Health trends and fads come and go, but here’s one that has been around for centuries and I hope will continue in our society.
I’m talking about turmeric, a spice that likely makes people think “Indian food.”
I used to be in that camp until a few years ago when I began reading about all of turmeric’s health benefits. It really is quite astounding.
There have been thousands of studies, many of which compared turmeric’s benefits directly to prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
For example, one major study found that participants given turmeric instead of a common anti-depressant felt relief from their depression equally with those taking the drug — and without the side-effects that often accompany prescription drugs.
Likewise, the results of other studies have shown turmeric to be just as effective as over-the-counter pain killers for those suffering from chronic inflammation and pain.
Still other studies show that turmeric can increase lifespan. I’m all in for that. Also, it can help protect the liver, kill fungus, lower blood cholesterol, and guard against cognitive/memory defects.
Perhaps most incredible are the studies showing turmeric can inhibit cancer cell growth, boost antioxidant levels and the immune system and can even kill cancer cells.
Turmeric comes from the rootstock of the Curcuma longa plant. It has been used for centuries in the Chinese and Indian cultures. The roots are boiled, dried and then ground into powder.
I remember the first time I saw the odd-looking root in the grocery store next to fresh ginger. The roots almost look like some sort of insect.
I have noticed it is becoming increasingly available at regular grocery stores. Of course, we can also buy the powdered form on the spice aisle or find supplements at the health food store.
But please check with a doctor before starting a new supplement.
Turmeric tastes peppery and a bit bitter. But when added to dry rubs, soups or even taco seasoning, it’s not recognizable.
I also sprinkle some turmeric on hash browns or really anything that might require paprika.
Another easy thing to make is a tea of sorts. Just peel the turmeric (I always go ahead and peel some ginger too), pour four cups of boiling water over the peeled and sliced turmeric and allow to steep for 10 minutes or so.
Now pour into a big pitcher (with the turmeric) and add another four cups of cold water. Add other healthy things like fresh lemon juice, mint and cucumber slices.
I like it that way. But if it’s too strong, add some honey. I don’t recommend using the dried turmeric for this tea since it doesn’t dissolve very well. Nobody wants a clump of turmeric powder in their mouth.
I love finding ways to use food with health benefits. Remember Hippocrates? He is most often considered the father of modern medicine in Western culture.
My favorite quote of his is, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.