Turmeric. Also known as “Indian saffron”, the “golden goddess of Ayurveda”, and for those growing up in an Indian family like me, “haldi”, a name derived from Sanskrit. Amazingly, Sanskrit has over 50 different words for turmeric and it has been used as a medicinal plant for over 4000 years. Turmeric is also well know for its many uses as a culinary spice, textile dye, and spiritual symbol in Hindu ceremonies. And can I just say, the world is far richer for having turmeric in it.
Turmeric is an emerging “superfood”
Turmeric is part of the ginger family, so its raw form looks a lot like a fresh ginger. Some believe that it is the most powerful herb on the planet for fighting and potentially reversing disease. According to the World Alzheimer's Report (2009), there is less incidence of dementia in countries where turmeric is a core component of the human diet, and the World Health Organization cites lower cancer rates in these countries also. Researchers have studied the relationships between turmeric and these lowered incidences of chronic illness, and believe that turmeric could be having this effect - more specifically, a key antioxidant found in turmeric called curcumin.
Image credit: Authority Nutrition
According to Ayurveda (the science of long life), turmeric has the following benefits:
supports a healthy immune response
benefits the skin ailments and complexion
supports liver detoxification
supports healthy cholesterol levels
And, turmeric has been used as a herbal medicine to relieve:
Image credit: Amuserr
In fact, over 3000 publications in modern medical literature have examined turmeric’s health benefits, and it continues to surprise scientists with its diverse applications.
Best of all, the amount of turmeric you need to receive health benefits is not much at all.
While researchers typically examine health impacts of about 1-2 grams per person, studies also show potential health benefits at much smaller amounts – as little as 50 milligrams, or 1/50th of a teaspoon!
Turmeric as a natural plant dye
In addition to its many health benefits, turmeric makes an excellent natural textile dye and retains its bright yellow colour on fabric with or without a mordant (note: a mordant is a colour-fastener and is usually made from potent chemicals; however at Cotton Seeds Australia, we only use naturally-occuring mordants when necessary).
Turmeric dye can be created by boiling natural turmeric root or by using the plain ol' ground tumeric you can find in your local supermarket. And boy does it pack a punch when used as a natural dye. Look at the colour imparted on a piece of white cloth after soaking for just 15 mins in a litre of boiled water infused with 2 Tbsp of ground turmeric:
Image credit: Obovate Designs, obovate.wordpress.com
The colours created from turmeric range from bright yellow (in its most natural form, without a mordant) to dark green when used with an iron-based modifier. Cold water works best for washing fabric coloured with turmeric dyes.
Turmeric is ideal as a beneficial colouring agent for our organic cotton range, as seen here in our set of 3 organic terry face towels, where the yellow colour is derived from turmeric - cool, huh??
At Cotton Seeds Australia, our 100% organic cotton muslin wraps, cot sheets and face towels are all infused with turmeric.
If your babies are anything like mine were, they will chew and suck on whatever they can get their little mouths on. So, we’ve made swaddles and bedding products that are totally safe for baby to suck and gnaw on, while simultaneously imparting a little bit of traditional medicine along the way! In contrast, mainstream chemical dyes are bad news. As we explain in our FAQ section, it can take between 2000-8000 different chemicals to produce the synthetic dyes used in everyday clothing and bedding.
While the colouring on those textiles may stay vibrant for longer with the use of these chemical dyes, the health risks of the dyes most certainly outweigh the aesthetic benefits.
A little bit of natural fading is normal, and adds to the character of every beautifully made piece.
And more importantly, you know your little ones are not ingesting potentially toxic residues or exposing their delicate skin to any allergens.
When premium quality fabrics dyed with natural herbal dyes, such as ours, are washed as per instructions, they will maintain their gorgeous plant-based hues long after baby grows out of needing them. Turmeric, especially, is one herbal dye that is consistently colourfast and retains it's beautiful colour.
Image credite: Mother Nature Network
Turmeric and Children
Traditionally, turmeric has been presented to children mixed with milk or honey, or made into a paste for topical application. Turmeric is safe for baby skin in low doses, and has been used in homemade Indian remedies for generations. I can certainly remember my Indian aunties massaging babies with turmeric and chickpea past to remove excess baby hair (Indians and our obsession with being hair-free!), as well as using turmeric to treat various other skin issues.
Turmeric has the unique potential of imparting health benefits and I think you will agree that makes a pretty amazing fabric dye. We are excited for you to experience the benefits of turmeric through our beautiful, herbal-dyed organic cotton bedding and towelling ranges, and join the turmeric revolution!
Much love to you and your little ones,
P.S. For all you fellow nerds out there, there are some excellent scientific reviews available on the human health benefits of turmeric. The one I would recommend, for a general introductory overview, is the chapter by Prasad & Aggarwal (2011) titled “Turmeric, the Golden Spice” in Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects (2nd ed.)
Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/
Top image credit: Banyan Botanicals, banyanbotanicals.com