Recently I sold a travel yoga mat to a man who bought it for his partner. Seemingly in his 50s, he was tall and lean with the most amazing posture. He has been using his travel mat for over a 1000 hrs in 8 different countries, so he said, and it is still in pretty good condition. He kicks his days off at 6 am with 2 hrs of yoga, attending classes roughly 3 times a year for adjustments only.
He told me it all started for him with a heart attack. Within a short period of time he ended up going to India to an Ayurvedic clinic near Dharamshala to have a Panchakarma treatment which completely turned his life around and ever since that, no medication was required. Then he says, no no that’s not true. I have cinnamon and turmeric as my medication. My eyes popped. Hey, that’s me! I exclaimed. I also live on those 2 spices. His cardiologist has just given him a big tick and said: "whatever you do man, keep it up".
My fascination with cinnamon started 20 odd years ago in a vegetarian cooking class where I learnt about a physicist who could not accept that medical science had no cure for his cancer and as a result he started his own research into foods and spices. He recommended the usage of cinnamon for sweets and black pepper for savory dishes as something that aids digestion or let's put it this way, slows the decaying process in our guts. They simply buy us time to be able to digest the ingested food before it putrefies.
Recent research has indicated that cinnamon could actually lower one’s blood sugar, triglyceride and cholesterol levels. It may also improve insulin function in type 2 diabetics. Cinnamon is known as a “warming” herb that stimulates circulation and warms hands and feet.
Cinnamon (or Cassia in English, Dalchini in Hindi, Daru-sita or Twak in Sanskrit, Cinnamomum zeylanicum / cassia - Cortex in Latin). Twak means 'skin' or 'bark'; the bark of the cinnamon tree is used in Ayurvedic medicine as a major digestive herb. As a bark protects the tree, cinnamon protects and strengthens the intestines.
It increases healthy appetite, destroys toxins and is a cardiac tonic. It reduces aggravated vata, imparts strength and its flavor suppresses the desire for sugar thus useful in losing weight.
Used for treating colds, sinus congestion, bronchitis, it clears mucus and encourages circulation. As a hot concoction encourages sweating and thus clears toxins in fevers.
Increases digestion, treats flatulence and colic, can be useful in diarrhea, with loose and watery motion, with undigested food in the stool.
It has anti fungal activity and may used in candida and imbalanced intestinal flora.
It treats cold extremities, arthritis, it pushes circulation to the joints. Its warm, dry and light qualities help to clear built up toxicity from the joints. These effects can also be of use in cardiac insufficiency with cold extremities, difficult breathing, fluid accumulation and tiredness.
Its ability to penetrate deep into the tissues coupled with its sweet quality give it an ability to nourish the reproductive system and treat infertility and male impotence.
- with ginger and cardamom it is used against digestive slushiness
- with cardamom, Indian bay leaf (or cloves) is known as trikulu 'the three aromatics' that benefit digestive and respiratory problems.
Only half a teaspoon of cinnamon per day is enough to reap the benefits. So do not forget to add an extra sprinkle of cinnamon to that pancake.
If there was ever one spice that could truly be called medicine it's turmeric, a massive anti-inflammatory compound that puzzlingly appears to work at the fundamental level across most of the body's systems. It's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action makes it a potent protector against cancers and ageing free radicals. It also improves brain function and lowers risk of heart disease, Alzheimer's and depression.
Turmeric (in English, Haldi in Hindi, Haridra in Sanskrit, Curcuma longa - Rhizoma in Latin). The indisputable wonder spice of the modern age. Haridra literally means 'yellow' and its strong yellow colour signifies its use as a liver herb that is good at drying dampness and moving stagnation in the blood.
It has a 'scraping' property, en-kindles the digestive fire, used in anemia, a blood purifier, alleviates fever, fights toxins, complexion enhancer, removes skin diseases, stops itching, heals broken bones, useful in clearing stagnation from the head, purifies breast milk.
Just be aware it should be consumed heated with fats and / or black pepper to enhance its bio availability.
- small amounts (1:10) of black or long pepper enhances the anti inflammatory activity.
- with ginger, licorice and cloves used for sore throat and fever.
Turmerix is a ready made product on the market that combines turmeric with pepper to make it more bio available. Athletes take it to overcome injuries and train harder.
Adaptogens is the name given to group of plant foods that are thought to have anti-stress role in the body. Not surprisingly turmeric is one of them. They now can be found in most of the supplementary products. However all nutritional literature point to the whole food being more beneficial for health as opposed to the concentrated supplement. Try to go for the entire food rather than a tablet.
So when it comes to adding turmeric to your daily wellness regimen, definitely don’t be afraid to include it in your diet. If you’re an Indian food lover like me, that shouldn’t be too hard. And who knows, maybe you will like the Golden Milk latte too which has it all (cinnamon, turmeric and black pepper).
Golden Milk latte:
1 1/2 cups milk of your choice
3/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch ground black pepper
Agave syrup or some other sweetener to taste