Turmeric shares a family tree with Ginger, Plai, and Cardamom, as part of the Zingiberaceae family of aromatic rhizomes. The rhizome, or root, has that familiar papery outer skin that when peeled away exposes fragrant flesh. But turmeric’s flesh, unlike ginger’s, is deliciously carrot-orange!

Long used in culinary dishes in the East, Turmeric also has a place in Ayurvedic medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine for its therapeutic actions. In recent years we’ve seen some fascinating studies come out on Turmeric, and of particular interest to the aromatherapy community is the research of Turmeric essential oil for possible uses as an anti-inflammatory for arthritis, as an anti-fungal, in bactericidal applications, and preliminary research suggests further studies would be useful for Turmeric’s anti-cancer applications. Perhaps most fascinating to me is the neuroprotective and neuroregenerative action of Turmeric on the brain and what this might mean for brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Turmeric Chai

When I first started making Turmeric Chai last year I was surprised how warming it was – the sensation was gradual, starting in the belly, and within an hour my cheeks felt pink and I was too warm sitting near the fireplace so I popped outside to cool off. Wowzers! Where was Turmeric when I was shoveling my walkway in Massachusetts? Where was Turmeric when I was downhill skiing in New Mexico?

Unless you’d prefer to share a sweat lodge experience with your co-workers I don’t recommend drinking Turmeric Chai on a hot day in Austin. Save this recipe for one of those days when you’re reaching for your flannel pearl-snap and don’t mind the dog or cat snuggling on your lap with an extra blanket.

Turmeric Chai
In a saucepan whisk together:
2 c. milk (almond, coconut, or cow’s)
1/4 tsp. Turmeric powder or 1/2 tsp fresh grated root
1 Cardamom seed pod
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp. Ginger powder or 1/2 tsp fresh grated root
1/8 tsp. Black Pepper

Remove from heat when warm and add maple syrup or honey, to taste. This strongly anti-inflammatory chai warms and promotes circulation. Not recommended during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

If you’re trying to decide how to add Turmeric into your wellness plan I encourage you to sit down with someone whose life work is to educate folks on the holistic uses of herbs or essential oils. A good community herbalist can help you work out a treatment plan for Turmeric in tincture form or powdered in capsules. A qualified aromatherapist can help you work out a treatment and dosing plan for using the essential oil of Turmeric.

Got a favorite recipe that uses Turmeric? Share the recipe link in a comment, I’d love to read it!