Turning down Turmeric

Once upon a time, there was a yellow ginger called Turmeric that not many people knew about. Come 2018, every health website has high turmeric metric readings, golden powder are sprinkled everywhere and instagram #turmeric pulls up 721,000 posts and counting 😲.

💛 What is Turmeric

Turmeric is a member of the Curcuma botanical group, which is also a part of the ginger family. It is commonly used in Indian spice, source of dye and food colouring because of it’s beautiful bright yellow colour. The Chinese name for Turmeric is Jiang Huang, meaning ginger (jiang), yellow (huang). Yellow ginger!

Not only is it used for colouring and cooking, it is a valuable medicinal herb. In Western medicine, it is widely known for it anti-inflammatory properties, anti fungal properties, reduce blood sugar and decrease blood cholesterol levels.

Turmeric in TCM

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM),  turmeric or Jiang Huang is:

  • Property: WARM
  • Target organs:  Spleen and Liver
  • Actions: Eliminate blood stasis, promote the flow of Qi. Relieve pain by moving Blood TCM believes that when Blood is stuck, there is pain. When obstruction is removed, pain is relieved.
  • Used for:  Shoulder pain (very good for this!), rheumatic pain,  chest and hypochondriac (rib area) pain, menstrual pain. 

Ok, then it got me thinking.

🤔 But isn’t anti-inflammatory herb meant to be cooling?

The 5 signs of inflammation are – Redness, Heat, Swelling, Pain and Loss of function. Well, these signs of inflammation can’t really be seen if it is happening inside our body such as inflammation of our gut wall causing leaky gut. In TCM,  herbs that can “Purge toxin and Clear Heat” are usually used for inflammation. So imagine this situation: To put out this inflammation “fire”, wouldn’t you think of spraying cold water? But why are we sprinkling warm golden turmeric powder. That’s adding fuel to fire, no? 🚒

Turmeric is not for the heaty body type

So I went to check if turmeric was really heaty or not. Yes, it turned out turmeric is indeed a warm herb. If turmeric is heaty then those with heatiness or Yin deficiency heat (empty heat) shouldn’t be enjoying their daily turmeric lattes anymore.

Heaty Body Type: It is due to too much fire / Yang in the body. This is true heat.

Yin deficiency: Yin is the energy is responsible for moistening and cooling. When there is less Yin, the body heats up like a dry desert. This is not true heat and is know as “empty heat”. It’s like wheels getting heated up by friction due to lack of oil lubrication.

🔥 HEATY BODY TYPE

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Easily get mouth ulcer
  • Prone to acne
  • Excessive thirst
  • Redness of skin
  • Skin feel warm/hot to touch
  • Cannot stand the heat

🐪 YIN DEFICIENCY BODY TYPE

  • Night sweats
  • Dryness (dry throat, dry cough, dry lips, dry stools)
  • Hot flashes especially in the evening
  • Hot palms and soles of feet
  • Very red tongue with very little coating

However, if you have Yang deficiency, meaning that you lack the fire/ heat in your body, then turmeric is suitable for you. Yang deficiency symptoms are : Feeling cold all the time, asking for jacket every time, feeling uncomfortable after eating ice cold food of drink, cold hands and feet, easily get loose stools and usually have a sallow pale complexion.

Turmeric’s friends- Yu Jin and E Zhu

After some reading, I found out that there’s similar herbs in the same Turmeric family- Yu Jin and E Zhu.  Like Turmeric, they are all blood vitalizers, but unique in their own way.

🔥 E zhu

  • Property: WARM
  • Target organs: Spleen & Liver
  • Actions: To promote the flow of Qi. Very strong blood stasis elimination power. Remove pain by removing stagnant undigested food.
  • Used for: Mass in abdomen due to undigested food, injuries, menstruation with long cycles due to coldness in the lower abdomen, ease painful menstruation due to blood clots.
  • Fun fact:  Often combined with buddy herb San Leng  in treating blood stasis for injuries with masses.

❄️ Yu Jin

  • “Yu” means Stagnant, “Jing” means Metal, referring to the Lungs.
  • Property: COOL 
  • Target organs: Lung, Heart, Gallbladder (some say Spleen, Liver) so it’s a multitasker herb.
  • Actions:  To promote flow of Qi and eliminate blood stasis. Calm the nerves, calm the mind and increase the flow of bile.
  • Used for: Amenorrhea (no period), dysmenorrhea (painful period), distending or pricking pain in chest and abdomen, epilepsy, mania, jaundice with dark urine.

Now you know, Turmeric is not for everyone

See if your body is suitable for turmeric. If yes, you can take them ½ teaspoon per day everyday. Otherwise, it’s best to take them twice a week.

It is advised to avoid it during pregnancy, during heavy menstruation or if you have a heaty or Yin deficiency heat body constitution.

 How do you take Turmeric? 

Share your answers in the comment below 👇

 


References:
https://www.encyclopedia.com/plants-and-animals/plants/plants/turmeric
http://www.itmonline.org/arts/turmeri3.htm

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