Turmeric is good for you!

Turmeric the Golden Spice

Turmeric the Golden Spice

Growing up in an Indian family, where my grandmother had natural remedies for everything, I always find myself comparing modern medicine to traditional medicines that have been used for thousands of years by our ancestors.

But hang on, don’t get me wrong! I’m not here to tell us all about how traditional medicine is way more natural or modern medicine is based on reliable scientific evidence, while I’m sipping my golden drink at 7 o’clock in the morning!

The Trend & What I’ve Been Exposed To…

Not long ago did this pungent, bitter and yellow powdery spice – Turmeric, catch my attention, as there is so much hype about it everywhere these days!

Traditionally, turmeric is a key spice or ingredient in majority of Indian cooking and grows in abundance in Southeast Asia.

Now when I look back, my grandmother’s Indian dishes never missed out on this golden spice and she used to make me drink a glass of warm turmeric milk every night before bed, as she told me that it was good for inflammation and wound healing. After all, nannas and mammas know best!

And of course, I have seen many Indian weddings, where it is a ceremony in itself that the brides are lathered with turmeric mask for that beautiful bridal glow, a day before their wedding.

The Official Good Side of Gold, Briefly…

So we already know that turmeric has so many health benefits, particularly it’s anti-inflammatory properties, and we also know that there are numerous studies to prove the benefits of this ancient spice. Let’s find out what they are!

Curcumin is the constituent present in turmeric that makes this spice a motive towards research and according to a review article that I found by Gupta et al in 2013, numerous clinical tries have shown the effectiveness of curcumin in treating or reducing symptoms in a lot of human diseases. Out of the extensive list given in the article, the following are a few conditions that I thought are commonly seen in our day-to-day lives and I’m sure would sound familiar to all of us:

  • Osteoarthritis (OA)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Postoperative inflammation – for example after total knee replacement (TKR)
  • Cardiac conditions – acute coronary syndrome & atherosclerosis
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Recurrent respiratory tract infection
  • Various cancers
  • Skin conditions – psoriasis & vitiligo

All of the studies and clinical trials involved the intake of curcumin, either orally in appropriate dosages alone, in conjunction with other medications or as an ointment for topical use, by the participants. Majority of the participants showed significant reduction in symptoms in all of the above categories and more.

A considerable amount of evidence has been shown to prove that curcumin has the ability to alter the cell signaling processes of a lot of inflammatory mediators, thus reducing the symptoms of all these chronic and inflammatory conditions.

There are still a lot of ongoing clinical trials all around the world that were mentioned in this reading, with more number of test subjects, in order to continue to represent the general population that suffer from these conditions.

The Fun & ‘My Kind of’ Stuff…

Apart from the tablet or capsule forms of turmeric that are available in pharmacies and health food stores, how else can we benefit from turmeric in our daily lives? Through food of course! Ahem ahem…. you’re hearing this from the right person! I’m kidding…

Spice Up Your Kitchen!
There are numerous soup, stir-fry, curry, and etc. recipes on the Internet that has turmeric as one of the ingredients to give that delicious flavor and yellow tinge to anything we cook!

#Whisper: Coffee or café lovers alert! I was told that some cafés now serve turmeric lattes!!! (I should tell my Nan about this, she’ll immediately say – I told you so!)

And, lastly, I’m leaving you with this satisfying creamy cup of golden goodness!

Turmeric Spiced Chai

Serves 2 – 4

Ingredients:

  • ½ to 1 tablespoon of loose Indian black tea leaves
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup of milk, almond milk, soy milk or rice milk
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ teaspoon of fresh grated ginger
  • Finally, ½ teaspoon of our star ingredient, ground turmeric!

Preparation:

  • Lightly grind cardamom pods in a mortar using a pestle
  • Pour water into a saucepan and bring to the boil
  • Add the black tea leaves and boil for 30 seconds
  • Add all the spices into the tea mix and stir well
  • Add milk, stir well and bring to boil on medium heat until the golden colour is achieved
  • Pour the tea into a cup over a strainer and serve

Notes:
For those who are not big fans of tea, you can omit it from the recipe
If preferred creamier, use either milks instead of water
If any of the spices are too strong, you can reduce them to liking

Now you know what my cup of golden goodness was this morning!
References:

Gupta SC, Patchva S, Aggarwal BB (2012) Therapeutic Roles of Curcumin: Lessons Learnt from Clinical Trials. American Association of Pharmaceutical Sciences 15 (1): 195-218

Turmeric is good for you!
sporting injuries - do I use ice or heat to treat

What is best for my injury? Ice or Heat?

