Life-changing uses for turmeric

If you can only use one spice for the rest of your life, make it turmeric. Its golden, gritty appearance looks intimidating, but it is a gentle, gentle substance. Turmeric hails from India and has been used in Ayurvedic medicine since 500 BCE. It contains an insane amount of antioxidants and also contains anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. Some even say it works better than most over-the-counter medications. Now, we're not saying that turmeric can solve every ailment, but early research shows it may be a promising solution to help with a lot of problems with very few (if any) side effects.

We all know turmeric is a great spice for cooking, with its warm, fragrant flavor profiles. But it it can also hold an important place in your beauty routine. With its anti-inflammatory benefits showing impressive results through both consumption and topical use, turmeric might become the new health product your can't live without. Here are all the uses for the seemingly-magical spice that you need to know about.

Have some golden milk

One of the best ways to integrate turmeric in your health and beauty routine is to ingest it, which is why Golden Milk is one of our favorite beverages. Mix turmeric and honey into heated coconut or almond milk and enjoy! Not only does it taste yummy, but studies show that it helps fight inflammation from the inside out. We swear, it helps us sleep better, too.

It makes a great face mask

There are endless face masks you can make with turmeric, but some of our favorites are simple: turmeric and honey, or turmeric and plain yogurt. Mix into a paste, apply for 15-20 minutes, and rinse. Turmeric is among the list of herbs that have shown to have topical healing properties. Making a facial mask using turmeric can reduce redness and inflammation, ease blemishes, and prevent wrinkles. Pro tip: don't leave it on for too long because it can temporarily tint your skin yellow!

It heals burns

If you've sustained a mild burn, turmeric can save the day. This study demonstrated significant healing when curcumin (a compound found in turmeric) was applied to wounds. Make a paste with turmeric powder and aloe vera gel (without alcohol). Apply to the burn, let sit, and gently rinse. Repeat as needed.

Use it as a dandruff remedy

Since turmeric has amazing anti-inflammatory properties, it's no surprise that it could ease an irritated scalp. Whether you're dealing with dandruff or buildup, a mixture of turmeric and coconut oil can sooth your scalp issues. Mix up a batch, slather it all over your head, and leave it on for 1-3 hours. Rinse with warm water and live a dandruff-free life.

It helps with hair removal

If you're sick of your peach fuzz or have any unwanted facial hair, turmeric can help you get rid of it. Indian women swear by combining turmeric, gram flour, and water into a hair removal paste. When you wash it off, use small circular motions to help remove the hair.

It may work as an acne spot treatment

There is tons of anecdotal evidence online that turmeric can work as an acne-fighter, even though there are studies whose results demonstrate it has no effect. There is even a patent specifically called "turmeric for treating skin disorders". While we can't definitively say whether or not this will work, it seems to be a harmless option to try. If you spy a nasty zit popping up or if you picked at a blemish, mix a pinch of turmeric powder with a little water and apply as a spot treatment. Go to bed, rinse in the morning, and (hopefully) be amazed!

It might help your hangover

A bit of turmeric, mixed with a few other ingredients, becomes a hangover remedy. One morning after drinking the night before, a friend bestowed us a turmeric, ginger, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper shot. And guess what? It helped us bounce back and cured our nausea. There's no science to back this up, so all we've got is anecdotal evidence from our experience, but it's worth noting that it's become a lucrative business in Japan. Go ahead and give it a… shot.

Relieve arthritis pain

Turmeric is not just for face masks and dandruff shampoo. It is a powerful superfood that could help prevent and even treat chronic diseases.

Turmeric contains the compound curcumin, which is responsible for its bright yellow color. This magical little compound makes up only five percent of turmeric, but may be responsible for all of its benefits. Studies have found that curcumin is a powerful anti inflammatory, and that means it can treat a wide variety of diseases.

Because arthritis symptoms come from inflamed joints, curcumin could help. By helping to control the inflammation in arthritis, curcumin could relieve some of the pain and prevent further damage. If you have been suffering from worsening arthritis symptoms, talk with your doctor about incorporating a turmeric extract into your regimen.

