Based on the above definition by Merriam-Webster, pretty much everything we come into contact with in modern day society is inflammatory; Our food, our water, our air, the products we clean our homes and bodies with… just about everything in our modern environment has been made in a way that it negatively effects the human body. Inflammation is impossible to avoid completely unless you live in a bubble.
Evolutionarily speaking, inflammation was a great development that allowed us to survive as a species. The body has a great defense system. When our bodies encounter a “foreign attack” (think viruses, bacteria, injury, or toxins), the immune system sends out first responders; inflammatory cells and cytokines (to make more inflammatory cells). These soldiers begin an inflammatory response to trap the offending invader and kickstart the healing processes of the body. There are physical symptoms such as pain, redness, swelling or bruises but inflammation also effects systems that go unseen.
In the case of acute inflammation like a sprained ankle, a cut or appendicitis this is how the body was made to work. The biggest problems occur when the body continues to make these cells when there is no outside danger. This is called chronic inflammation and is the primary cause of just about every auto-immune disease out there. Rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s, most cancers, Heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, Crohn’s disease…the list is endless. Some signs of chronic inflammation are: Abdominal pain, Chest pain, Fatigue, Fever, Joint pain or stiffness, Mouth sores, & Skin rashes just to name a few.
Personally, I had 4 separate auto-immune disorders and my quality of life was a complete nightmare until I started addressing the root cause of my inflammation. The more I studied, the more changes I made in my diet, in what I brought into my home, in what I used for personal hygiene. However, the more I researched the more I realized, no matter what I did, that modern life was rife with exposure to environmental toxins that cause inflammation. I started looking into ways to mitigate the exposure that I couldn’t avoid. There 2 ways that continued to come up over and over again. The first one was eating foods that were, not only nutritious and authentic, but also had anti-inflammatory properties contained in them. The second was the beautiful Ayurvedic trifecta of Tulsi (Holy Basil), Ashwaganda root and Turmeric.
The top inflammatory foods are berries, fatty fish (think Omega 3s), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, et al), avocados, peppers, green tea, mushrooms, grapes, turmeric, olive oil, dark chocolate made from cacao, tomatoes and cherries. The Ayurvedic system of healing has existed for thousands of years and is an amazing wealth of herbal and food-as-medicine knowledge. Ayurvedic herbs like turmeric, ashwagandha, and tulsi are used for many reasons: to maintain overall health; to boost immunity; to support mental clarity and focus; to calm the nerves; to improve digestion; to protect the body from toxins and support the detoxification process; and to support innate healing processes.
When I first began studying herbs to get off my ever-growing list of medications, the first to go was narcotic pain meds, as they were causing the greatest harm. However, suffering from RA, OA and fibromyalgia, it was a scary proposition. I began taking an inflammation tincture from the farmers market and it really helped but it was expensive to maintain as Medicare wasn’t paying for it and I was on disability. I tried turmeric in many forms, capsules, golden milk and, for a while, I settled on a long decoction for fresh grated turmeric root preserved with honey. As I eliminated exposure in my diet and environment, coupled with movement and herbs, I got better and better. Over time, I made and added in a combination tincture of Ashwaganda root and Tulsi because everything I researched supported their reputation for good overall health. I still see my rheumatologist once a year to check in. His credentials and training restrict him from telling me I am cured but he definitely has me labeled as in deep remission. Remember, I am not a doctor and I do not give medical advice. I am simply sharing my experience so that you may make more informed choices about what may work for you.
Lately, as I have been working more and under more stress, I noticed my pain increasing (I do spend my weekends carrying heavy things and I am over 50… so there’s that!) I decided to go looking for new ways to incorporate turmeric into my diet and I found an amazing recipe from Thailand. It’s called Jamu juice. It is a fresh ginger & turmeric juice that packs a whollop of support to your immune system! The best part is it can be made in about 30 minutes and stays good in the fridge for a week. I made some yesterday and it is delicious!
A few notes about turmeric and the bioavailability of curcumin (the active ingredient):
- If you are going for milligrams of curcumin for inflammation support. Fresh turmeric root is always the best way to go. It can be ordered online and shipped and grows well in a greenhouse.
- Remember that fresh root is approximately 3% curcumin by weight so you can calculate out how much you need for your desired mg/day (it took me a few hours to figure it out so if you need the math laid out you can find my downloadable pdf at the bottom of the post).
- Curcumin is NOT water soluble, it requires fat to be absorbed but fat in juice just sounds gross, so I highly recommend consuming the juice with something that has good healthy fat in it. (I drink it first thing in the morning with coconut oil added to my coffee)
- Also, curcumin requires the presence of berberine to be fully bioavailable to your body which is why it is almost always formulated with black pepper in the recipes.
Here is the recipe for Jamu Juice that I used as a guide. I adjusted it for personal taste and curcumin requirements to arrive at this recipe which provides approximately 1000mg a serving of curcumin. Curcumin content is measured by weight so you will get a more accurate dose when the recipe is done by weight.
7 servings of 8 oz each
Time to make: 30 minutes
- 8.25 oz fresh organic turmeric root, sliced thin
- 1.3 oz fresh organic ginger root, sliced thin
- 6.5 cups of 100% coconut water no pulp (you can use regular water but I like the extra electrolytes in coconut water)
- 2 pinches of ground black peppercorn
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Honey to taste (I used about a third of a cup)
- Add ginger, turmeric, coconut water and black pepper to a high speed blender and process for about a minute until smooth.
- Add mixture to a pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Add lemon juice and honey. Stir until dissolved.
- Strain into a glass bottle through a nut milk bag or cheese cloth to remove the solids. Allow to cool before capping and refrigerating.
- Enjoy daily either over ice or as it. I honestly thought about summer Jamu slurpees this morning as the hot season is on its way here soon!
It is really that simple and delicious. I love when things that are good for me and fit in so perfectly with my busy lifestyle. I hope this helps some of you in simplifying and demystifying the whole turmeric inflammation connection. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out through either our website or social media.
I hope you have an amazing week!