Turmeric: It’s Important To Me
Golden paste and turmeric aren’t just health supplements to me, they’re my passion. Ever since I read my first journal article about five years ago, I’ve been fascinated by the connection that traditional medicine can have to modern scientific direction. Ancient medicinal practices influence research more than many people would think, and I believe that turmeric is playing a unique role in fostering understanding of traditional theories of healing.
A Smidge of History
Since recorded history, different theories of medicine have been espoused by physicians. Starting with Hippocrates, Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine and continuing through the Medieval era and the Industrial Revolution, we’re fortunate enough that the fundamental principles and practices of historical medicine have been made available to us. Looking back on this rich tapestry, it becomes obvious that there is a great deal of contradiction and reformation in the history of Western medicine. It is extremely rare that diseases are treated the same way hundreds of years apart by practitioners from Western Europe and its colonies, however Traditional systems of medicines have survived almost untouched – with similar treatments being prescribed for not just hundreds, but thousands of years (although in some cases, such as Ayurveda, much knowledge was lost due to the influence of colonial Western powers).
Traditional medicines often include a structure or theory that outlines how the constitution of a person influences their health through their life and how maintaining balance by countering the stressful elements found in nature can prevent and reverse disease. This understanding is almost always present in most traditional medicine forms that have lasted more than a few hundred years.
Over the many incarnations of Western medicine, there have been dozens of theories about how the body functions on a molecular levels. Humoral theory, vital theory, the rise of chemical medicine and germ theory were all hailed as truth in their day, however as newer science displaced them their shine has tarnished to become rusted and obsolete. There’s nothing as sobering as to look back and see all the mistakes which well-meaning physicians have made.
A Dash of Science
There is no doubt that the rise of Western medicine has brought with it sweeping, amazing change, even through the dark times. But are we coming to the beginning of a new cycle of scientific knowledge? I certainly believe so. As we begin to invest in understanding the importance of genetics, the microbiome, inflammation and oxidative stress we’re coming to an understanding of how the body actually works that is eerily similar to the principles of traditional medicine systems. We’re returning to our roots and rhizomes, literally.
This is where turmeric comes in. Turmeric contains phytochemicals that reverse oxidative stress, prevent inflammation and change the balance of the microbiome. It has the ability to influence the expression of our genes. Curcumin has the ability to adjust the brain’s response to stress and is a preventative against cancer. It’s not a panacea for all disease, far from it. It’s a general tonic, a balancer and a preventative medicine.
History + Science = Knowledge
And so I believe that turmeric is helping us come full circle – from the earliest memory of humanity turmeric has been hailed as a tri-doshic herb that is useful in many circumstances and is a general tonifying herb. And as Western science and medicine reaches its highest evolution, we’re finally able to respect the traditional uses of turmeric because we have discovered pharmacological mechanisms of action that don’t just tell us that turmeric works, they tell us why it works. For the first time, we can truly understand what the ancients were talking about.
I’m sure that as we continue to learn more about other herbs from a scientific perspective we’ll start to understand the words of the ancients more and more. For now, however, turmeric is the first and best example of this evolution. It’s bringing people together in a way that I love and admire, in a gorgeous harmony of yellow and orange.
Yours in Good Health,