As I have discussed in several earlier articles, turmeric comes from the curcuma longa genus and belongs to the same family as ginger. It grows perennially especially in tropical regions such as Southern Asia. This plant reaches 5-6 feet in height and has trumpet-shaped flowers that are dull yellow. The roots have bulbs from which grow rhizomes. These rhizomes then produce the roots and stems of new plants. The roots and bulbs are often boiled and dried before being ground in turmeric powder. Turmeric has a sharp and bitter taste and is mostly known as a spice that is often added to flavor Indian curries.
Turmeric has been used in Asian cuisine and medicine for centuries to treat various conditions. Recent studies have focused on the benefits turmeric offers to fight infections, reduce inflammation, and treat some cancers, digestive, liver problems and such. Since it possesses anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, turmeric has also been used for thousands of years to treat various skin diseases and heal wounds.
Turmeric is available as an ingredient in ointments, capsules, tincture and fluid extracts. There are many ways that turmeric can be used as home remedies to treat various skin conditions. The purpose of this post is to provide information on how turmeric can be used for skin.
Turmeric Benefits for the Skin
Topical turmeric ointments, lotions, creams and masks can help reduce localized inflammation caused by acne, psoriasis, eczema and burns. It has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that help treat wounds and hasten healing, therefore preventing spread of infection. Turmeric and aloe vera combine to make a soothing paste for sunburned skin. It can also help bruising of the skin. There are chemicals in turmeric that can decrease the swelling or inflammation and redness caused by various skin conditions.
Skin Cancer: Some research studies suggest that skin cancer patients can benefit by applying turmeric ointment for it can relieve itching and odor caused due to this condition. Turmeric contains curcumin that has anti-oxidant properties. This can slow the progress of skin, esophageal and breast cancer cells.
Psoriasis: This skin disorder results in inflammation and scaling. It is a chronic skin condition and needs long-term treatment. Turmeric can help with psoriasis for it has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Those with psoriasis can ensure they add turmeric in their daily cooking. This can be in tea, milk, curries, stews, roast vegetables, eggs or as a general seasoning. As a nighttime soothing treatment for psoriasis, mix turmeric powder with purified water and apply to inflamed areas. Leave this for a few minutes and wash off. Take 500mg of turmeric supplements daily. Drink warm milk or honey mixed with turmeric everyday.
Eczema: Eczema is a chronic skin condition that develops often in childhood and continues to adulthood sometimes. It causes inflamed, itchy and red skin that is covered by scales or crusts. Turmeric can help improve these symptoms of eczema. Turmeric can help with reducing inflammation and healing of the crusts and scales caused by eczema. Your dermatologist will recommend the best way to use turmeric to ease symptoms of eczema.
Acne: Acne is one of the most common skin conditions that affect millions of people worldwide. Inflammatory acne can ruin one’s appearance and can affect work and social life. Home remedies using turmeric can benefit acne. There are pastes and masks using turmeric, which when applied to acne affected areas can provide relief. Turmeric has the potential to kill the P.acnes bacteria that cause acne and reduce the amount of oil produced by the sebaceous glands. Its anti-oxidant properties also treat acne.
Dry, Allergic Skin: Dry skin is caused due to excessive usage of medicated soaps and cosmetics, the sun and wind. When skin becomes dry, it feels rough and can even develop cracks. These cracks will begin to itch. Itching can lead to sores and bleeding. Allergic skin reactions can be caused by allergens in plants or chemicals, food or certain medications. Severe allergies must be referred to your doctor immediately. For mild skin allergies and dry skin, your doctor could recommend turmeric ointment to be applied on the cracked skin. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that relieve swelling, inflammation and redness. Wounds heal faster and itchiness reduces with a topical application of turmeric.
Ways to use turmeric for the skin
There are various ways you can use turmeric for skin health. Here are a few popular ones, if you need any more details on thenm these are discussed under various other various other articles on the site.
Masks: Turmeric masks help to rejuvenate the skin and treat acne, eczema, rosacea and psoriasis. It can reduce the incidences of pimples, redness, itchiness and inflammation, which are the different symptoms that these skin conditions cause. This is a basic recipe using turmeric, which can benefit your skin: Add 4 tbsp turmeric powder to 1 tbsp milk and 4 tbsp raw honey to form a smooth paste. Apply this to clean and dry skin, leave for 20 minutes and wash off. As an alternate, you can mix turmeric with olive or sesame oil in sufficient quantities to make a paste.
Tea: Apart from tasting delicious, turmeric tea offers many health benefits especially in reducing instances of Alzheimer’s disease. Since it has anti-oxidant properties, turmeric tea could also help improve the appearance of your skin. To make a simple cup of turmeric tea, take 4 cups of water and boil it. To this add 1 tsp turmeric powder and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and add lemon or honey according to your taste. This tea can be brewed using powder or freshly ground turmeric using the turmeric root. Add ginger to provide additional flavor.
Milk: Turmeric milk provides a natural cure for many ailments. It is safe to use and delicious to drink. It can fight free radicals that damage the skin and cause it to lose glow and elasticity. This is due to the anti-oxidant properties that turmeric possesses. Turmeric combined with milk can also make a soothing lotion to reduce redness of the skin or patches caused by different skin conditions.
For a basic recipe to make turmeric milk, take ½ to 1 inch turmeric and boil it for 15 minutes in 8 oz milk. Strain this and drink after it cools. Add low-fat milk if you are prone to upset stomachs. Honey or ginger can be added to this for a different flavor.
Precautions while using turmeric for skin
Apart from staining of the skin and clothes, turmeric does not produce any side effects when used on the skin. When taken internally, excess of turmeric can cause diarrhea or nausea. Pregnant or breastfeeding women must not ingest turmeric for it can stimulate the uterus. Others who are due to have surgery must avoid turmeric for it is an anti-coagulant. Those who have gallbladder problems or are taking anti-coagulants or anti-platelet drugs must inform their doctor for turmeric supplements can interact with them. Overall, turmeric does not produce any adverse reaction with any food.
Turmeric that was originally used only in Indian kitchens and as an ingredient in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine is now gaining popularity in the Western world for the many benefits it offers to treat various skin conditions. Even those who do not have any of the above ailments can benefit from the medicinal properties that this ‘Indian Saffron’ possesses to halt aging, rejuvenate skin and enjoy glowing healthy skin.
And, as I always keep saying, 1) make sure the turmeric powder you purchase is pure and preferably organic, free of pesticides. 2) while applying turmeric on skin do a patch test.
If you have used turmeric for skin disorders, please share your thoughts using comments or just email me! I would love to hear them.