You probably know turmeric as the bright, pungent spice that features in many Indian curry dishes. But according to food writer Tori Avey, in an article for PBS Food, turmeric has been used as medicine for the past 4,500 years. Avey explains in the Indian Ayurvedic (“science of life”) tradition, turmeric is revered for its anti-inflammatory properties, as well as its ability to treat congestion, wounds, bruises and other skin conditions, including smallpox and shingles.
Though turmeric is delicious in eggs, rice, soups and smoothies, as recommended by The Kitchn, it can also be mixed with other household ingredients to make topical treatments and ointments to heal everything from acne to cancer.
1. Heal cuts and wounds. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral agent. Therefore, according to Turmeric for Health, the spice prevents bacterial infection in open wounds, relieves inflammation and pain, and helps form new skin cells to close wounds. To use turmeric to heal wounds and cuts, simply apply turmeric powder directly to the wound. For additional benefits, you can mix turmeric with linseed oil or ginger paste in order to reduce pain.
2. Facial cleanser and acne treatment. Make an organic facial cleanser using 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1/4 teaspoon neem oil (made from a tropical tree native to India and the Indian subcontinent) or substitute the neem oil for organic, free-range milk, and 1- 3 drops of lavender oil or coconut oil. According to Healthy Holistic Living, this face mask is especially good for preventing acne breakouts because both the turmeric and neem oil or milk have anti-fungal properties. Livestrong recommends letting the paste dry on your face for 30 minutes to help heal acne scars.
3. Reduce inflammation. An article on WebMd explains the active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, is known to decrease inflammation and swelling. Because of this special property, it has been used to treat inflammatory diseases ranging from Rheumatoid arthritis to Crohn’s disease and from eye inflammation to gingivitis. Livestrong recommends drinking homemade turmeric tea in order to reduce inflammation. To make the tea, boil 4 cups of water with one teaspoon of ground turmeric. Let the tea simmer for 10 minutes and then strain it into a cup. You can add ginger for an extra kick against inflammation.
4. Fight against cancer. According to Cancer Research UK, the curcumin in turmeric has anti-cancer properties. Studies have shown its effectiveness at killing cancer cells and preventing more from growing, especially in breast, bowel, stomach and skin cancer. NutritionFacts.org explains how applying a topical ointment made from turmeric can treat cancers of the skin, mouth and vulva. To make your own turmeric ointment, simply mix store-bought turmeric powder with vaseline and rub it on your cancer three times daily. Patients who suffered from ulcerated cancers that smelled and itched were highly surprised to find the turmeric ointment not only reduced smell and itch, but it also healed lesions.
5. Ease the pain of Psoriasis. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease characterized by patches of red, itchy and scaly skin. It can be painful and irritating and the fact that there are no known cures can cause patients much stress and anxiety. There is hope, however. A study published in the Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences, and Applications, found that after 16 weeks of applying a gel made from curcumin, while avoiding allergens and dairy products, as well as continuing the use of topical steroids and antibiotics, almost three-quarters of patients were completely cleared of symptoms. To use turmeric topically, Healthline recommends making a thick paste by simmering one part turmeric and two parts water in a saucepan.
6. Treat Eczema. Jen, of the blog Eczema Holistic Healing, posted a series of personal photographs to show the positively amazing effects of a turmeric face mask on eczema around the mouth. Jen’s simple home remedy was made using a dash of turmeric and a spoonful of organic virgin coconut oil. She mixed the two ingredients and used it on her dry and scaly skin. After just one day, she saw a visible difference and after four days, was completely relieved of flaking, cracking, irritated skin.
7. Boost oral health and hygiene. You might be surprised to hear that a bright yellow spice used for centuries to dye textiles is good for oral health. But in fact, a study published in the Journal for Contemporary Dental Practice found that turmeric is equally effective as a mouthwash as typical store-bought products in preventing plaque and gingivitis.