We all have to get started somewhere, so let’s begin at the beginning of my treating my pain naturally. One of my first remedies I came across is turmeric. Turmeric is wonderful, and has been used by humanity for a long time, pretty much since written records existed. I heard some of the more senior in age ladies at my T’ai Chi Ch’uan class discussing their use of it for reduction of arthritis inflammation, and this inspired me to start looking into it myself.
An extremely brief history of turmeric is that it originated in South Asia and quickly spread throughout the region and as far East as Hawaii. It has been used as medicine, dye, preservation, and for spiritual/religious needs and ceremonies. Manners of ingestion also vary as well from smoke inhalation to an application of turmeric paste. I personally have three favorite ways of ingesting it.
If you like to cook I am sure you have run across Turmeric it is in a lot of yellow foods we consume most commonly plain old yellow mustard. You can sprinkle it on most foods, like meat or eggs, but I like to cook Indian and South East Asian food so it is a frequent ingredient in those recipes. The only downside to adding it to food is, everything tastes of turmeric. Which if you don’t care for the strong taste, can be off putting, and you can start to quickly tire of turmeric everything.
Tea (or Coffee)
I first came across this while watching Grow Your Own Drugs with James Wong (I love him so!). He has an amazing recipe for a Turmeric Teh Halia which inspired me to give it a go. It is a bit time consuming as a recipe, there is a listed quick-fix version but it still involves a pre-mix and heating milk. So being the on-the-go sort of lady I came up with my own “quick” recipes. If you can find it, it is best to use loose black tea, but most supermarkets these days only sell them in sachets. I like to use one sachet of a good Earl Grey, or if you are a die hard coffee drinker and can’t start your day without it, you can use coffee too! You just brew a cup of tea or coffee as you normally would, then you can add:
- 1 tsp ground dried Ginger
- 1 tsp ground dried Turmeric
- 1 pinch Black Pepper
- Honey (or other sweetener) to taste
- Milk (or your preferred Milk substitute)
You can start with a half tsp and work up to a full one if you find the turmeric too over powering. If you want to make the premix without the tea portion, just follow the linked quick-fix recipe but leave the tea out and add about 2 tsps to the cup. Up to 3 tsps can be added but more could be overkill). It is great in tea, but I really love it in a good cup of coffee in the morning.
I am extremely lactose intolerant and have used a few different substitutes and I find that coconut milk adds a nice flavor and most of the time sweet enough to where I don’t need to add any honey. Also, I usually have trouble with low blood sugar in the morning and generally find myself without an appetite for breakfast, but turmeric can be slight appetite stimulant and has helped me become better about eating in the morning. Overall as long as I work turmeric into my diet my inflammation is less, and I have found that if I miss a day or even a few days that the inflammation and pain levels slowly start to increase.
When I don’t have time to make a cup of coffee before I dash somewhere or dive into work, turmeric capsules are a fantastic backup. These are almost laughably easy to make, so much so I really do wonder why most people do not do this for themselves. There is a great tutorial on how to fill them by Mountain Rose Herbs (whom I highly recommend if you do not have a local herb store, or they don’t carry what you are looking for).
I generally use size “0” capsules at home and for myself I have been taking about a gram of turmeric a day. If you want to make larger capsules or smaller (I definitely recommend smaller if you have a difficult time swallowing pills) you can, I generally make mine about as close to half a gram each so two capsules are about a gram. For more information on capsule sizing, and general capsule information) try here.
Now, I will say this for the first time and definitely not the last (you may actually get sick of me saying it) each person is different, you should start with small doses and work your way up. Always, always, always, educate yourself and make sure that you are not taking medications that will interact negatively with the turmeric. I generally trust WebMD, and will review interactions and side effects they list on their site for whatever I am looking into taking.
If you are ever unsure about anything, consult a professional! You will be glad you did!