Turmeric, Curcuma longa, has been used for over 4,000 years in Asia as a helpful ally. From the dying of clothes, to Hindu wedding ceremonies, to healing digestive & skin ailments, turmeric has served humankind in a myriad of ways. Today, turmeric is a buzz word amongst alternative healers, herbalists and yogis alike. People are returning back to the healing actions and properties of turmeric to heal their bodies in a holistic, pure way. The healing substance found in turmeric is called curcumin. Curcumin imparts the golden yellow color and also provides the medicinal action of turmeric. Curcumin has a prabhava, or special effect, on the large intestine and when combined with pippali, or long pepper, can help protect the body from colon cancer. Curcumin also provides turmeric with its strong anti-inflammatory and pain relieving actions. This is why one may hear of medical practitioners recommending turmeric if their client or patient is dealing with joint pain or arthritis.
Ayurveda, India’s traditional medical system that dates back over 5,000 years, calls turmeric the Golden Goddess. Ayurveda literally means the science of life and throughout its medical texts, reveres turmeric as one of the most powerful herbs to utilize for a multitude of ailments. For example, turmeric is one of the most recommended herbs amongst Ayurvedic practitioners, herbalists and doctors to support digestive health. It aids in indigestion, reduces excess heat that can accumulate in the digestive tract (which can lead to heartburn, GERD and diarrhea) and also clears ama or toxins in the digestive system. Turmeric also works in the rakta or blood channel as a circulatory stimulant as well as a blood tonic because it supports the building of red blood cells. Surprisingly, turmeric actually has a whitening effect on the teeth and its antibacterial properties help promote oral health. Ayurveda also indicates turmeric for external application, for wounds, bruises and skin ailments.
The Golden Goddess has gained wide popularity in the skincare and beauty industry for its positive effects on skin health. It can even skin tone, soothe and smooth the skin, while also lightening any excess skin pigmentation. Another benefit of turmeric is that it helps fight free radical damage due to its antioxidant effects. Skin elasticity can be improved through daily application of turmeric. Another big gift turmeric offers is its ability to heal and prevent acne due to its strong antibacterial properties. In short, turmeric is one of the greatest allies one can implement if searching for organic, earth based, chemical free skincare.
Here is a simple exfoliating face mask recipe one can make at home to begin to bring turmeric into your skincare and beauty ritual:
1 Tbsp Organic Turmeric
1 tsp Organic Chickpea Flour
1/4 tsp Himalayan salt
¼ tsp Organic Almond, Rice or Coconut Milk
¼ tsp Organic Olive, Sunflower of Almond Oil
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl to make a paste. Apply the paste evenly to the skin of the face and neck. Be sure to apply in gentle, circular, upward strokes. Let sit for 2-5 minutes. Gently rinse away the mask with tepid water.
The addition of the non-dairy milk, salt and chickpea flour will help inhibit any temporary staining of the skin that turmeric could create. However, if you want to be extra careful with not staining the face, look for Kasturi Turmeric (curcuma aromatica) which is non-staining and excellent for the skin. Another option would be to do a gentle salt or sugar scrub combined with some olive, sunflower or almond oil after the face mask application to remove any golden residue from the skin.
Turmeric is an ancient herb with modern day applications. It can be used in a multitude of ways from sacred religious ceremonies to improving digestive, circulatory and skin health, just to name a few. Both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine recognized the healing properties of the herb early on and to this day, honor turmeric as one of the most versatile healing plants. When considering how turmeric can best enhance one’s life, speak with a certified Ayurvedic or Chinese practitioner or herbalist. When implementing turmeric into your daily skincare ritual, begin with a small patch test, perhaps on the forearm to ensure that no irritation occurs. From there, begin to apply in larger portions for radiant, smooth supple skin.
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By Trudy Collings
*Image Courtesy of Nourished Kitchen.