Healing Herbs #1: Turmeric

Healing Herbs #1: Turmeric

Herbalist blog by Violet Yaga 

Close your eyes and try to visualize a mahogany table, polished but rustic, with turmeric powder on top. Dunes of golden dust, the warm colour of flames, the colour of the sun’s rays, in front of you.

These are two of the three reasons I chose Turmeric for the days of Imbolc: the flame like the flame of Brighid, the flame of the forge that renews and improves us, and the rays of the sun, which return after the winter darkness to wake us up.

The third is for the high healing power of this rhizome so rich in curcumin – a powerful anti-inflammatory which becomes much more powerful if taken combined with black pepper – and vitamin C, with a regenerative action of the gastrointestinal tract – for digestive difficulties, irritable bowel syndrome, dyspepsia, parasites, abdominal cramps -, carminative for meteorisms, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunostimulant, and it also facilitates the production of bile and the emptying of the gallbladder from bile, protects the liver from toxins and has a cardioprotective effect (1), helps in case of bronchitis and it is a strong detoxifying boost, the first in my tradition, which will be followed later by dandelion and nettle.

Even Culpeper, in 1653, recommended it for problems related to the gastrointestinal tract: “it is useful against yellow jaundice, and cold distemper of the liver and spleen, half a dram is taken at night by going to bed in the pulp of an apple roasted, and if you add a little saffron to it, it will be much better” (2).

I also use it as golden milk for an anti-inflammatory action on some problems related to long covid, and it is also used for the same purpose in the case of fibromyalgia. Current research is verifying its use both as an anti-tumour and as an aid to reduce the side effects of anti-tumour treatments (3). The only contraindication that I know of – apart from always not exaggerating and consulting a doctor when you want to use it for therapeutic purposes – is not to take it if you suffer from peptic ulcers or gallstones, to use gloves if you use the rhizome, and do not use it directly on the skin if you have a light or pale tone, because turmeric is a dye, the skin remains orange for a long time.

Turmeric, in myth, takes us to the world of Ayurveda, where it is called Kanchani, “Golden Goddess”  for its healing properties, and has become an integral part of the daily diet, including curries and bread. On a spiritual level it is added to purification incense and considered a cleanse of the chakras and purifier of the channels of the subtle body.

It is also present in some interpretations of the myth of Baba Yaga as part of the healing path of the gastro-intestinal tract, with three doors or levels of transformation: the cardia with the myth of Frau Trude by the Brothers Grimm with Lady’s mantle, the pylorus with turmeric and Vasilisa as an active person to meet the Goddess: look for the house, call her, introduce herself. She needs fire, the nutritional principle, the alchemical transformation as gastric juices transform food into energy, and finally with the ileocecal valve with the myth of Frau Holle and the myrtle (4).

A recipe: turmeric paste

It is a paste that is always present in my fridge, which I add to warm milk (choose the type you prefer) to prepare golden milk every day, and I also add it to curries, risottos, vegetable soups.
Melt 25 grams of coconut oil over a very low heat, add 70 grams of ground turmeric, a teaspoon of ground ginger, a teaspoon of cinnamon, half a teaspoon of black pepper and mix until you obtain a paste, you can add water if you need it, a spoonful at a time. I usually add 4 or 5. I keep it in the fridge in a glass jar for two weeks.

1 “il dizionario delle erbe” di Riza,
2 Culpeper’s complete herbal
3 https://www.ayurvedacollege.com
4 podcast  Roberta Schembri’s Erboristeria narrativa “Amanita”, 16 nov 2023 https://www.facebook.com/erboristerianarrativa