In the last post we talked about the benefits of supplementing the diet with bone healthy goodness in the form of bone broth and gelatin. If you missed it you can find it here. Today we are going to look at an ancient remedy that is as precious as gold! It has been used for centuries because of its healing properties for just about everything and is just as useful today in our stressful modern world.
Turmeric is known as the ‘The Spice of Life’ or ‘The Golden Spice’. This exotic root has been used forever in asia for just about everything from dying clothing and skin to a cure for whatever ails you. Check out this article for 100 health benefits of Turmeric.
Of its many health properties the ones that stand out regarding arthritis are that it reduces inflammation, is a powerful antioxidant, natural pain killer, regulates immune responses, and protects bones from osteoarthritis. This common cooking spice can easily be added into your daily real food regime.
Turmeric is absorbed better when taken with black pepper and a little bit of fat which when looking at the traditional recipes for curry dishes these ingredients are usually included.
You can make a batch of Turmeric paste so that you can easily add a spoonful or two to your food or warm beverage throughout your day. One of the most enjoyable ways to have turmeric is in the form of Golden Milk. This traditional beverage is warm and comforting with earthy spicy taste.
Golden milk can be made by adding 1-2 spoonfuls of turmeric paste to warm milk (coconut, almond, or hemp), and sweeten with honey and spices as you like.
Remember that turmeric is very staining, so unless you want yellow hands and clothes take care when working with the raw herb. I may have dyed my white kitchen sink yellow in the making of turmeric paste!
1 ¾ cup water
½ cup coconut oil
½ cup organic turmeric
1 T cinnamon
1 T ginger powder
1 tsp boswellia powder
1 tsp black pepper
6 T raw honey (local honey is best)
Boil all ingredients except honey on medium heat for 10 minutes. Then let cool and add honey, whisk together until smooth. Store in glass jar in the refrigerator, up to 3 months
Curcumin is the ‘active’ ingredient in turmeric, but like I have said before part is never as good as the whole. In studies comparing turmeric to curcumin alone, turmeric always comes out on top in regards to immune building, antioxidant properties, and brain boosting powers.
Turmeric also came out on top in a study comparing the efficacy and safety of turmeric to ibuprofen in patients with Knee Osteoarthritis. In this study, patients were given either 2000 mg of turmeric (Curcuma domestica) spread out over four 500 mg doses a day or 800mg of ibuprofen in two 400 mg doses. At the end of the 6 weeks study, the turmeric group showed better performance walking, reported less pain when going up and down a flight of stairs, and had less adverse effects compared to the ibuprofen group.
Also in the Turmeric paste you will see the herbs ginger (Sheng Jiang), cinnamon (Rou Gui) and boswellia (Ru Xiang) These are wonderful common spices used in Chinese medicine that are really beneficial for arthritis and seen in many different herbal prescriptions for pain due to wind cold damp invasion (translation: tight, stiff, deep pain that is worse in the cold and better with warmth).
Ginger is warm in nature and spicy in flavor, it can dispel wind and cold, and relieve pain. Studies have shown that Ginger powder can reduce inflammatory markers in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Other benefits of ginger include aiding digestion and reducing the toxic effects of other foods or herbs.
Cinnamon bark is also warming with a sweet and spicy flavor. It disperses deep cold, alleviates pain, and encourages the generation of qi and blood. Cinnamon can also help to stabilize blood sugars, protects the heart, lowers inflammation, and is a good source of antioxidants (source).
Boswellia, also known as indian frankincense, has been used medicinally for centuries. It has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-microbial properties. It treats arthritis as well as bursitis, diarrhea, snake bites, coughs, sores, ringworm, asthma, Ulcerative Colitis, and many others (source). In Chinese medicine, it is used to warm and regulate or move the blood, relax the tissues, relieve pain, and generate flesh.
If you don’t have the palette for turmeric I still recommend getting it in, so pill form is fine. You want to be cautious of cheap Curcumin supplements on the market today as many are not pure turmeric but can have fillers like dye and lead to give it the orange appearance of turmeric. So make sure to only get it from reputable sources. In the office I use the Mediherb products by Standard Process: Turmeric Forte and Boswellia Complex.
The Boswellia Complex is the closest supplement to the Turmeric paste because it has the turmeric, boswellia, and ginger in it along with celery seed. Celery seed is anti-inflammatory with antirheumatic and slight diuretic properties. It helps with swelling and is useful for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and good old rheumatism.
The Turmeric Forte is a combination of turmeric and fenugreek seed. In the Chinese model, the fenugreek (Hu Lu Ba) helps to tonify the yang qi which means it helps move things in the body. It helps with circulation and is also warming so its good for arthritis that is aggravated with cold and damp, or for those who feel better with warmth.
If you are taking turmeric in pill form you want to take it along with a little bit of fat so that it is absorbed better. I recommend taking it at the same time as your fish oil, I use Cod Liver Oil or Tuna Omega-3 Oil.
If you are interested in learning more about how turmeric could help you, give me a call or send an email. Stay tuned for the next in the arthritis series where we will cover some herbs, that can be applied topically, for instant relief. Or if you want it all now, check out my ebook The Arthritis Answer: Your Step by Step Guide to Living Pain Free.