For some, turmeric is one of the many spices you’ll find in Indian curries. For others, they are praising its almighty powers and drinking it in liquid form.
Personally, I don’t have any beef with turmeric –I use it in rice dishes, soups, stews and curries. It’s a great spice, and adds a beautiful colour and flavour to any dish.
I did want to find out why out of nowhere it became the hottest drink of 2016. I decided to google it and as I’m scrolling I got hit with terms like:
“A remedy for chronic disease”
And my ultimate favourite by a Dr. Oz wannabe:
“10 Turmeric Benefits Superior to Medications”
Back it up… did you say superior to medications? Why is nobody doing anything about this. If turmeric can reverse cancer cell division and cure arthritis, why are we not acting on this? Why are baristas at underground cafes the only ones providing creamy delicious turmeric lattes… Not to hate on baristas, since I used to be one, but I didn’t know their job description included public health responsibilities.
I decided to do some research digging on my own, and turmeric has been studied exhaustively. Not really turmeric, the spice, but more specifically an ingredient found in the spice: Curcumin.
Curcumin is a polyphenol, also known as an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties, which is why so many people praise it as a cancer-protecting super spice. However, the extent of its superpowers is still under scrutiny.
There are a variety of studies looking at the role of curcumin as a therapeutic tool, but a lot of the claims coming from these studies revealed they only used rats as subjects. From a research methods perspective, we cannot rely on rat studies to make concrete nutrition recommendations.
A 2016 systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials looked at the role of turmeric in alleviating symptoms of joint arthritis and found that turmeric did not have a significant impact on treating individuals with those symptoms.
Some literature online stated that turmeric was so magical it could reduce depressive symptoms in patients with major depression. That’s quite a claim. All I found was research with more rats and also a 2016 clinical trial that could not find any evidence to support that claim. More bad news.
Not to be a Debbie Downer but from a clinical trials perspective, the evidence for turmeric being a treatment for all the ails of man, are thin. However, I cannot discount the history of turmeric –it is an ancient spice used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine and for many people, having their parents whip up hot milk and turmeric brings back warm memories of home.
Aside from golden milk being a deliciously creamy latte, we cannot yet say it is the end all of all diseases so please don’t throw back abundant shots of turmeric (I think I just gave a juice bar another flavour idea).
With all this said, don’t let that discourage you from having turmeric in your cupboards. Turmeric is a great spice to season vegetables and meat without having to add salt.
And if you are curious about testing out this creamy milk anecdote, for $6 you can at Toronto Cafes like Nutbar and Offsite. So for now, we wait… I am sure another super spice is right around the corner.