What is turmeric?

By Aimee Hughes | Published: April 12, 2017 | Last updated: August 26, 2020

Turmeric is a fantastic little spice used in Ayurvedic medicine to prevent and cure a treasure trove of ills. In the Indian pantry, turmeric is used in most dishes. In the West, we’re not nearly as accustomed to using turmeric in our cooking. Which is why we’re seeing it in supplement and powder form in health food stores all over North America. (Read more in the Top 5 Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants.)

The lovely thing about turmeric is that it’s one of Mother Nature’s most powerful herbal remedies. You can eat it daily in your food and even take it each day in supplement form to prevent just about any and every disease under the sun.

Why? Because turmeric is a mighty herb that has several important healing properties:

  • It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory.
  • It’s an all-natural cancer treatment.
  • It’s an excellent all-natural pain killer.

Inflammation is at the root of every disease. From arthritis to high cholesterol, from cancer to chronic pain, inflammation is what makes these diseases tick. The ingredient found in turmeric that’s responsible for its anti-inflammatory powers is curcumin, an anti-inflammatory compound that’s probably the most effective among herbs and possibly even among man-made pharmaceuticals.

Did you know that more studies are showing turmeric to be an effective anti-cancer agent? Again, the curcumin found in turmeric is what makes the spice have an anti-cancer effect on cancer cells. Skin cancer, stomach cancer, breast cancer and bowel cancer are the cancers studies are proving to be most positively affected by turmeric. (Read more in Golden Milk: A Yogi's Drink of Choice.)

Turmeric is a great alternative to pharmaceuticals for pain relief. Once again, it’s the curcumin found in turmeric that makes it work against pain. Many studies have shown turmeric to fight pain in diabetes patients and burn victims. As more studies are done, I’m sure we’ll find that turmeric’s ability to ease pain and symptoms in many other diseases as well. (Learn more in Why Yogis Love Turmeric.)


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Written by Aimee Hughes

Aimee Hughes

Aimee is a yogi and writer who's been practicing yoga daily for more than 21 years. Since a journey to India when she was 20, the practice has been her constant companion. She loves exploring the vast and seemingly endless worlds of yoga. Aimee has also written a book titled, "The Sexy Vegan Kitchen: Culinary Adventures in Love & Sex." You can find her at her new site:

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