Tag Archives: black pepper

The power of turmeric

turmeric

In the southern soil of India
Thrives a thick, beloved plant
Leaves of gold are tipped with rose hues
And its oil enhances chants

Sometimes called curcuma longa
Its roots promise love and health
Fragrant curries, healing powders
Indian saffron, sign of wealth

Warm and gentle is the fragrance
Earthy subtle undertones
Soon evolving to a sweetness
Therapy for weary bones

Brides are spread with its thick mixture
In the land of Bangladesh
Bodies gleaming golden ochre
Deep red henna hands enmeshed

But like every panacea
This spice has its bitter side
When combined with clove or ginger
Jekyll turns to bleeding Hyde

There are many healing flora
Flourishing in distant fields
Turmeric is one such blessing
In its golden orange yields

In the southern soil of India
Thrives a thick, beloved plant
Leaves of gold are tipped with rose hues
And its oil enhances chants. 

by Liilia Talts Morrison

Turmeric, the staple ingredient of curry, has been used in India for thousands of years as both a spice and medicinal herb; it is referred to as ‘holy powder’. It is a root belonging to the same family as ginger and its vivid orange flesh is responsible for colouring curry yellow. It has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine to strengthen liver function and treat wounds and infections.

Curcumin, the main active ingredient in turmeric, has a powerful anti-inflammatory action. In clinical trials its anti-inflammmatory activity has been shown to be comparable to drugs such as hydrocortisone and ibuprofen. Curcumin belongs to a chemical group known as curcuminoids which reduce inflammation by blocking prostaglandin activity.

Turmeric’s powerful antioxidant capacity boosts the immune system. It is full of potent biochemical compounds called polyphenols, as well as vitamins and minerals. It is is up to 10 times more potent than vitamins C and E and also enhances the production of glutathione, the body’s most abundant antioxidant.

Turmeric is also excellent for cardiovascular health by helping to prevent unwanted blood clots by its anti-platelet, blood thinning activity. It can be helpful in the prevention and treatment of many different health conditions from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease.

Turmeric has a distinctly earthy, slightly bitter, almost mustardy taste. It is best to consume it with black pepper  because alone it is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream; combining it with pepper enhances absorption by 2000%. Curcumin is fat soluble, so it always best to combine it with a meal containing fat.

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Black pepper: The King of Spices

blackpepper

Originating in India and now grown in South-East Asia, Brazil and Africa, black pepper – or piper nigrum – is also known as the King of Spices and has a long history of medicinal use. More recently, numerous studies have proven and revealed its numerous therapeutic benefits.

As the world’s most traded spice, one of black pepper’s main, and perhaps most interesting, properties is that it potentiates the assimilation of nutrients; vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients are better absorbed when taken with black pepper. It is the compound piperine, an alkaloid compound present in black pepper that helps to improve absorption  by increasing bioavailability. It is so effective that it might double the nutrients taken in from food. This property also helps drugs work more efficiently.

The piperine content of black pepper also makes it an excellent digestive stimulant. It informs the taste buds that the stomach should get ready to produce more hydrochloric acid, essential for the digestion of proteins and other foods in the stomach. It is reputed for its carminative properties and is frequently used to treat gastric problems such as nausea, diarrhoea and even intestinal parasites.

Black pepper might also help you lose weight. According to a study published in 2006, black pepper acts as a thermogenic, meaning that it increases the metabolic rate. Another study found that piperine suppresses genes needed for new fat cell growth, and, as a result, it fights the development of new fat cells.

Black pepper’s antioxidant and immuno-stimulating properties make it a effective barrier against bacteria. Its expectorant properties mean that it is recommended for sore throats, cold, chronic bronchitis and laryngitis. Several studies even suggest that piperine, especially when combined with turmeric, has the ability to kill cancer cells.

Finally, a study published in 2012 reported that piperine increases serotonin levels in the brain, which means that it could be effective against depression. Regular consumption of black pepper also increases cognitive function and enhances brain activity in general.