Turmeric – A Golden Ray Of Sunshine Goodness

‘Turmeric’, ‘Curcuma’, ‘Kurkuma’, ‘the golden spice’, ‘the yellow gold’ and ‘golden goddess’ to name but few. This super spice has many names, and just as many, if not more, excuberant healing powers.

Mainly used in Indian cuisine, hailed for its flavour in traditional currys, soups and stews, and due to its amazing deep yellow tone for its great colouring abilities (careful of those food stains); turmeric is but not just a simple spice. Turmeric is a POWERHOUSE, a power-plant with amazing healing and anti-inflammatory abilities, and is one of the most powerful herbs on the planet today to help us humans shield from inflammation, prevent disease, and to keep our bodies strong and healthy.

Curcuma Longa’ which is the Latin name for turmeric, comes from the Arabic name for the plant, ‘Kurkum’ and is a member of the ginger family (Zingiberacea), which includes ginger and galangal.

Turmeric is actually a beautiful tall growing green and flowering plant. The part that is used in cooking as a spice and for supplementation in natural medicine are the fingerlike stalks (Rhizome) that grow beneath
the earth’s surface. Looking similar to the ginger root, when you cut open a turmeric root, you’ll see its blooming yellow, almost orange colour coming out.

If you haven’t cooked with turmeric yet, you might have come across turmeric through the ‘Turmeric (‘Curcuma’) Latte’ trend that has kind of exploded over the past 2 years. Also referred to as ‘Golden Milk‘, plant or animal milk is heatet and then mixed with turmeric powder, honey and other spices such as cardamom and black pepper. Apart from its nourishing and calming taste, a ‘Turmeric Latte’ doesn’t only just taste good, it has many healing benefits for you and your body.

Turmeric has been used as a plant medicine and a healing herb in traditional philosophies such as Ayuveda for over more than 3000 years. Ancient scripts that were written thousand of years ago already talk about the healing power of the golden goddess:

  • ‘Jvaraghna’: relieves fever.
  • ‘Viṣaghna’: destroys toxins and poisons.
  • Kusthagna’: eliminates skin diseases
  • ‘Kaṇḍughna’: anti-itching
  • ‘Vedanāsthāpana’: soothes pain
  • ‘Raktasodhana’: blood purifying
  • ‘Prameha’: helps with diabetes
  • ‘Sirovirecana’: eliminates congestion in the head area
  • and many, many more…

Today modern science has proven turmeric effective through countless studies,
and can confirm what ancient traditions already knew to be the truth for centuries:

Turmeric has proven very effective in treating some of the most intense illnesses that we experience in the world today such as: Cancer, Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, Atherosclerosis, Indigestion, Inflammation, Acne, Urinary Tract Infections, Kidney Infections, Gallstones, Anemia, Hemorrhoids, Liver Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, HIV/AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (Hepatitis-C, Genital Herpes) , Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Edema, Bronchitis, Common Cold, Headaches, parasites, diarrhea, poor circulation, lower back and abdominal pain. It can also be used as wound healer, and it helps balance the female reproductive system. In men it purifies and improves the health of semen.

The reason for turmeric being able to treat so many different diseases lies in its incredible anti-inflammatory capacity:
Anti-inflammatory means in a very literal sense, for example, to reduce swelling. Say you have been in an accident and sprained your ankle. Chances are high that you’ll experience a swelling of some sort, maybe some redness, tender pain on touching and a warm sensation in the area of the injury. This is simply a natural reaction of your body to induce healing: a natural state of inflammation to induce a healing response. Inflammation can also occur on the insides of our bodies, where we can’t see it, and more often than not, don’t even feel it.

Imagine little tiny construction sites that you’re body is working on constantly at all times to keep you healthy. This is totally normal and happens all the time without us noticing. Inflammation is really a natural process in which enzymes, prostaglandines and other inflammatory proteins (Cox-2, NF-kB, Lox-5, to name but a few) up and down regulate inflammation as part of the inflammatory response pathway. Modern day living however, mainly trough oxidative stress, can cause the inflammation response to ‘get out of control’:

When inflammation becomes a problem:
Our bodies are bombarded constantly with environmental poisons, toxic foods, stress and so forth: too many coffees, pesticides, rushing to work, an argument with the boss, drinking alcohol at night. Holding tension day in and day out, without giving our body the rest it deserves. And suddenly we find ourselves in a downward spiral of uncontrollable digestive issues, auto-immune-diseases or cancer. Scientists now believe that chronic, low-level inflammation plays a major role in almost every chronic, western disease. We have come under so much stress that the standard inflammation pathway can literally not regulate itself anymore efficiently.

Turmeric is hailed as one of the best natural anti-inflammatories in the world today:
Countless studies have shown that turmeric helps to immensily improve the inflammation responses in our bodies, helping us heal quicker from illness and improving the time-span from when inflammation first occurs to its natural conclusion. Thus swellings reduce faster, wounds heal quicker and infections can ease off sooner.

The active compounds in turmeric, one of them being called curcumin, are strongly anti-inflammatory.
In fact, they’re so powerful that it matches the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs, without the side effects. It blocks NF-kB, a molecule that travels into the nuclei of your cells and turns on genes related to inflammation. NF-kB is believed to play a major role in many chronic diseases.

Furthermore, turmeric and its active compounds dramatically increase the anti-oxidant capacity of the cells in our bodies:
Curcumin is a potent antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals due to its chemical structure. It has also been shown to increase the production of Nrf2, a multi-organ protector that helps our bodies fight ROS (reactive oxygen species). Thus curcumin boosts the activity of your body’s own antioxidant enzymes.

