One of the most beneficial of all herbs, and one which we should all keep in our kitchen, is turmeric (curcuma longa). The benefits of this amazing rhizome are almost too numerous to list. Let’s begin with it’s effects on the doshas. It pacifies kapha and will only increase pitta and vata if used in excess, making it basically good for all three doshas.
Turmeric works on all tissue elements of the body, although it has a special affinity for the plasma, lymph and blood. It’s taste is bitter, astringent and pungent. It is warming, and the long term effect is purifying. It works on the digestive, respiratory, circulatory and female reproductive systems. It purifies the blood, heals tissue, is anti-bacterial, analgesic, and dispels gas.
Here are a few of its many amazing uses: It has an anti-cancer effect, it decreases inflammation, improves digestion, lowers cholesterol, moves lymph, heals wounds, is associated with the prevention of Alzheimers, strokes and Parkinson’s disease. It’s used for diabetes, arthritis, sore throat, skin disorders. It’s a natural antibiotic. It clears ama (toxins). Turmeric helps stretch the ligaments, making it helpful for the practice of yoga. It can be used topically for strains, sprains, bruises and itching.
Turmeric provides the yellow in many mustards, which is a great color to get used to – consider adding turmeric to dishes on a regular basis, making your rice, veggies, grains, even your oatmeal a lovely shade of yellow as you consume lots of this wonderful herb!
Just note that there are a few precautions: Acute jaundice and hepatitis, high pitta, pregnancy. Contra-indicated if taking anti-platelet or anticoagulant medication.
By Marisa Laursen, C.A.S., P.K.S., A.Y.T., Faculty at the California College of Ayurveda
Reference: “The Yoga of Herbs,” Dr. David Frawley and Dr. Vasant Lad