Turmeric is a Curcuma longa, a perennial plant that is part of the ginger family ‘Zingiberaceae’. You’re probably more familiar with it in its powdered form, however, which you might have encountered in your kitchen cupboard or in curries and other cooking.
This is a yellow-ish/orange spice that is used in place of saffron for curries thanks to its similar taste but lower price. It is also popular as a food dye, which can help make food appear more vibrant and interesting.
But while turmeric is popular for cooking, its uses go far beyond that! In fact, turmeric is commonly used for a whole range of different things, including a wide number of different health benefits. It is an important part of traditional Ayurvedic practices and is purported to have many uses and health effects. As it turns out, modern science is now uncovering evidence to back-up many of these traditional uses… and a whole host more besides!
This is an incredibly versatile and useful product to keep in your cupboard then – not just for cooking but also for your health. Read on and we’ll explore 30 fascinating uses for turmeric…
Turmeric, or more precisely curcumin which is the active ingredient in the spice, is a very powerful antioxidant. This makes it highly effective at helping to combat the onset of cancer, aging, and other unwanted effects.
Antioxidants are essentially compounded in our diet that neutralize ‘free radicals’ on contact. Free radicals meanwhile are substances that move around our system and are reactive when they interact with cells. This causes damage to our cell walls, but worse is that it can eventually cause damage to the DNA inside the nucleus. If the cell walls are bombarded by the free radicals continuously, they will eventually make it all the way through where they can damage the genetic code.
This is what leads to cancer: the damage can lead to mutations in the code and those mutations are then copied and multiplied each time that the cells split and multiply via mitosis.
Adding turmeric to your cooking then will improve the antioxidant benefits of whatever you’re eating, improving your health and longevity in the process!
It’s possible that turmeric may be effective at combating arthritis. This is because it is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and thereby may be able to reduce the swelling and inflammation that causes pain and mobility issues for those suffering from the condition.
Inflammation is caused by molecules called ‘pro-inflammatory cytokines’. These travel around the body and trigger inflammation all throughout your entire system – irrespective of region. That is to say, that just because it is your hand or wrist that is swollen, the cytokines might also be acting elsewhere on the body with less noticeable effects. This can lead to brain fog, among other issues.
Turmeric can effectively fight against this process by inhibiting the ‘COX-2 enzyme’. That can help to prevent the effect of cytokines and help ease the sensation of pain and discomfort.
3. Food Coloring
As we mentioned, turmeric has a very bright and vibrant yellow/orange color. This makes it not only a great ingredient for its taste and flavor, but also for its ability to make food look more appealing.
When you think of curry, you probably think of meat in sauce that is very brightly colored. This bright color helps to make the meal that much more appetizing and memorable – and it is very good for the restaurants and companies selling it as it helps to make the food sell itself. When people see brighter food, they assume it will taste better. They are more likely to take photos for Instagram, and they are more likely to upload those photos as well!
Adding turmeric to curries is a great way to make them look like… well, curry. But you can also use this strong pigment in a range of other ways – for instance, it can be used to make some cakes look more attractive!
4. Coloring for Other Things
The fact that turmeric can be used for making food look so much more appealing already gives it an impressive use that goes beyond what you might expect from a regular herb or spice.
But this goes even further when you realize that turmeric is also very beneficial for coloring a whole host of other things. For instance, you can actually use it in order to dye fabric! So, if you have clothing or upholstery that you think could benefit from a bright orange/yellow hue… well, then turmeric might be the answer!
And you can even use turmeric as a form of natural hair dye! It’s also popular in soap. There are a ton of videos and blog posts on this subject, so just check them out for more on how to actually go about it. For families looking for fun activities and creative endeavors, this is a particularly fun option as it allows you to make colored items using an everyday ingredient that can be found around the home and that is completely natural.
And as a hair dye or similar, it has the advantage of not containing any harsh chemicals that could potentially cause harm – instead, it could help to actually improve your health.
