Why Turmeric is Magical


There’s a lot of hype about food being beneficial as a natural source of healing – pomegranate, acai, coconut oil, flax seed, chia seed, spinach. Okay, so all of these things are hype-worthy, but turmeric is on a whole other level of special.

Turmeric is yet another good thing my mom told me about when I was a kid and of course I made fun of her and wrote it off as one of her many old wives’ tales. She’s a quirky person, so it was easy to dismiss her natural healing suggestions. But the reality is, she’s also right about a lot of things. That last sentence was very difficult to write, by the way.

Turmeric for instance. She’s been giving me some strange concoction of warm milk, black pepper and turmeric since I was very young. She’d sprinkle it with just a tiny pinch of sugar to ward off any chance that I’d resist it, and it worked like a charm. I’d drink the brightly colored yellow elixir every time.

I also remember she’d hike up the dosage of the concoction when I wasn’t feeling well. “Drink it,” she’d demand. “This is what we did in India. It will heal you.” That was it. No further explanation. Witchcraft, I’d mumble under my breath. But dang it, she was right. And I didn’t need any explanation because it always worked. My mother was passing down principles of traditional Ayurvedic medicine, which is taught generationally through oral tradition.

So what is this thing called turmeric? Well, it is one of those magnificent spices with versatile benefits, including being a natural antibiotic.  This means it is touted for its infection fighting benefits, according to The University of Maryland Medical Center. And why black pepper? Because it activates curcumin, the compound in turmeric that’s the source of its benefits.

Turmeric also:
Reduces inflammation, preventing a host of diseases
Contains antioxidants, which help fight off cancer
Facilitates digestion

So why do we take medicines like harsh pharmaceutical antibiotics with dreadful side effects? Because they are more readily prescribed and unfortunately we put far more stock in “advanced” medicine than we do in natural medicine. Yet, natural methods have often been proven to stand the test of time. Turmeric for instance, has been used for the past 4,000 years.

Now I’m not suggesting you toss your doctor-prescribed medicine. They too have been proven to be very beneficial in some instances. And although turmeric is natural, too much of a good thing can cause problems. For instance, because it is a blood thinner, turmeric should not be consumed too close to an upcoming surgery. It is also known to help decrease blood sugar but if taken in combination with diabetes medication, it may cause hypoglycemia.

So if you come across information on complementary methods, why not run them by your doctor and have a discussion about how they may work for you? Some questions to ask:
Will turmeric (or other natural method) interact with any of my medications?
What side effects should I look out for?
What dosage should I take?

So all in all, Mom was right and I can no longer tease her, at least not about the magical benefits of turmeric.

More soon on how turmeric can be used in cooking.


How Nutrition is Linked to Depression

img_0354What does it look like? Depression can mean having a hard time getting out of bed, not wanting to talk, even to the people you love the most, feeling like it’s a chore to do things that used to be fun, having trouble concentrating or even remembering. It might sometimes mean having to pretend everything’s just fine.

The musician, Kid Cudi, recently shared that he has suffered from long-standing depression. Although we know success does not equate to feeling joy, some may wonder why someone like him would feel depressed. Unfortunately, depression can have many causes, including difficult life circumstances, medical changes or genetic predisposition. It can be a complicated process to understand, even for the person who is suffering.

I appreciate that Kid Cudi shared about his mental health, because at least for a little while, the media is accurately describing depression for what it is, not a shameful secret, not something that happens to someone else, and especially not a weakness of character, but an illness that may be affecting our colleagues, loved ones and even us. And we don’t have to pretend it isn’t.

There are ways sufferers may naturally manage symptoms or in some cases, even resolve them (under professional medical and psychological care), depending on the source, especially if they may be partly or fully due to nutritional imbalance.

  • One of the most common biological factors involved in depression is unbalanced blood sugar. Even if a person doesn’t have diabetes, fluctuation in blood sugar can affect mood negatively.
  • Chromium deficiency is another nutritional issue that can cause mood issues. It reduces insulin resistance so again, there’s the relationship between blood sugar and mood.
  • Food allergies are found to be related to depression. A food and mood log might help determine which foods are causing problems. To determine a pattern, it might be helpful to continue logging for a couple of months.
  • Omega-3 fats help build connections in the brain, so a deficiency can contribute to  negative mood.

Check out Food for the Brain to read more about natural options for depression. Speak with your primary care physician or psychiatrist, as well as a clinical therapist for appropriate care. An article in The Atlantic  gives some insight into Kid Cudi’s challenges with depression and his decision to receive treatment.