What do we know about Organic Turmeric?
In ancient times there was only organic turmeric available. They did not have pesticides and herbicides back in those days. The following content will look at the research surrounding turmeric. I have not been able to determine if organic turmeric was used in the testing.
We also know that turmeric has been around for about 4000 years. Its use in medicine dates back to at least 250bc.
Turmeric is a product of Curcuma Longa and belongs to the Ginger family. There are, so far, 133 species of Curcuma that have been identified. We also know that much has already been written and research has been carried out to determine the benefits of this humble root spice.
It is also known as the Indian Saffron. India is the largest producer of Turmeric and it also consumes 80% of what it produces. Indian Turmeric holds the undisputed reputation of being the best turmeric in the world.
How is Turmeric grown and processed?
For organic turmeric to thrive, it requires a temperature range of 20 to 30 degrees Celsius plus a high annual rainfall. The ideal condition for growing turmeric is in tropical climates. It is the rhizome (root, tuber) that is harvested and processed. The actual plant grows to a height of approximately 1 m or 3 feet. The rhizome grows under the ground foliage and has shoots and roots growing out from it.
Processing rhizome prior to grinding powder
Before consuming the rhizome it’s necessary for it to be processed. The processing method of the rhizome is done in steps. Traditionally the rhizome was placed in earthenware bowls that were filled with water. The filled water bowls were then covered with leaves and a layer of cow dung was placed on top. The ammonia from the cow dung reacted with the turmeric to give the finished product. This is not done now-a-days in the interest of hygiene.
Method used today
These days, once harvested, the rhizomes are placed in shallow dishes or pans, in large iron vats containing water, with a solution of sodium bicarbonate. They are than boiled for 40 – 45 minutes, depending on the variety of turmeric. After this time has elapsed, the rhizomes are removed immediately and placed in the sun to dry and to stop any further cooking. If the rhizome gives a metallic sound when tapped with your finger, it is ready to be polished. The polishing smooths the rhizome to a finished product. After all this, it is ready to be ground and used for consumption. The flavor of the powder does weaken over time but the powder will always maintain its coloring properties. Slow down degeneration of the turmeric powder, keep it away from sunlight.
Research showing the benefits of using Turmeric
Thousands of studies have been carried out on turmeric to determine its medicinal benefits. The following studies were conducted and showed results that displayed activity against the development of the listed diseases or disorders:
Skin cancer (Villasenlor,Simon, and Villanueva 2002)
Breast Cancer (Deshpande, Ingle and Maru 1998a)
Oral Cancer (Azuine and Bhide 1992a)
Stomach cancer (Azuine and Bhide 1992b)
Detoxifies carcinogens (Thapliyal, Deshpande, and Maru 2001)
The above are but a few studies conducted in the past on turmeric that have showed promising results.
A more recent study
However, one study that I came across recently did provide some really positive and interesting results.
This study was conducted by Newcastle University U.K., as well as a BBC aired program called “trust me, I’m a doctor.” (Please see link below). The experiment was conducted using 100 volunteers. Blood samples were taken from the volunteers at the start of the test. The volunteers were then split into three groups.
The first group was asked to take 1 teaspoon of turmeric per day.
The second group was given a supplement containing the same amount of turmeric.
The third group was just given a placebo tablet.
This was done for a period of six weeks. Blood samples were again taken from the members of the three groups at the end of the six weeks.
Tests done with the sample blood and result.
Three tests were then done on the blood samples taken from the 3 groups of volunteers. I have listed the tests below.
- An oxidative stress test – developed by PB biosciences at Newcastle U.K.
- A detailed count of their white blood cells.
- A test developed at University College London. This involved looking at the methylation of their DNA. The genetic code is carried by methylation for all of our cells.
The first two tests did not show anything unexpected across the 3 groups. There were no significant changes and where there was a slight difference, it could easily be explained away.
However, when the last test (methylation of DNA) was applied to the first group that was asked to use a teaspoon of turmeric powder over six weeks, it appeared that a small quantity of turmeric powder was changing a particular gene. The gene known as SLC6A15) is associated with risks of depression, anxiety, asthma and eczema and also cancer. The gene activity was being changed. It’s still too early to tell if this is a positive or a negative result but as it appears to be improving conditions, it is likely that these changes would provide a benefit to our health.
The above study does suggest that a daily intake of small quantities of organic turmeric powder could be helpful to your health.
To see the interview with Professor Widschwendter and read further from “trust me I’m a doctor click the link below:
Ways to incorporate turmeric into your diet
The following are a few ways that you can incorporate turmeric into your daily diet:
Rice: Add about a quarter teaspoon of turmeric and an eighth a teaspoon of black pepper to water for every 1 cup of rice. Note: It is said that black pepper boosts turmeric by up to 2000 times. You will find that the turmeric will give the rice a mild flavor and your rice will have a beautiful golden color.
A wonderful beverage to have at night is called Golden Milk. There are many variations on this but the main ingredients are organic turmeric, black pepper and ginger. You can sweeten this with organic raw honey. To a drinking cup (8 ounces or 250m) of dairy milk add a quarter teaspoon each of organic turmeric and ginger and about an eighth of a teaspoon of black pepper. Make sure you stir well to mix the spices. Heat but don’t boil the milk with the spices in it. Stir it again and serve as a hot beverage. You can use other types of non dairy milks if you prefer like coconut milk or almond milk etc.
There is also a variety of commercial specialized drinks on the market that include turmeric.
Use turmeric as a marinade or on meats or add to creamy soups. Add when you are frying up onions at the start of a recipe. The mild taste is not an overwhelming one.
Turmeric may stain things like counter tops, cups etc. The stain will probably ware off but It will take some time for this to happen. I usually put down a sheet of foil on the counter top and work off of that to avoid any staining.
Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition – Chapter 13 Turmeric, the Golden Spice by Sahdeo Prasad and Bharat B Aggarwal http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/