The health benefits of turmeric have made it one of the most popular ingredients on the spice shelf. You could even call it the golden child of the spice world! But while it’s acclaimed for its healing properties, is an ingredient most of us really don’t know much about.
Some popular turmeric powder uses
Turmeric comes from the Indian sub-continent and Southeast Asia. It is a member of the ginger family. Turmeric has been used as both food and medicine throughout history. It is credited with relieving inflammation and the pain of arthritis as well as improving brain function. Of course, it was also historically used as an aphrodisiac. And if you have experience using it in cooking, you will probably not be surprised to learn that it’s also been used as a fabric dye.
Does turmeric help sexually?
Because turmeric originated in India and Southeast Asia, its aphrodisiac history is rooted in cultures from these regions. The Malay historically used turmeric not only as a sexual stimulant but also in a restorative tonic served to women after childbirth. Its abilities as an aphrodisiac even made it into the Kama Sutra. It is mentioned as one of the key ingredients in distilled liquor.
It is also used in “symbolic packets” used for communication in games of love. According to The Encyclopedia of Aphrodisiacs: Psychoactive Substances for Use in Sexual Practices, turmeric was used in an Indonesian love tonic, mixed with fennel and galangal. The book also recommends 1 gram per cup of water as an infusion to accompany tantric sex.
How the healing properties of turmeric work
Historical data makes it pretty clear that the ancient cultures of Southeast Asia felt turmeric and sex went hand in hand. And now, thanks to modern science, we can understand why.
Turmeric benefits for men
Some of the most interesting research on turmeric is the spice’s potential impact on men’s sexual health. A report published in 2016 in The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology offers some of the most compelling research to date on the benefits of turmeric as a sexual aid.
According to the study, which used male rats as test subjects, a compound called curcumin in turmeric can cause significant increase in testosterone serum totals. A subsequent study involving humans revealed that even a small dose of curcumin causes a significant increase in good cholesterol. Which means it can greatly impact heart health. And if it improves heart health, then it also has the potential to improve sexual health.
Curcumin and testosterone
In addition, recent studies have shown fairly conclusively that curcumin can increase testosterone. Which means that turmeric has the potential to be a potent natural aphrodisiac for men. The question remains how much curcumin is enough. And what impact does it have on women’s sexual health? These are among the many mysteries of turmeric’s health benefits still waiting to be answered.
Can turmeric treat erectile dysfunction?
And, according to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2018, a topical ointment made from the curcumin in turmeric can help treat erectile dysfunction. With regular application, the ointment, which reduced inflammation, increased blood flow to the groin and improved vasodilation.
Unfortunately, the study was done with rats and to my knowledge there’s been no conclusive follow up studies on human subjects. But for men suffering from erectile problems, it could be worth discussing the potential of turmeric helping sexually with their doctor.
How to use turmeric for health
Now, if you’re planning to boost your sexual health–or reap any of the health benefits of turmeric–there’s something about curcumin you should know. Many of the recipes recommending turmeric as the flavoring of a “healing tonic” or curative soup, tea or porridge are using it all wrong. That’s not to say that you can’t use turmeric in any dish for flavoring and color. But if you’re trying to use turmeric for its health benefits, you should use it in combination with black pepper.
Combining turmeric and black pepper or fat
Why? The curcumin in turmeric is poorly absorbed into the blood stream. But when it’s combined with a compound in black pepper called piperine, the absorbency increases by about 2,000%!
Another way to increase absorption of curcumin is by combining turmeric with fat. Some studies have suggested that, because turmeric is fat-soluable, it will be better absorbed with fat.
Should you use fresh or powdered turmeric?
The aphrodisiac benefits of turmeric appear to be equally powerful when using fresh or the powdered spice. But combining it with the right compound to release its power appears to be the key to its success.
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