As physiotherapists we often get asked whether ice or heat is better for an injury. A common theory is that ice should be used in the acute 24-48 hour phase and heat thereafter. I believe this theory to be a good guideline in the instance of sporting type injuries such as ligament sprains. However, when it comes to neck and lower back pain, heat is usually the option I would recommend. From my clinical experience, I find more patients not only respond better to heat for neck and lower back pain, but also feel a reduction in nerve sensitivity with heat compared to ice.

Using ice is great for calming injuries that involve superficial structures like ligaments and tendons, and those that tend to be swollen, red, warm, and inflamed. Some examples where ice is highly recommended include: a sprained ankle or wrist, an acute hamstring muscle strain, Iliotibial (IT) band friction syndrome, and plantar fasciitis. These are injuries where ice usually works best (at least for the initial acute phase).

In contrast, heat works really well to relax muscle spasms and trigger points, while calming the nervous system and allowing blood circulation to increase mobility. Typically, I would recommend heat for conditions such as: osteoarthritis, headaches, neck and back pain. Some will suggest ice for neck and lower back pain, however ice can lead to stiffening of joints and tightening of muscles (think about when you are out on a cold winter day – your body tends to feel more restricted), actually resulting in more discomfort and pain. Heat is particularly good for neck and back pain because it helps settle down and relax the nerves surrounding the spinal area, thus is far more comforting.

The bottom line?
As a guideline, I would typically recommend heat for neck and back pain and ice for pain involving the extremities. However, we know this is not always the case for every injury or every person and which one to use truly depends on what you are trying to achieve (ie. reduce pain, increase range of motion, relax muscles, etc.). Listen to your body and see what feels right – try one and if it doesn’t feel helpful then switch. Everybody is different and will respond a bit differently, so it is all about what is most comforting to YOU and what is helping YOU! If in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask one of your Enhance Physios, or call in to the clinic – we would be more than happy to help over the phone too!

Stef

Womens AFL

Women’s AFL

With the AFL season just around the corner, football hype is starting to ignite again. However, in comparison to previous years, there is something new and exciting happening in the world of AFL; this year marks the inaugural year of the Women’s AFL. Women’s football has been steadily on the rise for the past 10+ years and was bolstered when brought to the public’s attention in 2013 with the first Women’s exhibition match between Western Bulldogs and Melbourne Demons. The teams were made up of players from all over Australia and the game was held at Etihad Stadium prior to the E J Whitten Legends match. Over the next 3 years they continued to hold exhibition matches with the final match between the two exhibition sides televised at the end of 2015.

In 2016 it was announced that there would be a AFLW competition in 2017 comprising of 8 teams (Melbourne Demons, Western Bulldogs, Carlton Blues, Collingwood Magpies, GWS Giants, Brisbane Lions, Adelaide Crows and Fremantle Dockers). The competition began on Feb 3rd with old foes Collingwood and Carlton opening the competition. The game exceeded all expectations both on and off the field; it was a hard hitting, fierce contest with Carlton running out winners after gun forward Darcy Vesico kicked 4 goals. Outside the ground spectators had to be informed by AFL chief Gill McLaughlin that the ground was full to capacity and was in fact a lock out! Television ratings were impressive as well and that trend continued over the weekend.

It is a seven round competition held in conjunction with the NAB cup. Some games have been played as the opener to a JLT cup match whilst others are stand alone matches at local footy grounds. Channel 7 has committed to televising one Saturday night game per week with Fox also televising all of the matches. The final will be played between the top 2 sides at the end of the seven round season and will coincide with round 1 of the mens AFL competition. All games are free (apart from those held as the precursor to a mens match) and I encourage anyone who is interested to get down and watch the girls battle it out (you may be surprised at the intensity/ferocity that the girls show out there as well as their skill and passion for the game).

I myself will be helping out at the Collingwood vs Fremantle match at Bendigo Bank Stadium on the 4th March (in Collingwood colours – which as a Carlton fan is going to be very painful to do!)

This competition just adds to a multitude of women’s sport that is taking off in Australia, in the past few years we have seen the success of the women’s BBL, Netball Australia has become the first female professional sport in Australia (not including tennis), the women’s soccer team got deep into the finals at the World Cup (which succeeded all expectations) and our women were dominate at the 2016 Olympics winning 5 gold medals out of the total 8 won for Australia and who can forget the memorable Melbourne Cup win for Michelle Payne.

Women’s sport is on the rise in Australia and I can’t wait to see what else we achieve in the coming years!

Madi