One of the welcoming signs you will see as you approach the southern town of Punta Gorda in Belize is a brightly colored yellow sign declaring the region as the “Yellow Ginger Capital”. Yellow Ginger, or turmeric as we most commonly know it, grows wild in the rich volcanic soil in this region of Belize. You can find it growing in backyards, alongside the road and deep in the heart of the jungle.
Our most notable discovery of turmeric was the excitement on the faces of the San Pablo farmers who were eager to plant turmeric in their fields because they knew it would provide greater financial gain for their families – if we were able to source them with the root stock – we were …. and we did! Little did we know that this simple meeting with 17 village farmers would morph into an export business …. Maya Mountain Coffee & Spice Company was established and has become a conduit to financial stability for many remote village farmers in the outlying villages of Toledo District.
According to Mercola.com, turmeric, which belongs to the ginger family, has been used in East India and the Middle East for thousands of years, and is now one of the most highly-prized spices in the world. It’s actually unclear whether it was first used for its peppery flavor and the unique kick it lends to foods. Ancient medicinal uses for turmeric began when it was noted as an anti-inflammatory agent, and then to treat a wide variety of conditions, such as jaundice, menstrual problems, blood in the urine, hemorrhaging, toothaches, bruises, chest pain, flatulence, and colic. The name “turmeric” is derived from the Persian word for “saffron,” the neon yellow-orange hue used to make curry and yellow mustard.
Health Benefits of Turmeric
Basic nutritional aspects of turmeric include a 26% daily value in manganese and 16% in iron. It’s also an excellent source of fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, and healthy amounts of vitamin C and magnesium. While it’s improbable that someone would ingest an entire ounce of turmeric in one sitting (although it would be completely safe), the nutritional aspects listed above can be seen more easily in this amount than in a teaspoon, which accounts for zero amount of anything. But one tablespoon, being a more reasonable serving, does communicate excellent phytonutrients. In fact, turmeric is effective even in very small quantities, such as one serving of a turmeric-spiced dish.
The health benefits of turmeric include an improved ability to digest fats, reducing gas and bloating, decreased congestion, and improved skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne.
Curcumin, the primary pharmacological agent in this spice, contains proven effects in this area that are comparable to over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents as well as some prescription medications. But curcumin doesn’t produce the toxic effect that synthetic drugs sometimes do, such as ulcer formation, internal bleeding, and even a lowered white blood cell count.
More reported health benefits of turmeric include relief from joint pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis, reduced joint swelling, and greater range of motion when used regularly. It’s another case of the spice alone having similar effects to that of a prescription medication, but with fewer symptomatic downsides.
Research also suggests that turmeric may be helpful in treating inflammatory bowel diseases, lowering cholesterol counts, protecting the heart, relieving indigestion, improving liver function, and even preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Cancer prevention and inhibited cancer cell growth –specifically cancer of the breast, colon, prostate, and lung, and childhood leukemia – are also on the list of possible benefits.
One study noted that curcumin, the major component of the spice turmeric, has several therapeutic effects, one being the inhibition of cancer cell proliferation. Curcumin was studied against triple-negative breast cancer, which scientists noted has a poor prognosis, after which researchers concluded that curcumin may be able to inhibit the proliferation of TNBC cells, possibly due to a change in the signaling pathway of the cancer’s underlying molecular mechanism.1
Turmeric extracts were also tested and found to have skin-improving properties. In one study, extracts of turmeric were used on ultraviolet radiation-damaged skin for six weeks. Scientists reported improvements in skin hydration and sebum content, along with possibilities that similar creams could be used in future photoprotective formulations.2
In another study, an ethanol extract of turmeric and curcumin ointment were found to produce significant pain relief in patients with external cancerous lesions.3
Many of the health benefits of turmeric can be experienced by thinking of your food as a medicine, which was the advice of Hippocrates in the 4th century B.C. This bright yellow spice contains potent antioxidants and benefits that studies have shown can fight diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
- 1http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23023821, Curcumin induces apoptosis of triple-negative breast cancer cells by inhibition of EGFR expression, Oct. 2012
- 2http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22151933, Topical vesicular formulations of Curcuma longa extract on recuperating the ultraviolet radiation-damaged skin.
- 3http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2435036, Turmeric and curcumin as topical agents in cancer therapy, Oct. 2012
GOLDEN MILK … A YUMMY WAY TO GET THE MOST OUT OF THIS AMAZING SPICE
Curcumin in turmeric is one of the most potent anti-inflammatories in nature,which is why, if you’re struggling with any inflammatory disorder, golden milk is a beverage worth trying. Give this recipe a try ….. your health may depend on it!
Maya Mountain has done all the work in making it super easy to consume a daily mug of golden milk …… just 1 teaspoon in your choice of milk (cow, almond, coconut, rice, etc.). OR you can also add to JUICES, SMOOTHIES, SAVORY SAUCES, AND MARINADES.
IF YOU’RE NOT CONVINCED THAT YOU WANT TO ADD TURMERIC TO YOUR DAILY DIET, HERE ARE A FEW MORE REASONS WHY YOU WANT TO ADD TURMERIC TO YOUR DIET
Curcumin in turmeric has the ability to modulate genetic activity and expression — both by destroying cancer cells and by promoting healthy cell function. It also promotes anti-angiogenesis, meaning it helps prevent the development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer cellgrowth.Curcumin appears to be universally useful for just about every type of cancer. In additio n, according to an ever-expanding clinical body of studies, curcumin may help:
– Support healthy cholesterol levels
- Suppress thrombosis and myocardial infarction
- Suppress symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes
- Suppress symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
- Suppress symptoms of multiple sclerosis
- Suppress symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
- Inhibit HIV replication
- Suppress tumor formation
- Enhance wound healing
- Protect against liver disease
- Increase bile secretion
- Protect against cataracts(mercola.com)
OTHER USES OF TURMERIC
To get the most of what turmeric has to offer, use it to enhance many of the current ho-hum dishes on your table, such as fish dishes or any meat for that matter; turmeric can add delicious complexity to mashed dishes like potatoes or cauliflower, sautés with onions, broccoli, carrots, or bell peppers or any combination of roasted vegetables. It can be used as a base for creamy vegetable dips, sauces, and eggs, and makes a great addition to smoothies, juice or yogurt parfaits. Add to any savory meat dish or sprinkle on salads.
FOR TOPICAL USE – turmeric is a great open wound healer. Make a paste with ground turmeric and water, rub on wound, wrap well and leave overnight.
After consuming golden milk for several years, it is tasting so much better these days because of that simple meeting with village farmers who with the excitement of a child, accepted a partnership …. a partnership that not only allows for a distribution market for the farmers, but to also help provide a sustainable living for village families through the purchase of Maya Mountain products. With a portion of profits being returned to our partnering villages to provide elementary, secondary and technical educational sponsorships, permaculture farm practice training, seed and crop stock resources for farmers and back yard garden projects, Maya Mountain Coffee & Spice Company is more than a avenue to bring jungle sourced coffee and spices to you, we are helping to shape lives and bring hope to village families.
Just as this brilliantly colored gem of the jungle has captured our attention on many levels, so have the rolling hills of lush tropical flowers and greenery, the stately and looming cohune palms, and the acres and acres of citrus groves …. but not nearly as much as the hard working, beautiful people that call the gracefully scattered primitive huts their home. Living a lifestyle that is so different from what we know in America, there is not only a curious sense of wanting to spend a day in their life, but there is also a respect for their resourcefulness and need to live in community with each other. It makes you think ….