The turmeric root

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Having been viewed for decades as a workaday addition to the curry-maker’s pot, turmeric is enjoying its moment in the sun as the spice du jour. The gloriously colored root, with its earthy taste and ability to turn your T-shirt into a Buddhist monk’s robe, is no longer being seen merely as a flavorful addition to Eastern food, either sliced from a root or sprinkled as a dried powder, but as a nutritious addition to tinctures, smoothies, teas and lattes. It’s even being used in face packs and scrubs, to soften and soothe skin. So what are its much-lauded benefits? Primarily that it helps with inflammation. “It has curcumin in it, which is a Cox-2 inhibitor that is a proven anti-inflammatory,” says Jeanette Hyde, a nutritionist and author of the popular health bible The Gut Makeover. “People who do a lot of sport swear by it.” There’s also tantalizing talk that regular use of turmeric could help with a range of conditions, from age-related memory loss and arthritis to a variety of skin conditions, including eczema. When the actress and model Priyanka Chopra was asked the secret of her glowing skin at this year’s Oscars, she cited a body rub made with turmeric, sandalwood, Greek yogurt and chickpea flour. Hyde, who uses it to make smoothies, gives a note of warning, though. “It’s very staining,” she says. Not something to drink when you’re wearing your white Balenciaga, then.