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According to Wikipedia, turmeric is a “rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae”.  That’s right, one small plant name with a whole string of botanical aliases!

So, what does the botanical description of turmeric mean?  Well, according to the above, it is rhizomatous, which means that the plant has stocks that grow underground as well as above ground.  The term herbaceous simply means that the plant is an herb and that it does not have “woody” or hard stems above ground.  Yawn …

As for the ginger family name, well, let’s just say if you marry into that family, your credit cards will look ridiculous!  It also explains, though, why turmeric looks very much like ginger except with a brilliantly rich, yellow/orange colour on the inside.

The brilliant, rich colour is due to a compound contained in turmeric called curcumin.  There’s curcumin in ginger too, just not as much, so the colour is less evident.  In fact, turmeric is used as a dye, food colouring and in cosmetics because the colour is so vibrant.

Here’s where it gets exciting though.  Curcumin isn’t just another pretty face.  Here’s a shortlist of the benefits it can provide:

  • it’s an antioxidant
  • it’s an anti-inflammatory
  • it can improve brain function
  • it is beneficial in reducing the risk of heart disease
  • it is useful in treating depression
  • it can help with the pain and inflammation of arthritis
  • it can help improve skin tones and treat other skin conditions

That’s a pretty impressive list and these claims are backed up by several studies (this might just turn this post into a sleep aid!,  but the proof is definitely here!)

But how can you incorporate turmeric into your diet?  Of course, it is sold in capsules, but it can be used in many more creative ways too including, soups, teas, soaps, and even as a tooth whitener.  Katie of Wellness Mama offers some really great ways to incorporate turmeric into our daily lives:  Turmeric: 12 Practical Uses (& Benefits of Curcumin).

And, here’s a really interesting one from Dr. Axe, Turmeric Latte!

Another thing to note is that turmeric is more effective when combined with black pepper.  It is believed that turmeric on its own is metabolized by the body quickly and before any benefits are received, and studies have shown that consuming black pepper with turmeric increases the concentration in the bloodstream by 2000%.

Of course, like all good things, we have to approach with a bit of caution, and it is important to note that turmeric can interact with some medications including:

  • blood thinners;
  • aspirin;
  • some ulcer medications;
  • antidepressants; and
  • diabetes medications.

and, this is not a full list.

Here’s some other interesting facts about Tumeric just for fun:

  • it’s a natural anti-venin (or anti-venom) for king cobra bites
  • a paste made of turmeric rubbed into the skin can rid you of excess body hair
  • in India, turmeric is known as the golden spice for … well … obvious reasons
  • turmeric is added to prepared mustard, not to add flavour, but to enhance the colour
  • if you add a tablespoon of turmeric to a leaking radiator, it will stop the leak

Hmmm … not sure about that last one, but overall the benefits of turmeric are more than worth a try!