- Fights inflammation.
- Acts as an antioxidant.
- Protects the heart.
- Helpful for arthritis.
- Helpful for those with diabetes and cancer.
- The lists keeps going…
One thing you maybe didn’t know though, is that turmeric is also very healing for those with autoimmune issues, and thyroid conditions like Hashimoto’s. The great thing is that turmeric is a FOOD, and you can use it in your daily cooking in a wide variety of ways.
Most people understand how with medicine, very small particles can have a profound impact on the human physiology. There are many other substances that are natural that have AS profound of an effect, like that of turmeric. The switch from thinking that allopathic medicine, specifically pharmacology, being the only way to produce a massive change in the body, to the recognition that foods are equally powerful, is a paradigm shift we are currently working our way through as a culture.
My goal as a functional medicine doctor is to help facilitate this shift. One of the ways I do this is educating all my clients on the power of natural healing, and today we talk about turmeric!
History of Turmeric
Turmeric is a plant that is native to primarily India. Most people think of turmeric as synonymous with curry, and Indian food, which is quite accurate. The botanical name for turmeric is Curcuma longa and it is part of the ginger family.
Historically, turmeric has been used to treat stomach and liver ailments, as well as general pain in the body. Topically it has been used to treat sores, skin rashes, eczema, and other skin conditions.
In India today, turmeric is seen as sacred and is used as part of Ayurvedic medicine, which is a natural healing system thousands of years old.
How Turmeric Can Help Hashimoto’s
The main healing attribute that we find in turmeric is its ability to fight inflammation. Here are 3 ways we can say turmeric assists people with Hashimoto’s:
- Fights Inflammation: Inflammation is one of the key factors in Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and we find inflammation present in 100% of cases. Turmeric is a very strong anti-inflammatory.
- Heals excess intestinal permeability: Intestinal permeability has been found as a common factor in every case of autoimmunity. Turmeric helps close the small gaps found in the intestine, which helps reduce inflammation further.
- Detoxifies heavy metals: In some cases, people with Hashimoto’s may also have heavy metal toxicity. Turmeric has been found to be a key player in detoxifying heavy metals.
The main active ingredient is curcumin and has been shown through research not only to have anti-inflammatory benefits, but also has shown significant antioxidant, antibacterial, and antiviral activity.
Studies on the Effects of Curcumin
Many studies have looked at the effect of curcumin on the thyroid and autoimmunity. Results of some of these studies include:
- Curcumin can heal leaky gut.
- According to a 2014 study in the journal Food Chemistry and Toxicology; “Curcumin reduces the hepatotoxicity induced by arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, and mercury, prevents histological injury, lipid peroxidation, and glutathione (GSH) depletion, maintains the liver antioxidant enzyme status and protects against mitochondrial dysfunction.”
- Curcumin shows tumor inhibiting activity in thyroid cancer.
- Curcumin was protective against the genetic damage and side effects induced by radioactive iodine that is sometimes used to treat Graves’ disease.
- Curcumin has anti-inflammatory benefits that can be helpful in down-regulating autoimmune conditions. Curcumin has been found to reduce joint inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, it seems to have therapeutic effects, showing improvement in Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome.
In a recent survey of 2232 people with Hashimoto’s, 50% reported it was helpful, 64% reported a reduction in pain, 35% reported an increase in energy, and 12.5% showed improvement in thyroid antibodies.
How to Use Turmeric/Curcumin
One interesting characteristic about curcumin is that it is cleared from the body within about an hour. However, there is a way to make it persist for longer. Simply combine black pepper with it! Whenever you cook with turmeric, just add black pepper, and not only will it stick around longer, you will also be absorbing more of the turmeric.
In addition, you can add a high-quality supplement to get the right dosage. Look for supplements that have added black pepper (piperine). Curcumin appears to be extremely safe, even at doses of up to 8 grams/day.
Cooking with Turmeric – Tandoori Chicken Recipe
If you don’t have a grill, you can broil the chicken for a few minutes on each side to get some browning, then finish in a 325°F oven until done.
- 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 Tbsp garam masala
- 1 Tbsp sweet (not hot) paprika
- 1 cup plain yogurt (can sub buttermilk)
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 4 minced garlic cloves
- 2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 whole chicken legs (drumsticks and thighs), or its equivalent, skinless, bone-in
1 Heat the spices in oil: Heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat, then cook the coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, garam masala, and paprika, stirring often, until fragrant (approximately 2-3 minutes). Let cool completely.
2 Whisk into yogurt, add lemon juice, garlic, salt, ginger: Whisk in the cooled spice-oil mixture into the yogurt, then mix in the lemon juice, garlic, salt, and ginger.
3 Cut deep slashes into the chicken, coat with marinade, chill: Cut deep slashes (to the bone) in 3-4 places on the leg/thigh pieces. Just make 2-3 cuts if you are using separate drumsticks and thighs. Coat the chicken in the marinade, cover and chill for at least an hour (preferably 6 hours), no more than 8 hours.
4 Prepare grill: Prepare your grill so that one side is quite hot over direct heat, the other side cooler, not over direct heat. If using charcoal, leave one side of the grill without coals, so you have a hot side and a cooler side. If you are using a gas grill, just turn on one-half of the burners.
Use tongs to wipe the grill grates with a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil.
5 Shake off excess marinade, place chicken on the hot side of the grill: Take the chicken out of the marinade and shake off the excess. You want the chicken coated, but not gloppy.
Put the chicken pieces on the hot side of the grill and cover. Cook 2-3 minutes before checking.
Turn the chicken so it is brown (even a little bit charred) on all sides
6 Move to cool side of grill, cover and cook: Move chicken to the cool side of the grill. Cover and cook for at least 20 minutes, up to 40 minutes (or longer) depending on the size of the chicken and the temperature of the grill. The chicken is done when its juices run clear.
Let it rest for at least 5 minutes before serving. It’s also great at room temperature or even cold the next day.
Serve with naan, an Indian flatbread, or with rice, with yogurt-based raita on the side.