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Some Experiences with Natural Medicine
and related observations
Turmeric features prominently in Eastern medicine and cuisine and is also used in Western herbals and the food industry.
Types of turmeric
dried powder - also available as capsules
curcumin, extracted from the herb - is not as effective as the whole herb for colorectal cancer.
It shares many of the properties of ginger. Dr Weil says that neither curcumin nor turmeric taken orally is well absorbed unless taken with black pepper or piperine, a constituent of black pepper responsible for its pungency. It is best eaten with food and in small doses through the day although no adverse effects have been reported to even 10 gms per day for a few weeks. Turmeric in food is safe but avoid any food in excess.
The Linus Pauling Institute is an excellent source of information on turmeric and curcumin.
Summary of clinical evidence at : http://examine.com/supplements/Curcumin/
Good for Bad for or during For symptoms associated with cold, weak digestion and/or toxicity :
- arthritis - because it is anti-inflammatory
- asthma - see comment by Benoit
- atherosclerosis - reduces cholesterol
- Anti cancer - not proven but it is known to be a powerful antioxidant. http://www.integrativeoncology-essentials.com/2013/03/is-there-any-other-anti-cancer-botanical-compound-as-exciting-as-curcumin/
- dyspepsia and gastritis - its anti-inflammatory effect on the mucus membranes is noticeable.
- germicide, fungicide - so widely used in cooking, esp. curries. Anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal
- liver tonic - stimulates bile production. Useful for jaundice.
- muscle spasm - clinical evidence and personal experience )see below).
- osteoarthritis - see above page on clinical evidence.
- skin (mix with coconut/margosa oil and apply)
- sore throat (see gastritis)
- ulcerative colitis
- Alzheimer's disease - see resources http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cricopharyngeal_spasm
- Enhances vitamin D synthesis by the body.
- arthritis - no evidence?
- ringworm/vitiligo - did not work for me
- blood thinner - so avoid if undergoing surgery
- if on cancer treatments - e.g. said to interfere with chemotherapy - but clinical studies suggest that it works well with two chemo drugs.
- cholesterol - do not take medicinal dosages if on statins
- diabetes - lowers blood sugar; can cause hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)
- interferes with blood thinning medication
- gall stones - since it stimulates bile production, which may lead to stones getting stuck in ducts.
- kidney stones - interferes with formation of oxalates? See resources
- pregnancy - dont take turmeric (or any other) supplement without consulting doctor. Sairam says it is an antifertility herb.
- stomach ulcers (see UMM site)
- surgery - thins blood, so stop taking two weeks before surgery
Turmeric with bright orangy yellow colour is associated with the sun god, and the solar and sacral chakras. In traditional Tamil Siddha medicine, the solar plexus is the energy centre relating to the metabolic and digestive systems. Orange is the colour of the sacral chakra linked to the reproductive system http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turmeric
My earliest recollection of the medicinal use of turmeric was in the South East Asia. My dog was badly bitten in a dog fight with wounds in the haunches, where he could not lick and clean himself. Blue bottles (lavatory flies) laid their eggs under the skin and before long there were maggots feasting on his wound. My father got a vaidya (native Indian healer) who boiled turmeric and camphor in neem (margosa) oil. They poured this while it was still hot into the wound without even bothering to take out the maggots or clean the wound. The dog howled in agony but because he was such a good dog, he did not bite my father who was holding his head. Well, the dog recovered in a few days. My father did keep dabbing the wound with a cloth dipped in the oil.
In 2005, an Indian lady boiled a spiced milk drink for my flu, cold and catarrh. I was given this for thick yellow catarrh, which in my view was an allergic reaction to recycled cabin air in aeroplane, This spiced drink did not help.
Indian ladies used to wash their faces with manjal (turmeric) paste since it was said to be good for the skin. However, the scars left by them pinching black spots did not clear and they did not have the wonderful skin that Indian herbalists claim.
I had a bad bout of gastritis which lasted for months. Once I started to use carminative herbs and spices, the condition improved rapidly. But, I still felt there was a lump above my voice box when I swallowed although nothing showed up on a sonar scan. A barium meal revealed a spasm in a throat muscle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cricopharyngeal_spasm). Home-made ginger/turmeric/honey pills relaxed the muscle in 4 days although the throat remained tender for quite a long time. Periodic use of the pills (recipe below) helped to resolve the problem completely (see gastritis).
Work 1/2 tsp each of ginger and turmeric powder into a pill with about 1/3 tsp of honey. Place the pill on the tongue when you go to sleep. As the honey starts to run with the body heat, it will coat the tonsils, throat and gullet and bring rapid relief. You can repeat this during the day. These remedies are now widely used by our friends. Studies have shown that these roots work better in combination than individually for wound healing (See http://examine.com/supplements/Curcumin/.
For Alzheimer's, cancer and other diseases - also gives warnings
Warns against oxalate kidney stones.
http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/turmeric - notes interactions with medicines
© Mahes Visvalingam, 10 Jan 2012
Last updated on 17/02/14