Monday, February 01, 2016

Some Family Recipes on Using Turmeric: Diet & Skin Care

I'd received many questions on how to use Turmeric, once relatively unknown in the West but is now being called a 'Super-food'. In fact, last day when I met my dietitian here in Toronto, she was listing some detox ingredients I could add to my diet and she started with, "Do you know about Turmeric? Its this awesome..."

Yep, Turmeric is awesome. But then we in India have always known how awesome it is.
I am from the tropical southern part of India, the fabled land of spices for which many wars were fought apparently (sigh). We have our spice markets and every home is never without a standard set of spices.

Turmeric, if not the King or Queen of the spices, is pretty high up in the ranks. I am not going to yarn about how this is a gift of nature and all its properties.
All I am going to list are some family recipes on how we used and continue to use this herb/spice.


We use turmeric in its powdered form in 2 ways in our diet. There could be more ways to use this but sadly I am not aware of it.

1. As a must-add ingredient in all most all dishes, especially dishes with leafy vegetables. My grandma used to tell me that this removed/neutralized any toxins from the plants.
We add turmeric while the plants are cooking, so it doesn't feel raw to taste.
For cooking fish and meat, we either use it for marinade or while the meat is cooking.

2. A pre-sleep drink mix which is supposed to have detox and lot of skin care benefits.
Milk is boiled with a tbsp of turmeric, almond powder(optional) and saffron (optional). Sugar can be added to make it more palatable.
This is then taken at least 30mins before sleep and almost 1 hour after dinner.
Due to the presence of almond and saffron, this drink is especially given to kids improve health and immunity.


Turmeric has been used in skincare for a long time. Brides from North India and other parts use a mix of Turmeric, Milk and Besan (garbanzo beans flour) as a face pack. This is not just supposed to help with brightening the skin but also to give some immunity against any sun damage.

There may be many ways to use turmeric for skin care, but as I mentioned, I am only detailing what we have used and found to be effective in my family.

One thing to note is, we used 2 types of turmeric.
The regular turmeric was/is used for both cooking and skin care.
But a variant called Kasthuri Manjal or Wild Turmeric or Aromatic Turmeric ( Curcuma aromatica) is preferred for skincare purposes. Note that the Aromatic Turmeric is never used for cooking.

All the below ideas for skin care works with both variants of turmeric but the Aromatic turmeric is more effective.

1. Anti-Tan and Anti-Pigmentation face pack. 
Tropical region means lot of tan and pigmentation for ladies from my region.
My grandma used to grind raw turmeric root and use the paste on face.
It was also supposed to be effective against any acne or pimples popping up.

2. Facial Oil - which is how I use turmeric mostly now
My grandma used to heat coconut oil with pieces of wild turmeric (not too high, just to get the essence of the turmeric to mix in). The oil was then filtered and kept aside and used on face every other day.
This oil was/is typically applied warm-to-touch at least 30 mins before bath and massaged in to the skin so the oil has time to act on skin.
The oil is then washed off during bath.

A point I wish to note is - we never use soap with Turmeric. So to wash off turmeric oil from face, we use either a paste of rice flour or mung bean flour. The flour can be dry rubbed on face gently to remove the oil and turmeric.

Olive oil can be used as a substitute.
I've also used almond or grape-seed oil but in that case, I would mix turmeric powder or turmeric paste without heating the mix.

3. To reduce hair growth on face
I've not used turmeric for this personally but ladies in my family swears by this benefit.
Again, a paste of wild turmeric is used - mixed with a dash of lemon juice and milk and applied as a paste to be left for 15-20mins.
Effects are purported to be permanent on doing this regularly for 3-4 months.

Note: Regular Turmeric especially may leave a yellow tinge on skin after use. The stain from wild turmeric is lesser which is also a reason to use wild turmeric for skin care. The stain is not permanent and usually goes away after a day or so.

This is not a well-researched medically supported article on the many benefits and effects of Turmeric. The contents of this article are merely from a personal experience perspective, not as a recommended set of practices for general public.

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