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Herbal Monograph: Turmeric
Known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Common Name: Turmeric
Other Names: Indian saffron, Jiang Huang, Haridra, Haldi, Yellow ginger
Latin Name: Curcuma longa
Origin: India, Southeast Asia
Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, carminative, cholagogue, digestive, hepatoprotective, immunomodulatory
Pacifies all three doshas, especially kapha and pitta.
Turmeric is a perennial herb with a rhizomatous root that belongs to the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. It has distinctive yellow-orange flesh and a warm, bitter, and slightly acrid taste. The rhizomes are boiled, dried, and ground to produce a fine powder that is widely used in culinary and medicinal preparations.
Turmeric has many potential medicinal uses, including:
Reducing inflammation in the body
Relieving pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
Improving digestion and treating gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Assisting liver function and safeguarding against liver harm
Boosting the immune system
Supporting the prevention and treatment of specific forms of cancer
Lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels
Regulating blood sugar levels
Promoting healthy skin and treating inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Fighting off fungal infections such candida, especially in combination with vitamin C
How to Use:
Turmeric can be used in various forms such as powder, capsules, tinctures, teas, or as an external application. It is commonly used to add flavor to curries, sauces, soups, and stews. It can also be taken as a dietary supplement in capsule form, or applied topically in a paste form for skin conditions.
High doses of turmeric may cause gastrointestinal discomfort, including diarrhea and nausea. It may also interact with certain medications, including anticoagulants and chemotherapy drugs. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult with a healthcare professional before using turmeric.
Turmeric should be avoided by individuals with gallbladder disease or those who are allergic to ginger. It may also exacerbate stomach ulcers in some individuals.
Turmeric and Black Pepper
Turmeric and black pepper are often used together for their combined health benefits. Black pepper contains a compound called piperine, which enhances the absorption and bioavailability of curcumin, the main active ingredient in turmeric. Here are some pros and cons of using turmeric with black pepper:
Piperine in black pepper enhances the absorption and bioavailability of curcumin, making turmeric more effective.
Curcumin and piperine work synergistically to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and support the immune system.
The combination of turmeric and black pepper may have a protective effect against certain types of cancer.
Turmeric and black pepper have a complimentary taste profile, making them a great combination in cooking.
According to Ayurveda, black pepper can aggravate Pitta (see below).
Black pepper may cause gastrointestinal side effects such as heartburn, indigestion, and diarrhea in some individuals.
Piperine can interfere with the metabolism of certain medications, including some antidepressants, blood thinners, and statins.
High doses of black pepper or piperine may be toxic to the liver in some individuals.
There is a possibility that certain individuals might have an allergic reaction to black pepper or piperine.
Overall, using turmeric and black pepper together can be beneficial for health. However, it is important to use them in moderation and consult with a healthcare provider before using them in supplement form or in high doses.
Should You Use Black Pepper With Turmeric If You Have a Pitta Imbalance?
In Ayurveda, black pepper is considered to be heating and pungent in nature, which can aggravate the Pitta dosha if consumed in excess. Pitta is one of the three doshas or natural energy patterns in Ayurveda that governs metabolic and transformative processes in the body. When Pitta is imbalanced, it can manifest as irritability, inflammation, heartburn, and skin rashes, among other symptoms.
However, when used in moderate amounts, black pepper is believed to stimulate digestion and help balance the Kapha dosha, which governs stability and structure in the body. This is because black pepper helps to clear stagnation and ama (toxins) from the digestive system, which can lead to Kapha imbalances such as sluggishness and congestion.
In Ayurveda, the key is to find balance and moderation. So, if you have a Pitta imbalance or sensitivity, it's best to use black pepper in small amounts and in combination with other cooling and Pitta-balancing herbs and spices like coriander, fennel, cumin, and turmeric. It's also important to consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner to determine the best dietary and lifestyle practices for your unique constitution and imbalances.
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