Video: Spices With Dr. Weil - Turmeric

Dr. Weil discusses the health benefits of this popular Indian spice. Turmeric is a close relative of another common anti-inflammatory rhizome, ginger. Adding turmeric to your diet by eating more curries, drinking turmeric tea, or simply adding this brightly colored spice to recipes may offer long-term health benefits as well.


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Video Transcript: Spices with Dr. Weil – Turmeric

Turmeric is a close relative of ginger, from another rhizome that’s narrower than this one and we get it primarily in the form of powder; although fresh turmeric rhizomes are becoming available in specialty markets now. This is the spice that makes American mustard yellow and curry powder yellow. It is very widely used in India and Southeast Asia. Indians eat turmeric in every meal and this is the most potent natural anti-inflammatory agent that’s been found. Americans in the West really don’t have much cultural tradition for using turmeric. I had an Indian student at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, from Kurla from South India. She was a very good cook, a family physician, and she would tell patients to get in the habit of adding a level teaspoon of powder turmeric to stews and soups and bean dishes. At that level the bitterness of it is acceptable.

That’s a good way to get turmeric into you, but I very frequently recommend turmeric for therapeutic use. One thing to know about it is that if you just take turmeric by itself, it doesn’t get out of the gut and in order to be absorbed it needs to be combined with black pepper or an extract of black pepper. Indians generally eat turmeric with black pepper in all of their curries. So for gut problems, like inflammatory bowel disease, you can just take turmeric capsules in any form but if you’re taking this for say, arthritis, or more generalized inflammatory complaints, you want to look for products that say they contain piperine or a black pepper extract along with the turmeric. Turmeric also has, I think, very significant cancer-protective effects and is good for the liver.

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