In summary, turmeric and its compounds such as curcumin, have powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant capacities. With oxidative stress and chronic inflammation being the major causes for modern day health problems, turmeric can be instrumental in helping to fight aging and in preventing degenerative disease.

Read Next:
Turmeric’s therapeutic effects:
standard spice vs. turmeric supplementation

Recipes Featuring Turmeric:


Curcumin upregulates the Nrf2 system by repressing inflammatory signaling-mediated Keap1 expression in insulin-resistant conditions.

Role of Nrf2 in Oxidative Stress and Toxicity

Curcumin Activates the Nrf2 Pathway and Induces Cellular Protection Against Oxidative Injury.

Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent of Curcuma longa: a review of preclinical and clinical research

Cleansing and Calming Cardamom

Have you ever tried this wonderful green powder, referred to in Ayurveda as ‘the queen of spices‘?
Well if you already have, thumbs up, and if you haven’t read on about the amazing health benefits of cardamom, and hopefully it’ll inspire you to buy some next time you walk past your spice isle.

I dare you adding a teaspoon of yummy cardamom into your morning coffee (I recommend adding a bit of cinnamom too)!
Or try it on sweet stewed fruit (apples, pears, bananas), in baking (cardamom cookie recipe here), or in savoury dishes such as curries.

There are actually two types of cardamom: the one most commonly known and used here in the West are the green pods, but there’s also black cardamom.

Green and black cardamom are actually from the same plant family. Green cardamom is harvested before it reaches maturity and the pods are often used whole. Black cardamom is dried for longer and the seeds are extracted. 

Green cardamom is more often used to flavour sweet dishes and black cardamom is used for a more pungent flavour in savoury dishes.

Although used in the West, cardamom is mainly used in India & Middle Eastern cusines in desserts, tea and coffee for its sweet flavour. People from India often chew on the pods after a meal for its breath freshening properties!

  • Cardamom can clear toxin built up (called Ama in Ayurveda) from the body:
    Toxins can block internal circulation and reduce energy levels, which can cause illness and disease. Cardamom’s warming and detoxifying effects aid in reducing the accumulation of these toxins, and guide them gently out of the body. This is called a diuretic effect (helps the body elimate waste through the kidneys).

  • Cardamom has a very high antioxidant capacity:
    studies have shown that cardamom protects cells from free radical damage that can cause inflammation & premature aging.

  • Supports respiratory health:
    Cardamom can soothe coughs and colds by lubricating the respiratory pathways (drink that warming chai tea when you have a cold!)

  • Aids digestion. Reduces indigestion, gas and bloating:
    Many studies have shown its great benefits in reducing stomach ulcers by stimulating the secretion of digestive enzymes. Great to drink in a tea (or chew on the seeds) after a meal. It makes heavy and acidic foods much easier to digest. In middle eastern societies coffee is often brewed with some cardamom to offset the negative effects of the acidic coffee (and increases flavours).Try it out! Cardamom also supports healthy cholesterol & tryglyceride levels as well as helping the body to burn fat more effectively.

  • Antibacterial & antimicrobial:
    The essential oils found in cardamom have shown to support good oral health. They fight bad breath and aid in healing mouth ulcers. Furthermore studies have shown that cardamom extracts are very effective against bacterial infections such as strepptococus mutans and candida albicans (a common yeast infection that can cause numerous digestive issues and leaky gut).

  • Supports kidney & bladder health:
    Due to its diuretic effect, cardamom supports cleansing toxins from the urinary tract, kidneys and bladder.

  • Supports healthy blood glucose levels:
    Cardamom is a rich source of manganese, which can play a role in managing blood sugar levels.

  • Gives a good night sleep:
    having trouble sleeping? Try adding half a teaspoon of cardamom to a mug of warm plant milk and maybe some honey before bed-time. Warm milk with cardamom has been shown to support a more restful night sleep.

  • Cancer fighting compounds:
    Many studies have shown that cardamom can increase the activity of enzymes that help to fight certain cancers. Furthermore, it has been found that the body’s natural ability to attack tumours was increased. An interesting study: Researchers exposed 2 groups of mice to a compound that causes skin cancer and fed one group a diet that also consisted of 500mg cardamom per day. 29% of the cardamom group and a whopping 90% of the control group (no cardamom) developed skin cancer!

  • Anti-inflammatory:
    High in antioxidants, cardamom protects cells from damage & stops inflammation from occuring.

  • Anti-anxiety:
    the calming effects of cardamom still haven’t been officially studied, but many ancient traditions such as Ayurvda swear that cardamom has very calmig effects on the nervous system and can therefor be a great healing addition for someone who suffers from depression.

Cooking with cardamom:
Ground cardamom is probably the most used and sugested in recipes: add powdered cardamom directly to recipes that call for cardamom. However, to really get the most cardamom flavour, your best off using cardamom pods.

Simply get some cardamom pods (as in the picture above), and simply open the pods with a small sharp knife and remove the small black seeds.

You can then grind the seeds in a pestle and mortar for best results, or you can use a motorized spice grinder (a coffee grinder works really well).

Hot tipp: toast the green cardamom pods over a dry killet for a few minutes to bring out the flavour, then remove the seeds after.

If adding cardamom seeds to your coffee or other hot drinks, simply grind three to four cardamom seeds and add to a drink of your choice. Alternatively, simply use ground cardamom, between 1/4 tsp and up to a full teaspoon (adjust to your taste!)


In Ayurveda, herbs and spices are classified by their qualities, tastes and actions that they have on the body and the mind.


Tri-doshic. Balances Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Although cardamom is considered tri-doshic (balancing for all 3 doshas) , those with a Pitta imbalance should use it slightly more sparingly as it can also be heating in quality
(i.e. warms up the body which can be too much for a very strong Pitta person).




Mobile, light, clear, dry, warming.