Essential Oil Spotlight: Turmeric

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) essential oil is steam distilled from the bright yellow-orange rhizome. (Rhizomes are horizontal, underground stems that sprout both vertical roots and stems to propagate perennial plants.) Turmeric is a pungent herb commonly used to season savory dishes in its native India. The essential oil likewise has a warm, earthy, and spicy aroma. Turmeric properties: analgesic, anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antimutagenic, antioxidant, antitumor, and insecticidal.

Common Primary Uses: Turmeric can be taken internally, topically, or aromatically— as an antioxidant, to help with indigestion, and for neurological health and protection (the latter since it contains chemical sesquiterpenes that can cross the blood-brain barrier). Turmeric is antibacterial when inhaled or applied to the skin, and topical use also helps heal skin conditions.

Other Possible Uses: Turmeric may be beneficial for arthritis, blood clots, cancer, depression, digestive issues (including gastritis and nausea), epilepsy, and joint pain and health.

Application of Turmeric Essential Oil and Safety Data

Topical: Turmeric can be applied neat (with no dilution) when used topically. Apply directly to area of concern or to reflex points.

Aromatic: Diffuse, or inhale the aroma directly. The warm, earthy aroma of turmeric is grounding and relaxing to the mind and emotions.

Internal: Turmeric oil is generally regarded as safe (GRAS) for human consumption by the FDA. Dilute 1 drop oil in 1 tsp. (5 ml) honey or in ½ cup (125 ml) of beverage (e.g.soy/rice milk). Not for children under 6 years old; use with caution and in greater dilution for older children. (Because of its strong taste, turmeric may be preferred taken in a capsule.)

Safety: May irritate highly sensitive skin. Dilute as needed with carrier oil. Consult with a physician before use if taking medications (especially for diabetes) and during pregnancy and lactation.

Ways to Use Turmeric Essential Oil

Diffuser Blends: Because of its earthy aroma and slightly woody undertone, turmeric is complemented by the lighter citrus oils (tangerine, in particular) and the sweeter spice oils (cassia, cinnamon, clove, and ginger, and pink pepper). Try the following original blends that combine calming and grounding with uplifting and focusing properties.

(Recipes from “Dreamy Diffuser Blends” postcard.)

Skin Care for All Types: Because of its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties, turmeric oil can help with teenage acne, on the one hand, and aging skin, on the other.

Acne: Apply a dab of turmeric essential oil neat (undiluted) to a blemish to help heal and reduce scarring. For a moisturizer that won’t clog pores while it fights blemishes, combine 4 drops turmeric with 1 oz. (30 ml, or 2 Tbsp.) of jojoba carrier oil (technically a wax that mimics the skin’s own secreted sebum).

Aging: Turmeric’s cell- and tissue-regenerative ketones also make it ideal for mature skin care. For a nighttime treatment, combine 4 drops turmeric essential oil with 1 oz. (30 ml, or 2 Tbsp.) of organic sunflower oil . (Sunflower carrier oil is rich in vitamins A, D, E, and in linoleic and oleic acids—omega-6 and omega-9 essential fatty acids—making it ideal for dry, wrinkled, or sun-damaged skin.)

Muscle and Joint Relief: Use the same ratio as for skin care—4 drops turmeric essential oil to 1 oz. (30 ml, or 2 Tbsp.) carrier oil, such as fractionated or raw coconut oil. Rub onto sore muscles and inflamed or arthritic joints twice a day. (Turmeric can also be taken 1–2 times daily internally to help any sort of internal inflammation, as noted below.)

Digestion and Inflammation: As a common savory seasoning, turmeric helps promote digestion and relief digestive difficulties, including inflammation in the digestive tract. Take 1–2 drops turmeric essential oil in a capsule, along with an edible carrier oil such as fractionated or raw coconut. (A regular vegetarian, cellulose capsule will dissolve in the stomach, while a delayed-release capsule will dissolve in the intestines—for help in targeting internal issues.)

Source: Modern Essentials, 10th edition.

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