I recently wrote of how my year and a half of doing Raja Yoga has made significant changes in my life, not the least of which has been in my physical body. Without making any other changes in my eating habits or my diet I’ve lost weight, I’ve gained muscle and become stronger and more flexible, and best of all, the chronic back pain I’ve had since I was bucked off a horse at age 19 is gone (I am now 53).
For the last several months, though, I have had a pain in my elbow that massage and heat and specific yoga moves could not seem to cure. So one night on the Internet, my husband comes across a growing body of research into the health benefits of turmeric, a spice grown and used around the world for thousands of years. If you’ve ever had a curry or Indian spiced food, you’ve probably had turmeric, which sort of tastes like a mild form of cumin. It’s very yellow in color and is sometimes used to color (as well as flavor) rice or potatoes.
Greenmedinfo.com, after reviewing thousands of studies of turmeric and its primary component, curcumin, lists these properties and possible health benefits:
- Destroying Multi-Drug Resistant Cancer
- Destroying Cancer Stem Cells (arguably, the root of all cancer)
- Protecting Against Radiation-Induced Damage
- Reducing Unhealthy Levels of Inflammation
- Protecting Against Heavy Metal Toxicity
- Preventing and Reversing Alzheimer’s Disease Associated Pathologies
Since the pain in my elbow seemed to be inflammation-related, we decided to use that can of turmeric in the spice cabinet, the one that had been sitting in there, unused, for a very long time. How long? Well, it’s one of those little French’s tins with its price stamped into the metal on the bottom of the tin: 69 cents for one and a half ounces. I just bought a fresh bottle of the McCormick brand: 2 ounces for almost $5. That’s how old.
Anyhow, after doing a little research of my own on how turmeric is used and what kinds of dishes to use it in (besides curry), I began putting it in all kinds of dishes. I make a Mexican omelet about once a week: two eggs beaten with lemon pepper seasoning, garlic powder, cumin and oregano, pour into a hot oiled cast-iron skillet till set, add cheddar cheese and salsa on one side of the omelet, flip the other side on top of the filling, serve. There was already cumin in this so I thought, turmeric will work too, and it did, and tasted so good that I began adding it to our scrambled eggs as well.
Next up was an Indian Curry made with okra, tomatoes and peppers, with extra turmeric added, served over rice, flavored and colored with even more turmeric. Add olive oil to a hot cast-iron skillet, saute the okra and peppers, turn down the heat and add chopped tomatoes, simmer it all with curry spice, garlic, and, of course, the turmeric. You can actually make this with all kinds of veggies, like eggplants, zucchini, green beans…add some veg stock for added sauce and pour it over the rice to let the rice soak up all that goodness.
And then this variation of Green Tomato Rice: prepare white rice, I make mine in a rice cooker. As it cooks, saute chopped green tomatoes, onions, peppers and garlic until soft. Season with turmeric, thyme, lemon pepper seasoning, salt and pepper to taste. Combine the rice with the green tomato mix, add bacon bits (I use the fake ones) and some grated cheddar cheese. I usually serve this with steamed greens on the side: collards, kale, wild mustard or spinach.
Within three days of this barrage of turmeric (I even added it to our homemade pumpkin bread), the pain in my elbow was gone. I believe it was the turmeric, but even if that was just coincidence, if the studies prove true, by adding turmeric to our diet, we may be gaining protection from cancer, Alzheimer’s, radiation, free radicals, etc. And since it tastes so good and goes so well with so many things, why not add it? I encourage you to do your own research and try out a couple of these recipes while you’re at it. Unlike the drugs folks take for aches and pains, there are no side effects to using turmeric in your food, unless it’s so good that you eat too much. Then you get the full belly effect.