Health Benefits of Turmeric for a Scratchy Throat
While traveling, I was struck with a scratchy throat that threatened my ability to enjoy my trip. The friend I was visiting prepared fresh orange juice (her current love affair) and brewed a pot of turmeric tea before bed while sharing the health benefits of turmeric. She had focused on turmeric as a powerful anti-oxidant like Vitamin C and E to fight inflammatory disease in the body. Seems I had heard Dr. Oz speak highly of the health benefits of turmeric, but I could not quite remember what they are.
So while my friend prepared tea I sliced and chewed on a thin strip of the root. The taste of the root and the tea itself were really quite refreshing. Unlike a ginger root that is more pungent, turmeric root does not have an intense taste. I am accustomed to using it dried and powdered to color cooked items. But as a food as medicine proponent, it is not hard for me to believe there are health benefits of turmeric, as proven by the disappearance of my scratchy throat on the following day.
I was elated to wake up the next morning without a sore throat. And because this was such a powerful result, I just had to find a place that sold turmeric root to bring back home so that I could test it again.
I thought maybe the improvement in the rawness of my throat was a fluke. But I couldn’t take a chance. My girlfriend took me to a place called Santos Spices at 1188 Montague in San Leandro, California. It is a huge warehouse-like, no frills place that clearly services a huge population of South Asian buyers. There were multiple size packages of cardomon pods, for example which I’d been looking for in Whole Food and Wegman’s without success. Santos Spices sold classic red whole wheat flour, curry leaves, and asafetida. The store was so authentic that they were selling home-made samosas at the check-out counter for 75 cents.
But back to turmeric. In the 13th century turmeric was introduced by Arabians to Europe and became known as Indian saffron except that it doesn’t have much of a taste. Turmeric is now not only used in Indian delicacies but is a key Ayurvedic ingredient, an ancient Indian medical system of preventive health care that has gained traction among traditional physicians. Not to wear Dr. Oz out as an example, but as a forward-thinking heart specialist, he also combines traditional and Ayurvedic medicine in his practice.
The rhizome or root of turmeric plant is used to make turmeric spice which is what is most familiar familiar. The rhizome is boiled and then let to dry. The rough skins are removed and grounded to make a fine rich yellow turmeric powder.
I am a convert, not an expert. But let me share the most compelling thing I read about the healthy benefits:
“The volatile oil fraction of turmeric has demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory activity in a variety of experimental models. Even more potent than its volatile oil is the yellow or orange pigment of turmeric, which is called curcumin. Curcumin is thought to be the primary pharmacological agent in turmeric. In numerous studies, curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effects have been shown to be comparable to the potent drugs hydrocortisone and phenylbutazone as well as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents such as Motrin. Unlike the drugs, which are associated with significant toxic effects (ulcer formation, decreased white blood cell count, intestinal bleeding), curcumin produces no toxicity.”