By Janet Colston
We all currently find ourselves dealing with Coronavirus, the first global pandemic of most of our lives and ever changing uncertainty around the economy and our individual futures. Each country has issued their own response to the outbreak. While many individuals are thinking about their own health and wondering what they can do to be as healthy as possible.
Disclaimer: We are not doctors and do not prescribe this blog as a medicinal alternative to bona fide medical advice. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
TURMERIC – Native to Asia, Curcuma longa is a member of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae, used in India for over 5000 years for wide ranging medicinal properties.
Antioxidant, Anti-microbial, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-cancer, cardiovascular protectant
Turmeric is an Asian spice most often associated with the yellow colouring in curry. Recent media reports hail turmeric as a ‘superfood’ with benefits to human health, in particular its ability to fight cancer cells . However, the Mayo clinic advise more research is needed to provide unequivocal evidence in the clinic.
The active chemical in the rhizome is a polyphenol, curcumin . Healthy diets supplemented with curcumin have been shown to boost the immune system due to powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties . This may provide relief in disease states like cancer and diabetes   in addition to neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases .
Reaching active levels in cells
Bioavailability of turmeric on its own is poor but it is vastly improved when combined with piperine from black pepper to create a curcumin complex . The complex reduces oxidative stress in cells by increasing circulatory levels of superoxide dismutase  thereby neutralising damaging free radicals and reducing inflammation, particularly promising in alleviating symptoms in osteoarthritis .
Boosting the immune system of Type II Diabetics – another group vulnerable to Covid-19
There is substantial evidence to show curcuminoids can decrease blood glucose and improve insulin resistance by reducing serum free fatty acids and increasing fatty acid oxidation that may be hugely beneficial to people with type 2 diabetes . This is another vulnerable group identified by the CDC who should avoid contracting Covid-19.
Staying healthy and keeping the bodies’ immune system in the best shape possible can help ward off more severe effects from disease and help the body fight viruses.
How do you use turmeric?
Fresh turmeric root, like fresh ginger root, one needs to peel away the thin inedible skin. One will then find an electric orange flesh. Fresh turmeric delivers a peppery essence. Best used in things like juices, smoothies, and stocks. Dried turmeric is often less potent and is a good way to add immediate color and enhanced earthiness to meats, rice, or even eggs.
How do you grow turmeric?
Growing Turmeric can be challenging but only as it is a large plant requiring a hot environment. The rhizomes can be induced to ‘sprout’ leaves by sitting in damp nutrient rich soil under a heat lamp. Turmeric is very easy to grow in hydroponics using coconut fibre between 77 to 86oF. Have a gander at Robs’ entertaining aquaponics video demonstrating the space required to grow this large crop.
Janet Colston PhD is pharmacologist with an interest in growing ‘functional’ foods that have additional phytonutrients and display medicinal qualities that are beneficial to human health. She grows these using a range of techniques including plant tissue micropropagation and controlled environmental agriculture to ensure the highest quality control.