Here, David Frawley sings the praises of what is likely, even now, to be an esteemed member of your very own spice-rack:
If I had only a single herb to depend upon for all possible health and dietary needs, I would without much hesitation choose the Indian spice turmeric.
For some of the details, have a look at Turmeric: The Golden Goddess, an excellent article which — from an Ayurvedic and western scientific perspective — offers a comprehensive glimpse of all the tricks turmeric has up its sleeve.
For these reasons and more, turmeric joins extra-virgin coconut oil, chia seeds, matcha and chlorella as what, in my humble opinion, are “must-haves” for your health-conscious kitchen.
Turmeric In Chinese Medicine
In terms of Chinese herbal medicine, turmeric belongs to the category of herbs that regulate/rectify the blood, and is utilized in two forms: Yu Jin (the tuber, i.e. thick part of the root) and Jiang Huang (the rhizome, i.e. thin part of the root).
Both Jiang Huang and Yu Jin are acrid and bitter in taste. The two differ, however, both in temperature (Yu Jin is cold; Jiang Huang, warm) and channels entered (Yu Jin enters the Heart, Lung & Liver; Jiang Huang the Spleen, Stomach and Liver). The actions of both include moving qi and breaking up blood stasis — and so are commonly used to resolve pain that is a result of either blood or qi stagnation.
Turmeric In Herbal Pain Relief Formulas
What can be fun to notice is that many herbal remedies available today utilize herbs that are part of the Chinese Materia Medica—even if they’re not advertised as such.
Let’s take a look at just one example—Curica Pain Relief, produced by Nature’s Way—which claims to “naturally relieve pain and stiffness due to overexertion, strain or exercise.” It’s a product that’s intended as an herbal alternative to aspirin or Ibuprofen—both of which (as I imagine you already know) can have some gnarly gastrointestinal side-effects.
Curica is comprised of three ingredients:
- Turmeric (Curcuma longa);
- White Willow Bark (Salix alba); and
- Boswellia Gum (aka Frankincense Resin).
All three of these belong to the Chinese Materia Medica. The variety of turmeric used is the Chinese herb Jiang Huang. White willow bark is Bai Li Pi. And Boswellia/Frankincense Resin is Ru Xiang.
White willow bark — Bai Li Pi (for which haven’t yet created a glossary entry) — contains the naturally-occurring chemical from which aspirin is derived. Not surprisingly, then, Bai Li Pi offers many of the same biochemical actions as aspirin, e.g. to relieve pain and lower fevers — and is infinitely more friendly to your stomach.
As mentioned above, Jiang Huang has the power to resolve aches and pains that are the result of blood stasis or stagnant qi, or that are caused by wind-damp painful obstruction.
Like Jiang Huang, Ru Xiang—Frankincense Resin—stops pain by promoting the movement of qi and blood. It also is sometimes used topically, on ulcerations or wounds, since it has the power to “promote healing” by “generating flesh.”
Herbal Medicine Aesthetics
Personally, I find the combination of the three substances—the root-spice turmeric, the bark of a white-willow tree, and the fragrant and exotic Frankincense resin—to be a very beautiful one, somehow deeply aesthetically pleasing.
That aside, their healing powers are undeniable …. so next time you’re reaching for an aspirin or Ibuprofen, consider substituting (or adding) Curica Pain Relief—and see what happens!