Improve your memory

You know that moment when you walk into the store and suddenly forget everything you need? You didn't write it down, because you only needed a couple things, but what were they again? Turmeric could help prevent moments like this.

Recent studies have found that taking a regular dose of turmeric can improve memory. On an even more exciting note, it may even protect brain cells from Alzheimer's disease! More research is needed, but scientists believe that taking turmeric can help to prevent inflammation of the nerve cells, keeping them healthy. Turmeric is also an antioxidant, which prevents our cells from mutating into diseases like Alzheimer's or cancer. In fact in India, where eating turmeric is common, there is a lower prevalence of Alzheimer's disease. So whip up some curry tonight for a better memory tomorrow!

Prevent ulcerative colitis relapses

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition with no known cure. It causes inflammation of the colon, which leads to a whole host of issues for patients. Fortunately, anti-inflammatory turmeric is coming to the rescue. Studies have found that patients with ulcerative colitis who took turmeric everyday were significantly less likely to relapse. Other treatments for ulcerative colitis include powerful medications and surgery, so throwing a little yellow powder into you cooking sounds like a good plan.

Improve your immune system

When everyone in your office starts coughing this winter, don't worry. Just reach for the turmeric. The curcumin in turmeric has been shown to help stimulate our immune cells, helping us fend off disease. Start swapping out your morning coffee for some steaming turmeric milk.

Curcumin has also been shown to prevent the other cells in our body from changing or mutating. This could be helpful for those with allergies, because allergies are simply our immune systems reacting to something in our environment.

Protect your eye health

Taking turmeric everyday may protect our eyes as well. The eye disease uveitis describes a condition where the iris of your eye is inflamed. Ouch! Because the curcumin in turmeric prevents inflammation, it has shown promising results in treating this condition. Taking turmeric may even be as effective as steroids, the typical treatment for uveitis. Because medications like steroids come with a long list of possible side effects, well-tolerated turmeric may be just what the doctor ordered.

Prevent heartburn

Heartburn is a bummer. It's incredibly uncomfortable and seems to be caused or at least exacerbated by some of our favorite treats like coffee and spicy nachos. Fortunately, turmeric could help relieve some of those heartburn symptoms.

"The potent compounds in turmeric also relieve the underlying issues of acid and bile overproduction, thereby promoting benefits to the body instead of painful conditions and helping to produce good bacteria, minimize bad bacteria, and improve the colon's ability to absorb beneficial nutrients," Author of Turmeric for Health Britt Brandon told Reader's Digest.

Chronically taking medication for heartburn has been linked to some serious side effects like developing osteoporosis, so turmeric sounds like a more appealing alternative.

Protect your heart

It seems turmeric can do just about anything — it can even protect you from a dangerous heart attack! A study in the American Journal of Cardiology looked at the effects of turmeric on heart disease. Study participants who were in the hospital for a bypass procedure were given either a curcumin supplement or placebo pill. These patients were already at risk for a heart attack, and researchers found that 30 percent of the patients in the placebo group suffered a heart attack in the hospital. Of the curcumin group, only 13 percent had a heart attack. Turmeric cut their risk for heart attack in half!

You can brew up some turmeric milk or even take a super-concentrated turmeric extract. Talk with your doctor about incorporating turmeric into your everyday routine.

Lower your diabetes risk

A recent study found that taking curcumin in turmeric everyday may help patients with prediabetes from actually being diagnosed with diabetes later on. Patients with prediabetes have some abnormal lab findings and are basically on their way to coming down with diabetes unless they make some major changes. In addition to diet and lifestyle changes, adding a daily turmeric supplement may be helpful.

"Because of its benefits and safety, we propose that curcumin extract may be used for an intervention therapy for the prediabetes population," researcher Somlak Chuengsamarn told Reuters.

More research is needed, so it's always important to talk with your doctor before starting a new daily regimen. "This looks promising, but there are still a lot of questions," Certified Diabetes Educator Constance Brown-Riggs told Reuters. "If I was talking to a patient about this, I'd say concentrate on eating healthy and overall lifestyle."