraged to alleviate congestion, drinking Turmeric juice is still used to aid the healing of wounds and bruises, and Turmeric paste is applied to all sorts of skin conditions, from smallpox and chicken pox to blemishes and shingles.

In Indian culture, the importance of Turmeric goes far beyond medicine. The Hindu religion sees Turmeric as auspicious and sacred, even using it in wedding traditions to indicate that the bride is now considered as married and capable of running the household. Turmeric is also, of course, a wildly popular food additive, especially in South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking. It gives curry its distinctive golden colour and strong flavour and is also used as a colouring agent in cheese, butter and other foods.

Turmeric was not recognised for its incredible properties in the western world until fairly recently, with only a few historical mentions of its usage in Europe, however Marco Polo is documented as speaking of the spice, comparing it to Saffron in 1280. By the middle of the 20th Century the western world began to take notice of Turmeric, as research began to identify its many benefits.

Today, Turmeric is used as an organic medicine for ailments as varied as rheumatoid arthritis, conjunctivitis, skin cancer, small pox, chicken pox, wound healing, urinary tract infections and liver ailments. It is also often used to great success against digestive disorders, menstrual difficulties and abdominal pain. To start experiencing the incredible health benefits of Turmeric for yourself, you can incorporate the spice powder into foods, try it in smoothie form, try the Turmeric chai-like drinks and teas, or take the convenient capsules.