The word on everyone’s lips right now is turmeric, or in Indonesia, it is known as Kunyit. This magical root, a member of the ginger family, is attributed with miraculous, almost unbelievable powers. Everything comes under its benign influence, from curing cancer to erasing wrinkles and improving both body and brain function. It is said to increase wellness, reduce aching joints, slow down Alzheimers, increase mobiltity in the body and just about every other thing you could wish for.
While it has been used in India for thousands of years, and is responsible for giving curries that distinctive yellow colour, yet it is only lately, that science is catching up with what the wise ones have known forever, and actually admitting to its power. Even while it is the curcimin that is the powerful active ingredient, it is only about 3% of the turmeric plant, so a lot of people turn to supplements which have already extracted the active ingredients. But even so, the luscious golden elixir is still the best way to take it.
For many years, the Jamu women (selling herbal elixirs) from Central Java have been plying their trade all over Java and much of Bali, and taking a daily herbal tonic is nothing new in this country. It is part of a way of life. But while it is only one of a series of herbs or spices used in traditional Indonesian medicine, turmeric is the one gaining all the notoriety.
But now the new agers and the health conscious visitors are onto it and its popularity has exploded. Restaurants, coffee shops, warungs and health food stores all sell versions of this luscious drink and to not at least try it, would be downright churlish.
It is said to improve your complexion, cure cancer, arthritis, anti inflammatory (you can throw out your Ibuprofin), and is also a strong antioxidant.
In the meantime, discussions continue about whether it should be taken cooked, or raw, or whether black pepper or coconut oil needs to be added to enhance the absorption. Everyone has their own favourite recipe and while the cooked version is definitely better, it is probably good whichever way its‘s good.
So while it is well touted as an anti inflammatory, what does this mean? Well inflammation of our body, our system, can be a main cause for cancer, heart disease, even Alzheimers Disease and various degenerative conditions. So by fighting inflammation, with a better, more effective way than ibuprofen, we are embracing wellness.
Another great benefit, apart from stimulating our brain functions, and improving memory, and slowing down brain degeneration, is that it increases the antioxidant capacity of our body, which is one of the main causes of ageing and many diseases. By neutralising the free radicals, it stimulates our bodies defences. Rheumatoid arthritis? Turmeric is touted to be more effective than most anti-inflammatory drugs on the market.
Amazingly, it is also said to be a remedy for depression and can hold its own against such mind altering chemicals like Prozac!!!
So all in all, I am convinced that we need to get into the turmeric. While in Bali, you can find it in many restaurants, it is easy enough to prepare in your own kitchen.
Just get a grater, and a supply of nice juicy turmeric roots (add ginger too if you like) and start grating, or better still pop it into the food processor and mush it.
Then mix with water and boil slowly for from 20 to 40 minutes.
Add some lime-juice, as you turn off the heat and watch it change to its characteristic golden colour. Add some honey to make it even more palatable, and drink as much as you feel able.
Excuse me, I am going to go make some right now!