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Q I’ve been read­ing a lot on­line about the ben­e­fits of turmeric. Is it re­ally as pow­er­ful as it is be­ing made out to be?

A Turmeric is one of the most pow­er­ful nat­u­ral anti-in­flam­ma­tory, an­tiox­i­dant and an­ti­sep­tic spices avail­able. Cur­cumin, the ac­tive in­gre­di­ent in turmeric, has a wide range of ther­a­peu­tic ef­fects. Turmeric is also rich in man­ganese, iron, vi­ta­min B6, cal­cium, phos­pho­rus, potas­sium and fi­bre.

I ad­vise tak­ing turmeric, ei­ther in­di­vid­u­ally or mixed with other herbs and spices, for con­di­tions such as arthri­tis, flat­u­lence, jaun­dice, men­strual dif­fi­cul­ties, toothache, bruises, ch­est pain, colic, in­flam­ma­tory bowel dis­ease and al­ler­gic rhini­tis.

The ap­pli­ca­tion of turmeric to the skin is ef­fec­tive for ring­worm, bruis­ing, in­sect bites, eye in­fec­tions and in­flam­ma­tory skin con­di­tions. It is also found to have a pro­tec­tive ef­fect on the liver, anti-tu­mour ac­tion, the abil­ity to re­duce in­flam­ma­tion and fight cer­tain in­fec­tions and tackle some forms of can­cer, in­clud­ing prostate, breast, skin and colon. Turmeric can be in­cluded in food for daily in­take – sprin­kling the pow­der on veg­eta­bles or mix­ing it into dress­ings is safe and ef­fec­tive; the rec­om­mended dosage is 1-3g per day.

Ex­ces­sive use of it, how­ever, may cause an up­set stom­ach in cer­tain cases. It is also ad­vised to take pre­cau­tions dur­ing preg­nancy, gall blad­der prob­lems, be­fore and after a sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure and while tak­ing anti-co­ag­u­lant medicines, among oth­ers.

The herb can be ben­e­fi­cial for pre­vent­ing gall­stones – but its use is con­traindi­cated in pa­tients with ac­tive gall­stones. Here are some kitchen reme­dies for com­mon con­di­tions. Please con­sult your doc­tor be­fore be­gin­ning the ther­apy.

Anaemia: Take a tea­spoon of turmeric juice with a tea­spoon of amla juice or with honey.

Burns: Ap­ply turmeric mixed with aloe vera gel or honey.

Hy­per-pig­men­ta­tion: Mix turmeric and chick­pea pow­der with water and use as a body scrub.

Aches and pains: Ap­ply a paste of fresh turmeric over the mus­cle pain or in­flam­ma­tion.

To im­prove com­plex­ion: blend turmeric, chick­pea flour, al­mond oil and honey and mas­sage on your face be­fore tak­ing a shower.

Atopic eczema: Ap­ply a mix­ture of turmeric (½ tsp) and co­conut milk (2-3 Tbsp).

A word of cau­tion: Turmeric pow­der from com­mon spice mills might con­tain chilli and other spices. Make sure you are only us­ing pure turmeric.

DR VL SHYAM is a Dubai-based Ayurveda prac­ti­tioner

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