5. Intestinal Health
Turmeric is also very beneficial for enhancing the health of internal organs. In particular, it is very useful for protecting the intestines. This is partly because of the fact that the spice is anti-inflammatory, meaning that it can effectively combat against inflammation in the area.
At the same time though, studies also demonstrate that turmeric and curcumin can help to strengthen the intestinal walls and thereby help to prevent bacteria from passing through and causing infection.
The result of this is that you can enjoy healthier bowel movements and avoid painful upsets like diarrhea and gas. This may also be a useful way to help treat and improve an existing intestinal issue.
6. Stomach Health
Turmeric doesn’t only improve the intestines, it’s also very beneficial for the stomach. In a similar manner to the way that it benefits the intestines, turmeric can aid the stomach by helping to thicken the lining. This provides additional protection against stomach acids and once again, against infections.
This is very important to consider if you have been on a course of antibiotics, if you have been feeling very sick and unwell, or if you have been vomiting a lot which can cause damage to the stomach lining.
In general, turmeric can help to strengthen and improve the performance of a great many different organs and this is another very good reason to supplement!
7. Alcohol Addiction
Turmeric is like a superhero of the spice world, seemingly having powerful benefits for just about every kind of ailment and problem under the sun. It makes sense that turmeric should be nutritious and that it should contain antioxidants – many foods do.
But did you know that it can also potentially help you to combat alcoholism? This is due to a combination of effects. Firstly, it’s thanks to the organ-health-supporting properties of turmeric that we have already touched upon. Turmeric is able to help restore the health of the liver and protect it against further damage from alcohol.
At the same time though, turmeric can also protect against toxins and harmful agents found in alcohol. It might even reduce the effect that the alcohol has on you.
There’s a big push these days to eat more natural and organic foods and to stay away from many of the highly processed or synthetically-made ingredients. We’ve all heard that organic foods are healthier for us, and there’s a number of potential reasons for that.
One of these reasons, is that crops that are not grown organically are grown using pesticides. Those pesticides are used to kill pests and insects that could otherwise damage the crops. Not only is this bad for the environment (it can harm birds and other creatures), but it is also likely to be bad for us – the long term effects aren’t fully known, however.
By using turmeric though, you may be able to mitigate some of these effects. Turmeric itself is a naturally occurring and pesticide-free substance. But at the same time, it also has the significant benefit of being able to actually combat the effect that pesticides have on white blood cells!
9. Immune System
A curry a day keeps the doctor away? That could very well be the case!
We’ve already seen that the antioxidants in turmeric can help to protect the cells against damage from free radicals.
This can also help to protect and strengthen the immune system – the reason being that it will reduce the amount of work that the immune system has to do, allowing it to focus on keeping bacteria out.
At the same time, turmeric is also a good source of vitamin C – which we will discuss more in a moment. It has a number of other beneficial nutrients besides.
But on top of all that, turmeric is also able to help protect the white blood cells from pesticides as we’ve just seen. Seeing as most of our modern diets involve some pesticides, this is essentially as good as saying that turmeric does help to protect the white blood cells.
And what do white blood cells do? They operate your immune system! So, in other words, this is just one more way that you can use turmeric to keep illness at bay!
10. Turmeric for Diabetes
One of the most impressive benefits of turmeric is its ability to help combat diabetes. It can do this because it is able to improve insulin sensitivity.
This, in turn, means that the body becomes better at using sugar – it becomes better at absorbing sugar from the food in your diet and actually using it. That has a few different effects, but most importantly, it can stave off Type 2 Diabetes, which is caused by insulin insensitivity.
In fact, turmeric is so beneficial for those suffering from diabetes, that it may even be better than some diabetic medication according to a number of studies.
And another consideration here is just how many people suffer from poor insulin sensitivity owing to overly sugary diets. If you fall into that camp, then turmeric can provide a lot of benefits.