Every day it seems like there is a new superfood that can cure cancer or offer other incredible health benefits. The jungles and mountains are being torn apart for their never-before seen secrets. But some of the most powerful healing foods have been used in traditional medicine and cooking for centuries. One of the most common medicinal foods with countless beneficial uses is that tangy orange Indian spice, turmeric.

Turmeric is a rhizome, a knobby little plant that grows very close to the soil surface. It is originally from India and South Asia, but now grows in tropical locations all over the world. It is most famous for being the main ingredient in curry spice mixes and the coloring agent in mustards.

Health Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric may be one of the most versatile plant medicines known to man. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-arthritic, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial.

Turmeric has been used to treat stomach pain, nausea, liver conditions, headaches, skin conditions, lung infections, fibromyalgia, menstrual problems, and Alzheimers disease.

Turmeric is being studied for its potential as a powerful cancer-fighter. A 2011 study at UCLA found that taking turmeric supplements suppressed the growth of head and neck cancers. The researchers also found that inflammatory cytokines were reduced, which means that the cancers and other diseases were no longer being fed by inflammation.

The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, a potent anti-oxidant. Curcumin is what gives turmeric its bright yellow-orange color, and what provides the anti-inflammatory benefits. Curcumin has been shown to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer. It has also been studied as a treatment for chemotherapy-resistant colorectal cancer tumors.

7 Ways to Use Turmeric

1. Healthy Skin

Women in India have used turmeric for thousands of years as a beauty tonic. You can mix it with honey or clay to make a face cleanser that will bring out your skins natural glow. It can be mixed with ground oats for a nourishing facial scrub.

Turmeric can be an effective treatment for eczema (dermatitis). A solution of turmeric and water is simmered for several minutes, then cooled and applied to the affected area.

A solution or paste of turmeric can be used to treat acne, burns, bites, and poison ivy outbreaks. Fair skin may be temporarily stained by turmeric, but the stain will fade within a few hours.

2. Glowing Teeth

Contrary to what you might think, turmeric can help remove coffee and tea stains from teeth. Mixing a little turmeric powder into a toothpaste helps whiten teeth, and its anti-inflammatory properties help heal gums.

3. Happy Belly

Turmeric has been used to treat stomach upset and nausea. A tea made of fresh or dried turmeric is a soothing post-meal drink, or a morning pick-me-up for people who suffer from chronic upset stomachs. It is also helpful for women suffering from menstrual cramps and cyclical bloating.

4. Strains and Sprains

A paste of dried turmeric powder and salt with a little water can significantly reduce swelling in a sprain or other injury. Be careful to wrap the paste well to avoid dripping, and know that it will probably stain your skin if it is on there for more than a few minutes.

5. Culinary Delights

The most famous way to use turmeric is as a flavorful addition to curried vegetable dishes. But you can also use this aromatic spice in soups, stews, smoothies, salads, and even desserts.

6. Clearing the Pipes

Because of its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic properties, turmeric is a powerful ally when you are detoxing or fasting. It also stimulates production of the enzymes that digest fat and sugars. Include the fresh root in your vegetable juices, or add the powder to your raw salads and smoothies.

7. Everything Else

This is a bit extreme, but truly turmeric has so many benefits that traditional doctors would use it to treat almost everything, from stomach disorders to liver trouble to dementia and beyond. For more serious conditions like arthritis and cancer, concentrated supplements seem to be required to get effective amounts of curcumin.

Pure curcumin supplements are available, but it is not yet clear if there are other constituents in the whole plant that are needed to get the full benefits of the curcumin. It seems the most effective turmeric supplements are concentrated organic whole plant extractions suspended in oil.

Turmeric supplements may be unsafe for people who are suffering from gallbladder disorders, reflux diseases like GERD, undergoing evasive surgery, or taking blood-thinning medications. Women who are pregnant or hoping to become pregnant should avoid turmeric/curcumin supplements because they can stimulate the uterus and cause premature labor.

These warnings apply to concentrated turmeric or curcumin supplements only. Using turmeric in moderation as a cooking spice is considered safe for nearly all people.

To get the full benefits of the curcumin, it needs to be consumed with dietary fat and black pepper. Most curry recipes include these co-factors, but if you are taking turmeric in other ways you will want to include some organic black pepper, preferably freshly ground, and a healthy fat like coconut oil or olive oil.

Also be sure that whatever form of turmeric you are taking is organic and free of additives.

Of all the powerful superfoods known to humans, one of the most versatile is also the most common. This pungent spice can add flavor to your food and years to your life.

Watch this video and learn about Important Dos & Donts of Using Turmeric: