It’s not a carrot, even though it reveals a dark golden flesh when peeled. It’s not a potato, but it has a rough, spud-like skin. And though it’s a close relative, it’s not quite ginger either.
Turmeric is a bioactive flowering plant with an array of medicinal benefits. Known for its sharp taste and bright yellow-orange insides, turmeric is most commonly used as a flavorful spice. The funky root, also known as a rhizome, is made up of a bright orange flesh encased in a dirty brown peel.
Earthy and bitter, turmeric can be eaten fresh or cooked. It’s common in Indian and other Eastern dishes like curry, and has even been used to add herbal potency to a golden milk latte.
In the wellness world, turmeric is often dried and ground into a versatile powder. The extracts may have higher percentages of the active ingredient, curcumin, which is responsible for the medicinal benefits of turmeric.
Turmeric can enter the body through oral consumption, or topically through the skin. Turmeric may come in a lotion, salve or other topical format.
Let’s talk about the top 3 benefits of turmeric topicals:
Turmeric as an anti-inflammatory
The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, is an anti-inflammatory powerhouse. It’s highly bioactive, meaning it has a biological effect on the body.
Turmeric is believed to be effective against inflammation at the molecular level. It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, and scientists are just beginning to scratch the surface to understand how turmeric works.
Chronic inflammation plays a role in the development of various autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis is a painful inflammation in the joints. Studies have shown that turmeric for arthritis can improve symptoms related to the condition.
Turmeric as an antioxidant
The active compounds in turmeric, called curcuminoids, are also strong antioxidants. Turmeric is known to support the body in fighting the effects of oxidative damage.
Oxidative damage has been linked to chronic disease and aging. Turmeric is believed to help the body mitigate free radicals — environmental toxins that build up in the body.
Curcumin has powerful antioxidant effects. It neutralizes free radicals on its own but also stimulates your body's own antioxidant enzymes.
Turmeric as a recovery aid
Turmeric has a variety of health benefits for the skin and muscles, too. Because it’s warming, it can be used as a post-work out muscle rub.
It’s effective in relieving aches and pains, plus soreness.
And we haven’t even listed all the benefits when consumed orally. Honestly, what can’t turmeric do?