Food, herbs and spices are increasingly analysed for hidden medicinal and nutritional benefits. This is an important development as such “medication” can be used cheaply, as part of a daily diet, without the inconvenience and expense of a doctor’s appointment.

One such spice is the well-known turmeric or arad, a colourant to make yellow rice. It’s somewhat strong, bitter taste blends wonderfully with curries, but it’s not palatable in raw form, particularly if you need larger amounts for pain relief. There’s an easy alternate – simply buy empty capsules, fill them with turmeric powder and “make” your own supplements. It can be used very effectively for short-term relief from severe chronic or acute painful inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, without nasty side effects.

Turmeric is an ideal alternative to cortisone and other drug based anti-inflammatories, which can cause stomach ulcers and general digestive damage. Best of all, not only won’t it cause ulcers while alleviating arthritic joints, it benefits the digestive system.

It can help with the cold condition of heartburn, reduce gas and bloating, improve digestion of fatty foods, and even improve intestinal flora.

Your liver function is improved by curcuminoids, the active healing compounds of turmeric. We live in a highly polluted environment and turmeric can increase liver activity while promoting the secretion of bile to emulsify fats, improving fat digestion.

Another miraculous quality of turmeric is its potential cancer-fighting quality. In India, where turmeric is used freely, prostate cancer is rare, according to an article ion Biochemical Pharmacology. The spice has been found to actively fight the development of most type of cancer. Increased consumption of turmeric should be part of a serious cancer-prevention strategy.