I’m not one for fad supplements. I don’t believe that there are any miracles cures beyond listening to your body and caring for it against the subtle imbalances we feel. But I can’t say enough about the amazing properties of Turmeric (aka Curcumin).
This yellow spice, best known for its presence in curry, is a bit of a super herb. It is an excellent anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, and anti-carcinogen. Renowned Ayurvedic doctor, Dr. Vasant Lad, once said during a lecture that Turmeric is one of the best things to take to prevent cancer (among other lifestyle practices, obviously). What is even more wonderful is the fact that Turmeric is tridoshic, so it combats imbalance all around for all doshas. I wonder if Tumeric ever gets tired because, damn, it fights a lot of things!
For skin, it helps with so many aggravations: acne, rashes, psoriasis, and eczema. This is because Turmeric reduces inflammation as well as purifies the blood system (which feeds and circulates through the skin tissues). For wet, infected eczema, I have often recommended just sprinkling powder onto the affected area to dry it out and disinfect, while still having a soothing action on the skin.
I personally started taking Turmeric capsules after meals because it reduces inflammation—I found that this greatly aided my digestion. I felt that it prevented bloating, as well (hooray!). I also found that since taking it my menstrual cramps were much less severe. I am assuming this is due to the Pitta pacification. As a high Pitta woman, the movement of blood and the shift of hormones heighten Pitta symptoms. Those of us with these issues also can get nausea, headaches, or dehydration symptoms during our periods because of Pitta rising. (Also, alcohol is high in Pitta/heating qualities, which is why hangovers have the same after-effects.)
Recently, I recommended taking Turmeric to my mother as a supportive supplement. We like opting for whole foods and herbs as opposed to extracts or derivatives, so I thought this would really resonate with her. She is now addicted, like me, to taking it after meals and says it helps with bowel elimination too.
I will say that capsules are not as good as eating it in its food-like form (though very handy). It is best to take Turmeric by sprinkling it on your food or incorporating it into the cooking of your meal so you can actually experience the taste of it. According to Ayurveda, taste is a powerful part of balancing when taking a remedy. Because Vatas are balanced by foods which are salty, sweet, spicy and sour, and Pittas are balanced by foods which are sweet, astringent and bitter, while Kaphas are balanced by foods which are spicy, bitter and astringent, flavor plays a crucial role in doshic pacification. Note: for those of you who don’t know, “astringent” is, it is described as a taste that peels the tongue. It is not bitter, it is not sour but like a astringent cabbage-like taste – I like to use the example of asparagus.
But, be careful when using Turmeric in the kitchen, because it stains everything yellow. Actually, I once had a spa treatment in New York where they rubbed me down with Turmeric to give my skin a golden tanned glow (without icky chemical self-tan ingredients).
So, if you are feeling like you need some internal support, especially during these hot humid summer days, try making over your diet with a little Turmeric. A dash here or there can help you strengthen and ground, while the ever-convenient Turmeric capsules can really help harmonize Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Kristen Ma is the co-owner of Pure + Simple Inc., a group of Holistic Spas with its own line of Natural Skincare and Mineral Make-up. She is an Ayurvedic Practitioner who has studied in Canada, the United States and India. She is also a Certified Esthetician with eight years of practical experience, having worked in Canada as well as Australia. Most recently, Kristen has authored “Beauty: Pure + Simple” which was published by Mc Arthur and Company. Kristen has written on the subject of Holistic Beauty for Vitality Magazine, Blink and Jasmine. She is also a regular contributor to B Magazine, Tonic and Sweat Equity Magazine. She blogs regularly at Holistic Vanity.