Turmeric is a powdery, bright yellow spice, initially made from a root plant found in the ginger family. It has a very bitter taste but a vibrant yellow-orange colour. Turmeric originates from India and China has been used for many, many years as a culinary spice, food preservative, herbal remedy and a colouring agent.
Although it is mostly used in curries, don’t be afraid to use it for medicinal and beauty purposes as well. Studies have now found turmeric to have powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, which help to combat various health problems. It is so commonly used that it has been nicknamed the aspirin of India and is found in every Indian family’s first aid kit.
Nutritionally, turmeric is rich in fibre, iron, potassium, manganese and vitamin B6. However, the main ingredient that causes its beneficial properties is curcumin, which has been found to be a great immunity booster. It is also used in various drugs and medicines, so we know that it helps the body against some illnesses:
• Asthma and peptic ulcers by protecting the gastrointestinal lining:
Mix 1 tsp of turmeric powder in a cup of warm milk and drink three times a day.
• Sore throats:
Mix ½ tsp of turmeric and ½ tsp of salt in a glass of warm water and gargle.
• Wounds and cuts:
Turmeric is also a great antiseptic – simply apply directly on wounds and cuts to stop blood flow and reduce the risk of infection.
Turmeric is not only best used as a healing agent but for many beauty treatments too. For many generations, women in South Asia have used turmeric in their daily skincare regimes. Due to the bright yellow pigment and its powerful chemical properties, turmeric is used in some facials and skincare products. It helps to clear up blemishes, acne, dark spots and hyperpigmentation, as well as brightening up the skin to give it a healthy glow. Simply mix equal portions of turmeric and gram flour, make a paste with water or milk and apply to the face or body. Leave for 10-15 minutes and wash off with warm water.
To treat oily skin, mix turmeric with sandalwood and orange juice. Apply to the face, wait for it to dry and wash off with warm water. Your skin will be left looking cleansed and dewy.
For some women, facial hair can be a real battle; we are always trying to find new ways to remove those unwanted hairs. Now you can try to reduce its growth with turmeric. Make a paste with water and apply to the face either every day or on alternate days to see the difference.
So, when you have a cut or need a refreshing facial, try out the bright yellow powder which doesn’t need to be restricted to your cooking, but can be used for your health and beauty too.
Ayshabibi Hafesji ANutr, qualified associate nutritionist, self-employed working from home, helping women and children to find a healthy and happy balance in their lifestyle. www.ahnutritionist.co.uk