You may know about turmeric (Curcuma longa) as a spice that is used in condiments, curries, and as a food coloring. But did you know that turmeric can be used medicinally? In fact, it has a wide reputation for being an excellent anti-inflammatory. The great thing about turmeric is that it doesn’t appear to have any particular body system affinity when it comes to its anti-inflammatory actions. I’ve used it to allay pain in my foot, due to my much written about plantar fasciitis issue, and I’ve used it to alleviate painful inflammation in my shoulder, due to a rotator cuff tear. It’s even been effective for knee osteoarthritis pain after I overworked it during a bootcamp class that I had no business taking. I’ve also recommended it to a co-worker when she suffered pain in her leg from foot drop; she was very grateful. The best thing about turmeric is that, when taken in a medicinal dose, it works pretty quickly. I usually notice either a massive dulling of the pain or a total absence of the pain within 15 minutes.
So maybe you already know all of this. If so, wonderful. Here’s something you may not be aware of – to get the most benefit from turmeric, it should be taken with food that has some sort of fat content. The reason being that the most active anti-inflammation constituents in turmeric are lipid-soluble (vs. water-soluble). By taking the turmeric with fat, these constituents are able to dissolve into molecules that are small enough to be delivered into your body’s cells, and are thus more effective in relieving the inflammation. You may have heard of the term bioavailability, which is a measure of the amount of a substance that actually enters the circulation so that an active effect can be observed. Taking turmeric with fat increases its bioavailability to your cells.
So now the thing I don’t like about turmeric. Turmeric is yummy in curries and mustards but quite frankly, I don’t make or eat many foods with these two ingredients and when I do, I’m not sure I’m actually getting a medicinal dose.
How to Get a Medicinal Dose of Turmeric?
To answer that, first, let’s define what a medicinal dose of turmeric is – most compendia seem to agree on 1 teaspoon per serving. Because there are no known contraindications for turmeric, there hasn’t been a maximum dosage established. Turmeric has a pungent and acrid taste that isn’t fitting for any and every dish, so you’ll have to be inventive when it comes to getting in that 1 teaspoon – or you can just take it in pill form. But if you want to find ways to incorporate it into your food, visit the recipes section of this site for some ideas. One of my favorites is the Mango Peach Smoothie… that’s right, with a medicinal dose of turmeric!
Have you used turmeric? If so, how do you use it?