Wondering why Turmeric Latte is trending on Instagram?
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a plant belonging to the ginger family, and is native to South and Southeast Asia. It is a perennial herbaceous plant that reaches up to 1 m (3 ft 3 in) tall. The rhizomes of the plant are harvested annually. These rhizomes are seldom used fresh, and are usually boiled, dried and ground into the powder form that is widely available.
Turmeric has historically been used in India and Asia for thousands of years as a colouring dye and a spice. It is also used as a major medicinal herb in Ayurveda, Siddha medicine, Unani and traditional Chinese medicine.
Historical Usage in the Indian Subcontinent
For most Indians, turmeric is associated with early childhood memories of Grandma’s cooking. Its culinary usage in recipes has been passed down from mother to daughter (traditionally) for millennia. Archaeologists excavating in the Indus Valley Civilization region recently found traces of turmeric and ginger on 50 different surfaces – including pots, stone tools, and the dental enamel of humans and domesticated cows, often fed leftovers.
This dates the first known usage of turmeric, among other spices in Indian cooking, to 2500 BC.
In India, turmeric has long been understood to be a natural cleanser to bring a healthy glow to the skin. It has also been used to heal and prevent dry skin and to treat eczema and acne. As it is also beneficial in slowing down the aging process naturally, it is well suited for treating wrinkles formation.
Brides and pregnant women are traditionally smeared with turmeric paste for a host of benefits to the body and skin. In addition, turmeric has always been used around the house as a nifty first aid cure for small cuts and bruises, due to its strong antiseptic and antibacterial properties.
Turmeric in the modern age has persisted in being of tremendous value, with science continuing to increasingly back up its powerful health benefits and properties. It’s usage ranges from the cosmetics industry and essential oils to functional foods and beverages.
According to nutraceuticalsworld.com, “the strongest growth potential of a naturally functional product for 2017 and beyond lies with turmeric, which — having proven its strength in the dietary supplements aisle — is starting the transition into foods and beverages”.
There have been 580 published human studies on its benefits and an 800% increase in Google searches on turmeric in the period 2014-2016. With its anti-inflammatory properties offsetting the inflammation caused by a drastic increase in sugar intake around the world, it comes as little surprise that the number of products using turmeric as an ingredient doubled in both the U.S. and Europe in the period 2014-2016.
It’s even becoming a buzzword in beauty products: Kiehl’s has launched a turmeric and cranberry seed face mask, while Net-a-Porter sells a turmeric-infused moisturizer for £124. In food and manufacturing, the essential oil of turmeric is used in perfumes, and its resin is used as a flavor and color component in foods.
Curcuma Longa extract is used in the following cosmetic products: facial moisturizers/treatments and cleansers, body wash/cleansers, anti-aging creams, sunscreens, around-eye creams; shampoos; sunless tanning oils and baby soaps.
Why Turmeric as an Extract
So it’s not a question of debate anymore if turmeric has benefits; if anything, the full extent of its beneficial qualities are still being discovered. So why bother with turmeric extracts? Why not just start incorporating turmeric in everyday cooking or consume it in the form of turmeric milk or other beverages?
The reason for this is that most of the studies on this herb are using turmeric extracts that contain mostly curcumin (the main active ingredient in turmeric), with dosages usually exceeding 1 gram per day. It would be very difficult to reach these levels by just using the turmeric spice in your foods, as the curcumin content of turmeric is not that high; usually around 3%, by weight. Therefore, if you want to experience the full effects, then you need to take an extract that contains significant amounts of curcumin.
Curcumin also has poor bio-availability, meaning your body doesn’t easily absorb it. Research indicates adding a little fat (like olive or coconut oil) and black pepper could slow down how fast you metabolize it and enhance absorption. The compound, piperine, found in black pepper can enhance absorption of curcumin by 2000%.
With at least 20 molecules that are antibiotic, 14 that are known cancer preventatives, 12 that are anti-tumor, 12 that are anti-inflammatory and at least 10 different antioxidants as well as health-promoting vitamins, phenols and other alkaloids, turmeric essential oil is a highly potent form of the compound that has a plethora of benefits for the human body.
Turmeric extract is rich in natural plant antioxidants that are beneficial to the skin by helping to reduce the visible signs of aging. It helps maintain a smooth, balanced and enlivened complexion by protecting the skin from the damage caused by free radicals.
Turmeric Milk – A Simple Recipe
So why should you cultivate the regular habit of drinking turmeric milk before going to bed? Having milk at night is immensely beneficial for health and it induces good sleep. When combined with turmeric, it also acts as an anti-ageing tonic. It also helps with any physical trauma sustained during the day, joint and bone issues including arthritis and helps keep inflammation in check while fighting infections and allergies.
A simple recipe for Turmeric Milk is as follows:
Heat milk in a small saucepan over a medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes; stir honey and vanilla extract into the milk until they are completely dissolved. Whisk 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder into the milk mixture. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the flavors blend for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the mixture through a strainer and drink up!
The best way to maintain your daily turmeric intake is to include turmeric in food and beverage recipes and supplement it with curcumin extracts or essential oils. However, it’s important to pay close attention to the quality of the supplements and ensure that the sourcing and processing of the supplements meet international safety standards.
It can be concluded that turmeric as a superfood will be a safe bet for the future, and one that is increasingly backed by science. At Tru Herb, we understand the value that turmeric provides and take the most stringent measures to ensure the finest quality sourcing of turmeric, free of adulterants and impurities. If you haven’t started using turmeric ingredients in your products already, we highly recommend that you do.