is a plant stepping on to the world stage as an anti inflammatory boss. The plant is primarily used in India and other parts of Asia for may conditions including breathing issues, pain, fatigue and rheumatism. The spice is a staple of curry and it’s distinctive yellow, lends color to foods like mustard and cosmetics (and to the fingertips of anyone who grates it!). The root portion of the plant is dried and made into capsules, teas, extracts and pastes.
I learned a bit about the active compound in tumeric, curcumin, in a “food as medicine” type course and was intrigued. Initial studies find that curcuminoids may reduce heart attacks post bypass surgery, control knee pain from osteoarthritis equally as well as ibuprofen, and reduce skin inflammation associated with certain radiation treatments.
As the body of research develops, we hope that these claims are well supported. However, I like be able to say, if the claims are not well supported then all we have done is add flavor to our food. Other research is investigating the possibility of curcumin helping to impact diabetes, surgical pain, a reduction of tooth plaque, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and prostate and colon cancers.
Last year, I had developed an overuse injury in my shoulder while training for a big race, and needed all anti-inflammatory hands on deck. I am not a big fan of over the counter products or steroid injections, so I continued my steady intake of omega 3 fatty acids (another great anti-inflammatory) and started drinking tumeric tea. I found that i was going through quite a few boxes per week, so I bought some root at the local market. I began making the tea daily and tweaking the ingredients to taste. Turns out, we need pepperin from black pepper to release the curcumin from the tumeric. Adding a few twists of the pepper mill may sound ridiculous, but you experience an enjoyable, gentle bit of heat and spice with the tea. I tossed in some cinnamon stick and created a delicious tea that i try to leave on the counter for all to enjoy.
1” grated numeric root
1/2 cinnamon stick
3-4 twists of milled black pepper
Pour hot water over the ingredients and allow to steep for 3-4 minutes. Strain and enjoy!