Turmeric: The Multipurpose Super Herb

The curative properties of turmeric have lent it to be used as a spice in Indian recipes and medicine in Ayurveda for thousands of years. The healthy nutrients of milk team up perfectly with the anti-inflammatory qualities of turmeric. Turmeric milk or Haldi ka doodh (haldi means turmeric, doodh means milk) brings this sweet nectar onto the favorite’s list of healing rasāyanas of many traditional yogis and Ayurvedic Consultants.

The 6 Tastes

In Ayurvedic cooking we want to make sure we deliver all six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent, and pungent) in every meal.  This balances the doshas which leads to less imbalance and sickness. What I find is that I can eat about 1/3 as much food and feel a sense of satiation when all the tastes are included in my meal. That is such a good thing in this day and age of the giant plate meals. But it also explains why those giant plate meals even exist. In a meal that isn’t well planned to offer all 6 tastes, we continue to eat hoping that we will eventually, if we eat enough, find enough of these tastes and then be satisfied. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t, but either way, we are eating far too many calories.
It is sometimes difficult to get all the tastes into one meal. One of the easiest ways to meet this requirement is to use spices. For instance turmeric supplies the bitter, pungent, and astringent tastes with just one spice. These are sometimes the three harder tastes to add to a meal.  It is a heating spice thought to help in diabetes and also promotes good digestion. Turmeric increases vata and pitta if too much is consumed, and relieves kapha.

Ways To Consume Turmeric

 There are many ways you can take turmeric: fresh, dried and grated as a spice, capsule, or pills. If you read my previous blog about turmeric, you know that turmeric is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiseptic properties offer many benefits. It can relieve pain and swelling (known in Ayurveda as nature’s aspirin) and can even be applied to small cuts and wounds, helping with blood clotting, preventing infection and healing skin.
Milk is a great delivery system for turmeric whether you are using it internally or externally. Adding turmeric to milk increases milks own antioxidant qualities. Milk fights free radicals that damage skin, making it lose its elasticity and glow. Milk also strengthens bones, which helps with osteoporosis and arthritis (joint inflammation and pain). Consuming the drink twice a day before meals will ease morning stiffness, reduce pain and swelling in the joint. But it’s the anti-inflammatory qualities that make turmeric milk a favorite for soothing sore throats and calming coughs.
Raw organic honey is often added not only for taste but for its own powerful anti-oxidant, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties.  Raw honey is known in the Ayurveda world as being a prabhava, a term which means the unexplainable special effect of a substance, that cannot be explained by rasa (taste), virya (the quality of energy released by an herb or food after eating), or vipāka (the final post-digestive effect of food that occurs in the colon and has an action on the excreta.) Being the scientist that I am, this was not a hard concept for me to understand, just a hard one to explain on paper, so thank you Brian Brink, one of my Ayurvedic teachers from Kripalu for that definition.

Some Recipes For You To Try

Basic Turmeric Milk Recipe

Ingredients
  • ½” of fresh ginger grated
  • ½ tsp. dried turmeric powder or 1 inch piece fresh turmeric
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup filtered water
  • 1 Tbls raw honey, or to taste

Method

Place all ingredients except honey into a pan and simmer for 20 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes to seep. Rewarm if needed and then add the honey. Once the honey has been stirred in, strain and sip.

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