Monday, November 30, 2015

Cancer Doesn't Like Turmeric

   I have been reading a lot about turmeric lately, and am totally on board with adding it to my daily diet.  The healing properties of turmeric first caught my attention more than a decade ago when I read that populations that consume turmeric regularly have a lower incidence of Alzheimer's disease. Another reason, I thought, to love Indian food. Now I am finding out that turmeric also has powerful anti cancer properties.

   Turmeric is a rhizome from the curcuma longa plant that is native to South East Asia, but is also cultivated in other tropical areas. It is related to ginger and has a similar shape and dark tan skin, but is smaller with a bright orange interior. When dried and ground into a powder it is easily recognized by its golden yellow color. You will find it on the ingredient list of those familiar bright golden yellow mustard jars. It is best known as a spice commonly used in Indian cooking, but it also has a long history of use in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. 

  Curcumin, the main healing ingredient in turmeric, is antiseptic, antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Inflammation contributes to many of today's chronic illnesses, such as rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and cancer.  Curcumin can protect us by inhibiting our bodies ability to create the kind of long term low grade inflammation that leads to these diseases. Its detoxifying abilities also protect us by reducing the harm that free radicals do to our cells. 

   Studies are showing promising results in many areas of cancer prevention and treatment. Curcumin has been shown to stop the growth of new blood vessels in tumors, shrink tumors in certain cancers, prevent metastasis, increase the effectiveness of some chemotherapies, and reduce side effects.

Here is a list of some of the other ways turmeric is used in healing:
  • to protect against flu
  • as a natural pain killer
  • to detoxify the liver
  • to sooth an upset stomach
  • to improve digestion
  • as a natural antidepressant 
  • applied topically to heal and prevent infection
   Turmeric can be bought in capsule form and taken like a supplement, but I feel it is better to use it in cooking or to make a tea. I find tea the fastest easiest way to incorporate it into my day. I buy bulk organic turmeric by the pound on

Lemon Turmeric Tea
4c. water
1T. turmeric powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper
lemon or lime juice to taste
optional: sweetener, ginger root, 

Start by bringing the water to a boil. Add the turmeric, black pepper and a few (1/4") slices of ginger. Boil this for ten minutes then remove it from the heat, and strain.
Turmeric has an earthy, almost woody and bitter taste, so a bit of sweetness gives it a nice balance. Honey is best, but if you already have cancer I recommend you go with just a bit of stevia. You want to let the tea cool a bit before adding the juice if you plan to drink it hot, or wait until it cools completely if you will drink it cold. Sometimes I add just a bit of juice, other times I add enough to make it a true lemonade. I usually make it first thing in the morning and drink it cold throughout the day.

If you don't like the way it tastes, start out with less turmeric until you get used to it.

The black pepper is important here. It contains piperine, which improves the absorption of curcumin.

Here is another recipe I like:

Spiced Turmeric Tea
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp. turmeric
pinch of black pepper
2 tsp. of chopped ginger (a couple of slices)
1c. of water
1/2c. almond milk (or you could use coconut milk)
sweetener to taste

Bring the water to a boil. Add all the spices and simmer for ten minutes. Add the almond milk. Heat but do not let it boil. Strain and add sweetener of choice. 

Please note: I have read some contraindications for turmeric. For instance pregnant or nursing mothers should consult their doctors before using turmeric, and it may interfere with some chemotherapies. So, please be sure it is safe for you to use if you have any medical condition.

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