Turmeric: Nature’s Antidote for Inflammation (and ways to incorporate it into your diet!)
Posted Jan 21 2014 6:17pm
Turmeric is a miracle. I knew this conceptually before, but my husband (Dave) and I just confirmed it.
15 years ago, Dave was at a party, and while hanging out on the deck of the second story of the house, he leaned on the railing. The railing detatched, and both he and the railing fell to the ground. Dave was unconscious and taken to the hospital, and was told later that the only reason he didn’t break his neck was because he was not sober and didn’t resist the fall (he wasn’t wasted, just had a couple drinks). Since that time, he’s had ongoing issues with his neck. A bulging disc, inflammation, nerve pain, and more. Even before he met me, he wasn’t a fan of taking strong medications, but sometimes he felt he had to in order to relieve some of the pain. When his neck “flared up” he could be incapacitated for up to three weeks or so before the inflammation would go down enough for the nerve to stop being pinched. His normal routine for a flare-up (besides shouting out in pain when he moved his neck) was to immobilize himself on the couch, take muscle relaxants and Tylenol (he’s allergic to ibuprofen), and drink whiskey and eat ice cream (out of pity for himself). He’s seen doctors, neurologists, physical therapists, and more. They don’t want to operate and don’t have any preventative answers for him–they do freely push drugs on him though.
Fast forward to him dating me and warning me about what happens when his neck “goes out.”
When I first heard about Dave’s neck issues, my mind went immediately to how we could prevent and/or address it with lifestyle. I suggested yoga, which he tried and liked, but didn’t stick to for scheduling reasons. I talked about anti-inflammatory diets, and he listened and began taking my advice most of the time (he quit drinking Coke, stopped eating out so much for lunch, and cut down on his sugar/white flour intake). He will try anything I cook, and is nice about how it tastes even when it’s a flop (luckily that doesn’t happen too often!). He drinks my green juice every morning, and within a couple months went from having apple in it to make it taste good to having just celery, cucumber, and lettuce in it everyday (and he likes it!).
That brings us to a week ago. Dave had started going to the gym regularly, and after a couple weeks, had a sore back. The next morning, he got out of bed and his neck “went out.” I took him to the doctor, who prescribed him drugs that he’s not going to take. I ordered this to help relieve some muscle tension in the area, and I massaged arnica into the area a couple times too. Nothing seemed to help. On the fourth day, I added an entire chunk (the size of my pinky but a little fatter) of turmeric to our morning juice. It tasted a bit stronger than usual, but wasn’t bad at all and didn’t change the color (it was still dark green).
A couple hours later, Dave told me that his neck was feeling much better, like 90% better.
We added the turmeric to our juice again the next day.
And the next. From work that day, he texted me and said his neck was 100% better. It has been four days since then, and he has not had even one twinge of pain.
Last week, Dave couldn’t attend our birthing class with me because he couldn’t move, and this week when he showed up and was discussing his assessment of turmeric’s role in his quick recovery, our instructor told him that in the Persian culture, they put turmeric on everything—and that she’s convinced her 100 year-old in-laws are still so healthy (and alive!) because of how much turmeric they eat.
I’m not saying that a person should consume turmeric instead of getting medical care.
But Dave is convinced that the things that made his neck flare up disappear were:
1. Instead of eating ice cream and drinking whiskey (inflammatory foods), he drank veggie juice and ate healthy real food
I agree with him. Turmeric is highly anti-inflammatory (maybe not as anti-inflammatory as cloves, but cloves are so much stronger tasting that turmeric feels more practical to us to consume in larger amounts everyday).
So, how does turmeric help with inflammation and joint pain?
Turmeric contains curcumin. Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory. It works much the same way as hydrocortisone or ibuprofen, but it doesn’t have any toxic side effects.
Turmeric contains a very high level of antioxidants. This may actually be a longer-term benefit for Dave’s neck rather than an immediate fix. Antioxidants help remove free radicals from the body, and free radicals cause swelling in the joints. Therefore, if you drastically increase antioxidant intake (i.e. via turmeric), you can also dramatically decrease joint inflammation and pain.
How can you add it to your diet?
This is a good question. You can buy the organic powdered form of turmeric, and add it to foods and recipes (it’s really good sprinkled on eggs and in stir fry!). The reason it’s important to buy spices in their organic format is because non-organic spices have generally been irradiated and/or processed more, and this reduces the effects of the herb or spice.
You can also buy the turmeric root (seen in the picture). Try to buy organic turmeric if you can! You can grate, chop, slice, or mince the root and add it to foods! You can also juice it.
If you want to learn more about the amazing benefits of turmeric, please visit this post by The Homestead Garden .
Check out some of my favorite posts and recipes involving turmeric.