Scientists are studying turmeric and discovering more and more remarkable properties of this spice. In many instances, the scientific studies are validating what was passed on by generations of practice, repeated by grandma’s in India and labelled as Grandma’s wisdom. The earlier blog post (link here) details the two most essential ingredients of a Sattvic kitchen. Here are some tips to establish a sattvic pantry.
A Puzzling Phenomenon
When I was a student at Pondicherry, I came across a puzzling phenomenon. Every time I went out in the sun, my skin tanned. At the same time, I noticed that Ponchalai, a native woman who worked in our department did not get tanned at all. At first, I thought it was because she was native. I noticed that we both had the same skin tone, yet I was affected a lot more than her. One day, when we went for a coffee break, I asked her the secret.
She smiled and whispered, “Manjal, Akka.”
Manjal, is turmeric in Tamil language. I was struck by the straight forward answer. Ponchalai’s face was indeed covered with turmeric every day. She said she put it on her face when she took bath. When she went home and washed her face it would still be glowing.
Turmeric for Sunburn
A few months later, another French student at Pondicherry I worked with, had a large patch of sunburn on her shoulder. I suggested she make a paste of coconut oil and turmeric and apply it on her shoulder. She followed the suggestion, mainly because it was a Friday and her doctor would be available only on Monday. Her sunburn healed well within 2 days. She always greeted with a smile and a warm handshake after that.
The sunlight has rays of many different energies or wavelengths. Solar light is essential for life on Earth. It gives energy and is required to synthesize Vitamin D. Sunburn is caused by the radiation energy of the sun rays. This video explains how sunburn is caused.
Many people use sunscreen to block the harmful effects of the sun. Sunscreen is made of a cocktail of toxic chemicals. The chemicals are easily absorbed by our skin and enters our blood stream. From there, it starts accumulating in the liver as liver filters the blood flowing in our body. Sunscreens have become the leading cause of skin cancer! It is far better to wear loose, long sleeved clothes, rather than spray chemicals on your skin.
This short video gives you the information about sun rays and the harms of using chemical sunscreens.
How does turmeric work?
Turmeric is a storehouse of several powerful chemicals. Read this blogpost to understand some of the benefits of turmeric. In addition to all these properties, turmeric also offers protection from the harmful effects of the sun by supporting DNA repair. It also has anti-microbial, antioxidant and anti-cancer property. When skin is exposed to the sun, the Ultraviolet rays in the sun cause a reaction in the skin. This reaction produces COX-2 enzyme. In the presence of curcumin, an active ingredient found in turmeric, the production of COX-2 enzymes is blocked. The study also found that use of curcumin prior to ultraviolet exposure protects skin from ageing and reduces inflammation of the skin.
This scientific finding directly applies to the secret of Ponchalai’s morning routine. She applied turmeric early in the morning, before leaving home. Applying turmeric prior to exposure to the sun protects your skin from severe radiation damage. This protected her skin from any side effects due to the exposure to the sun and gave her the soft, glowing skin. Seasonal variation in ultraviolet light was also noted and practices were enforced in song or proverbs. My grandmother used to sing this verse in Tamil—
Aaadi chevvai Thaechhu Kuli
Aracha Manjal Pooschi Kuli
Rough translation means: On this Tuesday in month of Aaadi scrub yourself well and apply ground turmeric when you shower.
Here is the verse in Tamil Script
ஆடி செவ்வாய் தேச்சுக் குளி
அரைச்ச மஞ்சள் பூசிக் குளி
Aadi masam in Tamil calendar falls in July-August.
Make your own sunblock
Here is the recipe to make your own sunblock with turmeric.
2 Tablespoon of Organic Turmeric
1 Teaspoon of Organic oil (Olive oil, grape oil or jojoba oil)
1 clean metal bowl
Wipe the bowl clean. Add turmeric and organic oil. Mix well until smooth. It should have the consistency of a paste. Moisten the area prior to application. Apply on your face or hands before exposure. You can wash your face after it dries.
Have you used turmeric before? Tell us about it.
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